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Andre Ward versus Paul Smith now official

23
Apr
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Andre Ward’s last fight was a unanimous decision over Edwin Rodriguez (pictured) in defense of his RING and WBA super middleweight titles in November 2013. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

It was confirmed today that WBA super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward will make his long-awaited return to the ring against Paul Smith on June 20 in Oakland, Calif.

Smith (35-5, 20 knockouts) is coming off two unanimous decision losses to WBO beltholder Arthur Abraham but, on both occasions, he acquitted himself very well. This reporter actually had the popular British contender a narrow points winner in fight one, although Abraham won the return with room to spare.

“I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward,” said Smith, via a press release issued by Matchroom Sport. “I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing.

Smith hails from Liverpool, England

Smith hails from Liverpool, England

“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’ve got. I am fresh and confident going into this fight. It’s a massive opportunity for me and one that I took with both hands when it was offered.”



Ward’s last outing was a decision win over Edwin Rodriguez in Nov. 2013, which followed a brutal 10th round stoppage of former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson. The talented American’s inactivity led to THE RING removing him from the super middleweight rankings but he remains one of the most decorated practitioners in world boxing.

“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,” said Ward (27-0, 14 KOs). “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. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.”

 

Ward vs. Smith, presented by Roc Nation Sports, takes place Saturday June 20 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., will be televised live on BET and streamed globally on TIDAL.com at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT and is presented in association with Matchroom Sport.

Tickets priced at $250, $125, $90, $60 and $30, not including applicable service charges and taxes, go on sale Friday, April 24 at 10:00 AM PT and will be available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at Ticketmaster.com and charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

 

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.

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