Sulaiman stated that Ward had been relinquished of his WBC super-middleweight belt and made ‘Emeritus champion’ after undergoing shoulder surgery and that Bika and Sjekloca would face-off on February 16 for the now vacant 168lb green belt.
Goossen is now disputing that statement by the WBC President and believes that his fighter will recover sufficiently to keep his title and therefore defend it against the number one contender upon his return. The promoter’s words come on the back of Lucian Bute’s promoter’s InterBox stating that Bute will fight for the title against either Bika or Sjekloca.
“I do not know why Jean Bédard and InterBox ensure that Bute will fight for the title, but what I can say is Andre (Ward) intends to defend his title,” Goossen said, according to TVA Sports.
“I tell you that Andre will defend his title against the winner of the ‘eliminator’ between Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekloca.”
Dismissive of Bute’s chances of fighting for the title on the back of his crushing loss to Carl Froch and subsequent victory over Denis Grachev at light-heavyweight, Goossen went on: “I’ll tell you what I told Jean Bédard: Lucian Bute has to recapture what he lost against Carl Froch and then we can discuss a fight against Andre Ward .”
Bedard himself was then contacted by TVA Sports and replied: “So much the better if he (Andre Ward) can return to defend his title in May (against Bika or Sjekloca).otherwise, we are ready to take his place.”
Bute, 32, is being lined up to challenge for the WBC belt in chief support to rival Carl Froch’s rematch against Mikkel Kessler, which is pencilled in for the late spring – with the Candadian then expected to exercise his right to a rematch with ‘The Cobra’ later in the year on home soil.