3 More Rounds

Ward to face Smith for June 20 return

Photo boy Laura de la Torre

Photo boy Laura de la Torre

Andre Ward, who will finally get back into the ring on June 20 in Oakland, will face England’s Paul Smith in a non-title fight at Oracle Arena.

The fight, will air on BET as part of a time-buy, according to Roc Nation Sports, which now promotes Ward.

“We’re thrilled to not only be introducing our newest broadcast partnership with BET Networks, but also to use this new platform to telecast Andre Ward’s highly anticipated return to the ring,” said David Itskowitch, COO of Roc Nation Sports’ boxing division. “On June 20, we will once again provide fans a night of exciting ‘throne boxing’ fights, live musical entertainment and an unprecedented fan experience.”

The fight card will air at 10 p.m. ET, with a live stream also taking place on Tidal.com, which is Jay Z’s new music streaming service website.

Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) has been sidelined since a November 2013 title defense against Edwin Rodriguez due to promotional issues with Goossen Promotions.  However, earlier this year, a deal was reached between Goossen and Ward’s team, after which Ward signed with Roc Nation Sports.

“I’m very excited to be coming back on June 20 at Oracle Arena in my hometown of Oakland, which has been a long time coming,” Ward said. “I’m equally excited to be fighting on BET in front of a potential viewership of over 90 million homes. As a fighter, this diversifies my portfolio and puts me in front of a whole different audience. I have an extremely tough fighter in front of me in Paul Smith, who’s looking to pull the upset, but I can’t let that happen.

“I have to be on my best game to turn Smith away and beat him the way I want to beat him. As always, I’m ready to put on a tremendous performance in front of my hometown fans and those watching on BET. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.”

Though Roc Nation Sports tried to get Ward’s fight on HBO, where he has fought recently, the network did not approve of the opponent, according to ESPN and elected not to purchase the fight.

Smith  (35-5, 20 KOs) has previously fought twice for a world title but lost decisions to Arthur Abraham in both occasions.

“I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward,” Smith said. “I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Arthur Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing. Andre is a top pound-for-pound fighter and someone I respect a lot, but he has only boxed once in almost three years and I will give it everything I have got.”

Tickets priced at $250, $125, $90, $60 and $30, go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

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