Roc Nation Sports has confirmed Andre Ward will make his official light-heavyweight debut on March 26 against Sullivan Barrera in 12-round bout at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
The fight has featured several missteps, starting with Ward withdrawing from a date on the undercard of Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez due to a left knee injury last November. Later, the fight was stalled over money as Barrera held out for a larger purse. For the last month, Barrera has taunted Ward over Twitter, causing the former super-middleweight kingpin to have extra motivation for this matchup.
“I don’t really have much to say other than this. On March 26, it will be very simple. I’ll be in a new weight class against a tough opponent but I’m coming with the same approach,” said Ward. “I’ll be in great shape and ready for battle. Sullivan Barrera has had a lot to say lately and I love it. He’s going to have an opportunity to back up every word that he has spoken. These are the type of challenges I like and on March 26, it’s go time.”
The 33 year old Barrera was in line to become the mandatory challenger for WBA/WBO/IBF champion Sergey Kovalev, who has a tentative agreement to face Ward by year’s end on HBO pay-per-view. Either foe is a formidable task for the undefeated Cuban, who’s most notable victories are against Karo Murat (KO5) and Jeff Lacy (TKO4). In the end, Barrera decided Ward was the more lucrative and sure-fire option.
“We as a team had a tough choice to make – crash the party by taking out Ward first or wait for the mandatory and take out Kovalev,” Barrera explained. “We decided that the time is now. Ward will fall first and then we will go after the belts.”
The bout airs live on HBO with tickets on sale today via ticketmaster.com