Andre Ward Fighting Paul Smith June 20 on BET

BET NETWORKS ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE BROADCAST PARTNERSHIP

TO TELECAST ROC NATION SPORTS throne boxing EVENTS LIVE

WITH PREMIERE MAIN EVENT TO FEATURE

WBA SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION ANDRE WARD

———————————-

WARD TO FACE PAUL SMITH ON JUNE 20, 2015

AT ORACLE ARENA IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA LIVE ON BET

NEW YORK — April 23, 2015— BET Networks is pleased to announce that it is stepping into the ring with Roc Nation Sports as their exclusive broadcast partner to air live throne boxing events on the network.

The partnership between BET Networks and Roc Nation Sports is the first of its kind for the network and includes airing up to nine live, two-hour telecasts of Roc Nation Sports throne boxing events over the next 18 months.

The first main event fight to air on BET Networks will feature WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KO’s) facing former World Title Challenger Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KO’s) of England on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. In addition to the great action inside the ring, the telecast will feature several notable Roc Nation touches that offer an unprecedented fan experience, including a live musical performance and a name DJ to keep the energy at a high level throughout the night.

Fans can catch the action live on BET in the United States and globally on TIDAL.com, the newly launched music streaming service that combines the best high fidelity sound quality, high definition music videos and expertly curated editorial.

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.

“BET is constantly searching for ways to expand its portfolio of content with the sole goal of satisfying our audiences,” said Stephen G. Hill, President of Programming, BET Networks. “Roc Nation is doing very exciting things in the entertainment space and we are excited to partner with them on this groundbreaking deal positioning BET Networks as a go-to destination for premier live boxing events. Together, we’ll provide unique entertainment.”

“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 – Boxing of Roc Nation Sports. “On June 20, we will once again provide fans a night of exciting throne boxing fights, live musical entertainment and an unprecedented fan experience.”

“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,” said Ward. “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.”

“I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward. I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Arthur Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing,” said Smith. “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. 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. I have spent a lot of time boxing in the United States and I look forward to returning for this fight.”

Known for his strong character and integrity outside the ring and his killer instinct inside it, Andre Ward’s skill and talent were apparent early in his outstanding amateur career.

He racked up every title in the books, culminating with a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. As the only male American boxer to claim Olympic gold since 1996, Ward joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya.

He turned professional on December 18, 2004, scoring a second round technical knockout victory over Chris Molina at Staples Center in a fight that was televised live on HBO. He has gone on to rack up 26 more victories since then, building an ever-growing legion of fans in the process.

After becoming the Ring Magazine and WBA Super Middleweight World Champion, rising to the number two spot on the pound-for-pound list and winning the 2011 Fighter of the Year Award (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America), it was announced that Ward signed an exclusive promotional agreement with Roc Nation Sports in January 2015, opening a new chapter in his storied boxing career. Now the Bay Area product is ready to return to the ring on June 20 at the Oracle Arena in front of his hometown fans in Oakland, California.

Paul “Real Gone Kid” Smith enters his fight against pound-for-pound star Ward coming off of two heroic performances against WBO Super Middleweight World Champion Arthur Abraham.

Smith challenged the Armenian-German for his title in Kiel, Germany in September 2014 and put on the performance of his career in his world title first shot. The 32-year-old native of Liverpool was the clear winner of large parts of the fight and celebrated at the bell in front of a hushed partisan crowd that thought that Abraham had been dethroned.

Smith was not expecting the wide scorecards that were read out in favor of the hometown fighter and, judging by the far-reaching outrage at the lopsided numbers, neither were the majority of the boxing world and beyond, with Smith receiving support from some of Britain’s biggest sports stars on social media.

A rematch was the only possible scenario and, like a true champion, Abraham duly obliged.

Smith returned to Germany in February of this year to face Abraham again, this time in Berlin, but Abraham was a different fighter the night of their second fight, successfully defending his belt against a brave challenge from Smith.

Once again the judges’ were forced to give a verdict and this time a decision win by Abraham was met with no outcry of controversy. On June 20, “Real Gone Kid” will return to the ring and once again venture into hostile territory to take on one of boxing’s best, looking to silence the crowd.

Ward vs. Smith, presented by Roc Nation Sports, takes place Saturday, June 20 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, 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.

ABOUT BET NETWORKS:

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa.

BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks – BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.??

ABOUT ROC NATION SPORTS:

Roc Nation Sports, a sub-division of Roc Nation, launched in spring 2013. Founder Shawn “JAY Z” Carter’s love of sports lead to the natural formation of Roc Nations Sports, helping athletes in the same way Roc Nation has been helping artists in the music industry for years.

Roc Nation Sports focuses on elevating athletes’ career on a global scale both on and off the field. Roc Nation Sports conceptualizes and executes marketing and endorsement deals, community outreach, charitable tie-ins, media relations and brand strategy.

Roc Nation Sports launched its boxing division, a full service promotional company which represents world champions Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward, in August 2014.

Roc Nation Sports’ roster includes premiere athletes such as Robinson Cano, Skylar Diggins, Kevin Durant, Geno Smith, Victor Cruz, CC Sabathia, James Young, Dez Bryant, Ndamukong Suh, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Jaelen Strong, Todd Gurley, Wilson Chandler, Erick Aybar and Frances Tiafoe. For more information please visit www.rocnation.com. Follow Roc Nation on Twitter and Instagram @rocnation and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RocNation.

ABOUT ORACLE ARENA & O.co COLISEUM:

Oracle Arena and O.co Coliseum, managed by AEG Facilities, are the premiere sports and entertainment complexes in Northern California. Home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and MLB’s Oakland Athletics as well as host to concerts, family shows and special events. Additional information on Oracle Arena and O.co Coliseum, including a complete schedule of events can be found online at www.coliseum.com. Follow Oracle Arena on Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat @OracleArena and on Facebook www.faecbook.com/OracleArenaO.coColiseum.

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COMMENTS

-stormcentre :

Paul Smith? I don't know of this guy. Opinions anyone. Sure Ward needs a comeback fight that's relatively devoid of nasty surprises, but is this guy that? Or is he too soft, or not soft enough?


-oubobcat :

I have seen Smith fight before. He's a tough guy who is going to come forward and make the fight. However, he is very limited. He pushes his punches with not much power behind them and is there is to be hit. He has no head movement, leaves his hands down in spots and squares up. George Groves destroyed him in two rounds a few years ago. Smith did give Arthur Abraham a tough first fight last year but was beaten pretty decisively in the rematch in February. If I were a matchmaker for Ward and looking for an opponent for him off the layoff, Smith is perfect. He is tough and won't lay down. So Ward will get some work in. Smith will come forward and be easy to hit while not being a threat to hurt Ward himself. Ward should be able to shake off the ring rust and take Smith out in a few rounds or whenever he wants (if he wants more work, can easily carry this guy with little issue). As a fan, this is a total mismatch and should be no more than a glorified sparring session. I'll be watching the PBC card that is supposed to also be happening that night and DVR this one.


-stormcentre :

Good succinct and concise breakdown on Smith. Thanks OBC. Sounds like the perfect guy for Ward. I couldn't see Roc Nation doing anything less/more.


-The Commish :

I have seen Smith fight before. He's a tough guy who is going to come forward and make the fight. However, he is very limited. He pushes his punches with not much power behind them and is there is to be hit. He has no head movement, leaves his hands down in spots and squares up. George Groves destroyed him in two rounds a few years ago. Smith did give Arthur Abraham a tough first fight last year but was beaten pretty decisively in the rematch in February. If I were a matchmaker for Ward and looking for an opponent for him off the layoff, Smith is perfect. He is tough and won't lay down. So Ward will get some work in. Smith will come forward and be easy to hit while not being a threat to hurt Ward himself. Ward should be able to shake off the ring rust and take Smith out in a few rounds or whenever he wants (if he wants more work, can easily carry this guy with little issue). As a fan, this is a total mismatch and should be no more than a glorified sparring session. I'll be watching the PBC card that is supposed to also be happening that night and DVR this one.
Excellent assessment of Smith. He will try, he will get pounded and he will lose. Come on, Ward deserves a "gimme" fight after being off for a year-and-a-half. Hopefully, Ward will follow his return-to-boxing victory with a title defense against a live challenger, not someone who has lost two of his last three but granted a title shot by the WBA. Welcome back, Andre. -Randy G.


-amayseng :

Excellent assessment of Smith. He will try, he will get pounded and he will lose. Come on, Ward deserves a "gimme" fight after being off for a year-and-a-half. Hopefully, Ward will follow his return-to-boxing victory with a title defense against a live challenger, not someone who has lost two of his last three but granted a title shot by the WBA. Welcome back, Andre. -Randy G.
He sure does I am just glad he is back in the ring. After Smith he should head to England and take out Froch in an unreal atmosphere for good money. It would be another exciting clinic.


-Radam G :

Wow! My boy Jay-Z is killing it. Roc Nation is gonna be PHAT wif [sic] da dough. And SOG Is da MAN! Holla!


-Yogo :

Wow, Smith gets yet another lovely payday!? 3 in a row. He's a very nice guy and an excellent commentator/summarizer so i guess he deserves it. An average British champ at best. Watch out for his kid brother Callum. I'm thinking about SOG V KRUSHER down the line. Oh yes.


-Bernie Campbell :

Again Roc Nation and JZ lose the progressive focus? A Concert? A DJ? Gangsta Rap? How Passe! What kinds of seeds are you trying to sew with the under 25 crowd Chumps? BET? Whose paying the freight on the propaganda? Hows about some Irish Rebel music or ballads to commemorate both fighters primary ethnicities? Hows about some Christian Music Knuckleheads! Give JZ and Companions the Vaudeville Hook! We dont need em round here!


-stormcentre :

Again Roc Nation and JZ lose the progressive focus? A Concert? A DJ? Gangsta Rap? How Passe! What kinds of seeds are you trying to sew with the under 25 crowd Chumps? BET? Whose paying the freight on the propaganda? Hows about some Irish Rebel music or ballads to commemorate both fighters primary ethnicities? Hows about some Christian Music Knuckleheads! Give JZ and Companions the Vaudeville Hook! We dont need em round here!
Wow, good stuff. Bernie, often singularly maverick and unique, with his “I’ll walk my own path” views. Not sure if we can (meaningfully) change the gangsta image of the sport in certain areas; but get what you mean - why promote it. Love the line “Whose paying the freight on the propaganda” and (in the absence of your objection) use it myself; nice. Perhaps Jay Z can get the Hells Angels to do security; it worked for the Stones. Not. :)


-oubobcat :

Its going to be interesting to see how Ward is moved after this fight. HBO has made it clear that they are not going to accept tune up fights. But there also is not a lot out there at 168 for Ward if that is the division he remains. Will he be willing to jump from this fight right into say a big fight with Golokvin or Kovalev? I doubt it, he will probably want a step up fight and then may be willing (if the price is right) for either a Golovkin or Kovalev. Here is my guess...he cuts a deal with HBO similar to the one Cotto cut to fight Geale. Both Cotto and Ward are promoted by Roc Nation who helped Cotto cut that deal with HBO for the Geale fight with the assurance that Cotto faces Canelo next should they both win. I think the name to keep an eye on is Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez. He fought on HBO in January and is reportedly going to fight on True TV in June a week before Ward fights. The opponent mentioned for Sanchez is Derek Edwards who is a step down from the the guy Sanchez fought in January (Vlasov) and is an opponent that Sanchez can frankly shine against. Remember HBO is involved in this True TV deal with Top Rank. I think the plan is in place for Ward to fight Sanchez this fall contingent on Ward agreeing to fight Golovkin or Kovalev next spring. If this turns out to be the case, what a 10 month or so period we have in front of us in the sport of boxing.


-stormcentre :

Promotional issues aside the current 168 landscape for Ward may look like this. The below order is not indicative of preference.
1) Anthony Dirrell: (
Rationale; Anthony is currently a pretty durable, sturdy, and competent 168 belt holder that's currently heading into a fight with Badou Jack. Dirrell, whom likes to fight and box a little, has beaten and drawn with Sakio Bika previously, so this may or may not be a good thing for Ward at this moment. Ward and the Dirrell brothers seem to have a good friendly relationship, so not sure whether that assists or prevents a fight in the upcoming yearly quarter, 6 months or 2015).
2) George Groves: (
Rationale; obvious due to geography and Froch)
3) Carl Froch: (
Rationale: history, plus Carl recently said he would entertain a fight with Ward in the UK).
4) Sakio Bika: (
Rationale: history, and the rematch might be viable if Bika can make 168 or a catchweight .Plus, Sakio has - in some ways - slowed down a little, so he may be looking for and/or receptive to cash-out gatekeeper fights).
5) Andre Dirrell: (
Rationale: both technicians that would make an intriguing matchup, and Dirrell {or Ward for that matter} has not had - in his 2nd reincarnation as a top level fighter - a coming/break out fight; yet. However Andre and Andre have an {amicable} personal history; so not sure if that can be put to side and/or of both guys are prepared {at this stage of their careers} to risk a fight with the other; as each guy's style would be hard for the other to easily shine against - hence Roc may not like the idea. Normally {3 years ago, that is} Ward would probably have the edge here with this match-up. However, now, with Ward just stepping back into action, he {and Roc} probably don't need a guy Like Andre Dirrell that's about as polished skill-wise as any 168 fighter can get. Additionally, Dirrell, now, has also most likely matured a bit since the super 6 tourney days; where he was not quite a fully developed fighting man {no pun intended} and perhaps psychologically beat on a bit by Arthur Abraham.
6) Arthur Abraham: (
Rationale: Abraham is a relatively easy fight for Ward. Plus Arthur {if he is prepared to do it again, as the scores were pretty wide when he last was beaten by Ward} might be looking to cash out at this stage of his career. Probably not a likely fight unless Roc pay Arthur seriously big USA Benjamins for the risk, embarrassment and almost certain beat-down/loss he will get. There is also the geographical aspect of the promotion/fight, but I'm not sure many people are interested in Ward V Abraham even though it still is a possibility).
7) Robert Stieglitz: (
Rationale: Stieglitz has fought Strum previously {draw}, has a name for it, and appears to be someone of note in the 168 pound division that a pre GTP V[legal] Ward, Ward could easily handle. Stieglitz would {may?} see value in the stanza whilst Ward is not completely in form, and both Ward and Jay Z may also see Stieglitz as a "name" to collect whilst getting ready for the really big names/fights, and Roc's ROI. Stieglitz is originally from Russia {residing in Germany now} so he probably would be receptive to a decent offer - particularly one that may belay any possible concerns he may have about a loss. Done correctly, the offer could be seen as Stieglitz' chance for USA exposure. Stieglitz, is a step up {or two} from Paul Smith though).
8) Mikkel Kessler: (
Rationale: history and money. Kessler has recently claimed he is about to retire . . I think . . due to a lack of fights that interest him. The right offer may change his mind though {doesn't it almost always?}, and both guys may - at this stage of their careers - appear vulnerable to each other; making the fight seem appealing to both camps. That said, Kessler was pretty disappointed with the judging and Ward's head/holding when they last fought - so not sure whether he would take the bait again this time. Not unless the fight was at a venue of his approval).
9) James DeGale: (
Rationale: opportunity for James to show - above/beyond Froch {whom I think he has called out} - that he belongs at this level. Still, the fight - if it were to take place - would have to be after March 2015 as James' has his hands full with the above-mentioned Andre Dirrell. If DeGale gets past Dirrell {I'm not sure about that; even though I am not saying it won't happen} then Ward would rightly be on DeGale's UK radar, and vice/versa. The fight could make big commercial cents too for Jay Z, Ward, and all the geographical reasons. Looking at DeGales style though, whilst it is not bad, it's hard {at least for me} to imagine that {to Ward} James would not appear a little appear vulnerable; which could be a good thing for making the fight. Good step up fight for Ward, and not one that's completely devoid of risk; in my opinion).


-stormcentre :

Promotional issues aside the current 168 landscape for Ward may look like this. The below order is not indicative of preference.
1) Anthony Dirrell: (
Rationale; Anthony is currently a pretty durable, sturdy, and competent 168 belt holder that's currently heading into a fight with Badou Jack. Dirrell, whom likes to fight and box a little, has beaten and drawn with Sakio Bika previously, so this may or may not be a good thing for Ward at this moment. Ward and the Dirrell brothers seem to have a good friendly relationship, so not sure whether that assists or prevents a fight in the upcoming yearly quarter, 6 months or 2015).
2) George Groves: (
Rationale; obvious due to geography and Froch)
3) Carl Froch: (
Rationale: history, plus Carl recently said he would entertain a fight with Ward in the UK).
4) Sakio Bika: (
Rationale: history, and the rematch might be viable if Bika can make 168 or a catchweight .Plus, Sakio has - in some ways - slowed down a little, so he may be looking for and/or receptive to cash-out gatekeeper fights).
5) Andre Dirrell: (
Rationale: both technicians that would make an intriguing matchup, and Dirrell {or Ward for that matter} has not had - in his 2nd reincarnation as a top level fighter - a coming/break out fight; yet. However Andre and Andre have an {amicable} personal history; so not sure if that can be put to side and/or of both guys are prepared {at this stage of their careers} to risk a fight with the other; as each guy's style would be hard for the other to easily shine against - hence Roc may not like the idea. Normally {3 years ago, that is} Ward would probably have the edge here with this match-up. However, now, with Ward just stepping back into action, he {and Roc} probably don't need a guy Like Andre Dirrell that's about as polished skill-wise as any 168 fighter can get. Additionally, Dirrell, now, has also most likely matured a bit since the super 6 tourney days; where he was not quite a fully developed fighting man {no pun intended} and perhaps psychologically beat on a bit by Arthur Abraham.
6) Arthur Abraham: (
Rationale: Abraham is a relatively easy fight for Ward. Plus Arthur {if he is prepared to do it again, as the scores were pretty wide when he last was beaten by Ward} might be looking to cash out at this stage of his career. Probably not a likely fight unless Roc pay Arthur seriously big USA Benjamins for the risk, embarrassment and almost certain beat-down/loss he will get. There is also the geographical aspect of the promotion/fight, but I'm not sure many people are interested in Ward V Abraham even though it still is a possibility).
7) Robert Stieglitz: (
Rationale: Stieglitz has fought Strum previously {draw}, has a name for it, and appears to be someone of note in the 168 pound division that a pre GTP V[legal] Ward, Ward could easily handle. Stieglitz would {may?} see value in the stanza whilst Ward is not completely in form, and both Ward and Jay Z may also see Stieglitz as a "name" to collect whilst getting ready for the really big names/fights, and Roc's ROI. Stieglitz is originally from Russia {residing in Germany now} so he probably would be receptive to a decent offer - particularly one that may belay any possible concerns he may have about a loss. Done correctly, the offer could be seen as Stieglitz' chance for USA exposure. Stieglitz, is a step up {or two} from Paul Smith though).
8) Mikkel Kessler: (
Rationale: history and money. Kessler has recently claimed he is about to retire . . I think . . due to a lack of fights that interest him. The right offer may change his mind though {doesn't it almost always?}, and both guys may - at this stage of their careers - appear vulnerable to each other; making the fight seem appealing to both camps. That said, Kessler was pretty disappointed with the judging and Ward's head/holding when they last fought - so not sure whether he would take the bait again this time. Not unless the fight was at a venue of his approval).
9) James DeGale: (
Rationale: opportunity for James to show - above/beyond Froch {whom I think he has called out} - that he belongs at this level. Still, the fight - if it were to take place - would have to be after March 2015 as James' has his hands full with the above-mentioned Andre Dirrell. If DeGale gets past Dirrell {I'm not sure about that; even though I am not saying it won't happen} then Ward would rightly be on DeGale's UK radar, and vice/versa. The fight could make big commercial cents too for Jay Z, Ward, and all the geographical reasons. Looking at DeGales style though, whilst it is not bad, it's hard {at least for me} to imagine that {to Ward} James would not appear a little appear vulnerable; which could be a good thing for making the fight. Good step up fight for Ward, and not one that's completely devoid of risk; in my opinion). Some of the above fights I would not have previously pitched for Ward whilst he was a GTP investment. However, with; A) HBO firmly letting their network dollars talk loudly and freely on what Ward does and where he goes; HBO had a pretty solid relationship with the late Dan Goosen. B) Roc buying {and owning?} Ward's azz, being who he is, and presumably and perhaps rightly so, not being too shy to publicly pull strings, call shots and let Ward know whose the boss. Ward will probably be a whole more likely to do as expected. Yes? No? Let me have it.


-stormcentre :

Promotional issues aside the current 168 landscape for Ward may look like this. The below order is not indicative of preference.
1) Anthony Dirrell: (
Rationale; Anthony is currently a pretty durable, sturdy, and competent 168 belt holder that's currently heading into a fight with Badou Jack. Dirrell, whom likes to fight and box a little, has beaten and drawn with Sakio Bika previously, so this may or may not be a good thing for Ward at this moment. Ward and the Dirrell brothers seem to have a good friendly relationship, so not sure whether that assists or prevents a fight in the upcoming yearly quarter, 6 months or 2015).
2) George Groves: (
Rationale; obvious due to geography and Froch)
3) Carl Froch: (
Rationale: history, plus Carl recently said he would entertain a fight with Ward in the UK).
4) Sakio Bika: (
Rationale: history, and the rematch might be viable if Bika can make 168 or a catchweight .Plus, Sakio has - in some ways - slowed down a little, so he may be looking for and/or receptive to cash-out gatekeeper fights).
5) Andre Dirrell: (
Rationale: both technicians that would make an intriguing matchup, and Dirrell {or Ward for that matter} has not had - in his 2nd reincarnation as a top level fighter - a coming/break out fight; yet. However Andre and Andre have an {amicable} personal history; so not sure if that can be put to side and/or of both guys are prepared {at this stage of their careers} to risk a fight with the other; as each guy's style would be hard for the other to easily shine against - hence Roc may not like the idea. Normally {3 years ago, that is} Ward would probably have the edge here with this match-up. However, now, with Ward just stepping back into action, he {and Roc} probably don't need a guy Like Andre Dirrell that's about as polished skill-wise as any 168 fighter can get. Additionally, Dirrell, now, has also most likely matured a bit since the super 6 tourney days; where he was not quite a fully developed fighting man {no pun intended} and perhaps psychologically beat on a bit by Arthur Abraham.
6) Arthur Abraham: (
Rationale: Abraham is a relatively easy fight for Ward. Plus Arthur {if he is prepared to do it again, as the scores were pretty wide when he last was beaten by Ward} might be looking to cash out at this stage of his career. Probably not a likely fight unless Roc pay Arthur seriously big USA Benjamins for the risk, embarrassment and almost certain beat-down/loss he will get. There is also the geographical aspect of the promotion/fight, but I'm not sure many people are interested in Ward V Abraham even though it still is a possibility).
7) Robert Stieglitz: (
Rationale: Stieglitz has fought Strum previously {draw}, has a name for it, and appears to be someone of note in the 168 pound division that a pre GTP V[legal] Ward, Ward could easily handle. Stieglitz would {may?} see value in the stanza whilst Ward is not completely in form, and both Ward and Jay Z may also see Stieglitz as a "name" to collect whilst getting ready for the really big names/fights, and Roc's ROI. Stieglitz is originally from Russia {residing in Germany now} so he probably would be receptive to a decent offer - particularly one that may belay any possible concerns he may have about a loss. Done correctly, the offer could be seen as Stieglitz' chance for USA exposure. Stieglitz, is a step up {or two} from Paul Smith though).
8) Mikkel Kessler: (
Rationale: history and money. Kessler has recently claimed he is about to retire . . I think . . due to a lack of fights that interest him. The right offer may change his mind though {doesn't it almost always?}, and both guys may - at this stage of their careers - appear vulnerable to each other; making the fight seem appealing to both camps. That said, Kessler was pretty disappointed with the judging and Ward's head/holding when they last fought - so not sure whether he would take the bait again this time. Not unless the fight was at a venue of his approval).
9) James DeGale: (
Rationale: opportunity for James to show - above/beyond Froch {whom I think he has called out} - that he belongs at this level. Still, the fight - if it were to take place - would have to be after March 2015 as James' has his hands full with the above-mentioned Andre Dirrell. If DeGale gets past Dirrell {I'm not sure about that; even though I am not saying it won't happen} then Ward would rightly be on DeGale's UK radar, and vice/versa. The fight could make big commercial cents too for Jay Z, Ward, and all the geographical reasons. Looking at DeGales style though, whilst it is not bad, it's hard {at least for me} to imagine that {to Ward} James would not appear a little appear vulnerable; which could be a good thing for making the fight. Good step up fight for Ward, and not one that's completely devoid of risk; in my opinion).
10) Wildard: Hopkins. Some of the above fights I would not have previously suggested for Ward whilst he was a GTP investment. However, with; A) HBO firmly letting their network dollars talk loudly/freely on what Ward does and where he goes; HBO had a pretty solid relationship with the late Dan Goosen. B) Roc; buying (and owning?) Ward's azz, being who he is, and presumably and perhaps rightly so, not being too shy to publicly pull strings, call shots, and let Ward know whose the boss. Ward will probably be a whole lot more likely to do as expected and not necessarily as he would otherwise (when with GTP) want. Yes? No? Let me have it.


-stormcentre :

Promotional issues aside the current 168 landscape for Ward may look like this. The below order is not indicative of preference.
1) Anthony Dirrell: (
Rationale; Anthony is currently a pretty durable, sturdy, and competent 168 belt holder that's currently heading into a fight with Badou Jack. Dirrell, whom likes to fight and box a little, has beaten and drawn with Sakio Bika previously, so this may or may not be a good thing for Ward at this moment. Ward and the Dirrell brothers seem to have a good friendly relationship, so not sure whether that assists or prevents a fight in the upcoming yearly quarter, 6 months or 2015).
2) George Groves: (
Rationale; obvious due to geography and Froch).
3) Carl Froch: (
Rationale: history, plus Carl recently said he would entertain a fight with Ward in the UK).
4) Sakio Bika: (
Rationale: history, and the rematch might be viable if Bika can make 168 or a catchweight .Plus, Sakio has - in some ways - slowed down a little, so he may be looking for and/or receptive to cash-out gatekeeper fights).
5) Andre Dirrell: (
Rationale: both technicians that would make an intriguing matchup, and Dirrell {or Ward for that matter} has not had - in his 2nd reincarnation as a top level fighter - a coming/break out fight; yet. However Andre and Andre have an {amicable} personal history; so not sure if that can be put to side and/or of both guys are prepared {at this stage of their careers} to risk a fight with the other; as each guy's style would be hard for the other to easily shine against - hence Roc may not like the idea. Normally {3 years ago, that is} Ward would probably have the edge here with this match-up. However, now, with Ward just stepping back into action, he {and Roc} probably don't need a guy Like Andre Dirrell that's about as polished skill-wise as any 168 fighter can get. Additionally, Dirrell, now, has also most likely matured a bit since the super 6 tourney days; where he was not quite a fully developed fighting man {no pun intended} and perhaps psychologically beat on a bit by Arthur Abraham.
6) Arthur Abraham: (
Rationale: Abraham is a relatively easy fight for Ward. Plus Arthur {if he is prepared to do it again, as the scores were pretty wide when he last was beaten by Ward} might be looking to cash out at this stage of his career. Probably not a likely fight unless Roc pay Arthur seriously big USA Benjamins for the risk, embarrassment and almost certain beat-down/loss he will get. There is also the geographical aspect of the promotion/fight, but I'm not sure many people are interested in Ward V Abraham even though it still is a possibility).
7) Robert Stieglitz: (
Rationale: Stieglitz has fought Strum previously {draw}, has a name for it, and appears to be someone of note in the 168 pound division that a pre GTP V[legal] Ward, Ward could easily handle. Stieglitz would {may?} see value in the stanza whilst Ward is not completely in form, and both Ward and Jay Z may also see Stieglitz as a "name" to collect whilst getting ready for the really big names/fights, and Roc's ROI. Stieglitz is originally from Russia {residing in Germany now} so he probably would be receptive to a decent offer - particularly one that may belay any possible concerns he may have about a loss. Done correctly, the offer could be seen as Stieglitz' chance for USA exposure. Stieglitz, is a step up {or two} from Paul Smith though).
8) Mikkel Kessler: (
Rationale: history and money. Kessler has recently claimed he is about to retire . . I think . . due to a lack of fights that interest him. The right offer may change his mind though {doesn't it almost always?}, and both guys may - at this stage of their careers - appear vulnerable to each other; making the fight seem appealing to both camps. That said, Kessler was pretty disappointed with the judging and Ward's head/holding when they last fought - so not sure whether he would take the bait again this time. Not unless the fight was at a venue of his approval).
9) James DeGale: (
Rationale: opportunity for James to show - above/beyond Froch {whom I think he has called out} - that he belongs at this level. Still, the fight - if it were to take place - would have to be after March 2015 as James' has his hands full with the above-mentioned Andre Dirrell. If DeGale gets past Dirrell {I'm not sure about that; even though I am not saying it won't happen} then Ward would rightly be on DeGale's UK radar, and vice/versa. The fight could make big commercial cents too for Jay Z, Ward, and all the geographical reasons. Looking at DeGales style though, whilst it is not bad, it's hard {at least for me} to imagine that {to Ward} James would not appear a little appear vulnerable; which could be a good thing for making the fight. Good step up fight for Ward, and not one that's completely devoid of risk; in my opinion).
10) Wildard: Hopkins. Some of the above fights – particularly Bernard - I would not have previously suggested for Ward whilst he was a GTP investment. However, with; A) HBO firmly letting their network dollars talk loudly/freely on what Ward does and where he goes; HBO had a pretty solid relationship with the late Dan Goosen. B) Roc; buying (and owning?) Ward's azz, being who he is, and presumably and perhaps rightly so, not being too shy to publicly pull strings, call shots, and let Ward know whose the boss. Ward will probably be a whole lot more likely to do as expected and not necessarily as he would otherwise (when with GTP) want. Yes? No? Let me have it.


-Pazuzu :

Its going to be interesting to see how Ward is moved after this fight. HBO has made it clear that they are not going to accept tune up fights. But there also is not a lot out there at 168 for Ward if that is the division he remains. Will he be willing to jump from this fight right into say a big fight with Golokvin or Kovalev? I doubt it, he will probably want a step up fight and then may be willing (if the price is right) for either a Golovkin or Kovalev. Here is my guess...he cuts a deal with HBO similar to the one Cotto cut to fight Geale. Both Cotto and Ward are promoted by Roc Nation who helped Cotto cut that deal with HBO for the Geale fight with the assurance that Cotto faces Canelo next should they both win. I think the name to keep an eye on is Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez. He fought on HBO in January and is reportedly going to fight on True TV in June a week before Ward fights. The opponent mentioned for Sanchez is Derek Edwards who is a step down from the the guy Sanchez fought in January (Vlasov) and is an opponent that Sanchez can frankly shine against. Remember HBO is involved in this True TV deal with Top Rank. I think the plan is in place for Ward to fight Sanchez this fall contingent on Ward agreeing to fight Golovkin or Kovalev next spring. If this turns out to be the case, what a 10 month or so period we have in front of us in the sport of boxing.
All sounds eminently reasonable and plausible. (Perhaps too much so for boxing!) I think you are right on the money, Bobcat.


-oubobcat :

Promotional issues aside the current 168 landscape for Ward may look like this. The below order is not indicative of preference.
1) Anthony Dirrell: (
Rationale; Anthony is currently a pretty durable, sturdy, and competent 168 belt holder that's currently heading into a fight with Badou Jack. Dirrell, whom likes to fight and box a little, has beaten and drawn with Sakio Bika previously, so this may or may not be a good thing for Ward at this moment. Ward and the Dirrell brothers seem to have a good friendly relationship, so not sure whether that assists or prevents a fight in the upcoming yearly quarter, 6 months or 2015).
2) George Groves: (
Rationale; obvious due to geography and Froch).
3) Carl Froch: (
Rationale: history, plus Carl recently said he would entertain a fight with Ward in the UK).
4) Sakio Bika: (
Rationale: history, and the rematch might be viable if Bika can make 168 or a catchweight .Plus, Sakio has - in some ways - slowed down a little, so he may be looking for and/or receptive to cash-out gatekeeper fights).
5) Andre Dirrell: (
Rationale: both technicians that would make an intriguing matchup, and Dirrell {or Ward for that matter} has not had - in his 2nd reincarnation as a top level fighter - a coming/break out fight; yet. However Andre and Andre have an {amicable} personal history; so not sure if that can be put to side and/or of both guys are prepared {at this stage of their careers} to risk a fight with the other; as each guy's style would be hard for the other to easily shine against - hence Roc may not like the idea. Normally {3 years ago, that is} Ward would probably have the edge here with this match-up. However, now, with Ward just stepping back into action, he {and Roc} probably don't need a guy Like Andre Dirrell that's about as polished skill-wise as any 168 fighter can get. Additionally, Dirrell, now, has also most likely matured a bit since the super 6 tourney days; where he was not quite a fully developed fighting man {no pun intended} and perhaps psychologically beat on a bit by Arthur Abraham.
6) Arthur Abraham: (
Rationale: Abraham is a relatively easy fight for Ward. Plus Arthur {if he is prepared to do it again, as the scores were pretty wide when he last was beaten by Ward} might be looking to cash out at this stage of his career. Probably not a likely fight unless Roc pay Arthur seriously big USA Benjamins for the risk, embarrassment and almost certain beat-down/loss he will get. There is also the geographical aspect of the promotion/fight, but I'm not sure many people are interested in Ward V Abraham even though it still is a possibility).
7) Robert Stieglitz: (
Rationale: Stieglitz has fought Strum previously {draw}, has a name for it, and appears to be someone of note in the 168 pound division that a pre GTP V[legal] Ward, Ward could easily handle. Stieglitz would {may?} see value in the stanza whilst Ward is not completely in form, and both Ward and Jay Z may also see Stieglitz as a "name" to collect whilst getting ready for the really big names/fights, and Roc's ROI. Stieglitz is originally from Russia {residing in Germany now} so he probably would be receptive to a decent offer - particularly one that may belay any possible concerns he may have about a loss. Done correctly, the offer could be seen as Stieglitz' chance for USA exposure. Stieglitz, is a step up {or two} from Paul Smith though).
8) Mikkel Kessler: (
Rationale: history and money. Kessler has recently claimed he is about to retire . . I think . . due to a lack of fights that interest him. The right offer may change his mind though {doesn't it almost always?}, and both guys may - at this stage of their careers - appear vulnerable to each other; making the fight seem appealing to both camps. That said, Kessler was pretty disappointed with the judging and Ward's head/holding when they last fought - so not sure whether he would take the bait again this time. Not unless the fight was at a venue of his approval).
9) James DeGale: (
Rationale: opportunity for James to show - above/beyond Froch {whom I think he has called out} - that he belongs at this level. Still, the fight - if it were to take place - would have to be after March 2015 as James' has his hands full with the above-mentioned Andre Dirrell. If DeGale gets past Dirrell {I'm not sure about that; even though I am not saying it won't happen} then Ward would rightly be on DeGale's UK radar, and vice/versa. The fight could make big commercial cents too for Jay Z, Ward, and all the geographical reasons. Looking at DeGales style though, whilst it is not bad, it's hard {at least for me} to imagine that {to Ward} James would not appear a little appear vulnerable; which could be a good thing for making the fight. Good step up fight for Ward, and not one that's completely devoid of risk; in my opinion).
10) Wildard: Hopkins. Some of the above fights – particularly Bernard - I would not have previously suggested for Ward whilst he was a GTP investment. However, with; A) HBO firmly letting their network dollars talk loudly/freely on what Ward does and where he goes; HBO had a pretty solid relationship with the late Dan Goosen. B) Roc; buying (and owning?) Ward's azz, being who he is, and presumably and perhaps rightly so, not being too shy to publicly pull strings, call shots, and let Ward know whose the boss. Ward will probably be a whole lot more likely to do as expected and not necessarily as he would otherwise (when with GTP) want. Yes? No? Let me have it.
Some of these guys are unavailable to fight Ward due to their involvement with Haymon (the Dirrells and Bika). Ward has shown zero interest in a Froch rematch. Each time he mentions it he makes unrealistic demands. And Froch can make more money fighting DeGale (if he beats Dirrell), fighting basically any other name in the UK or fighting Hopkins in the US. Ward already dominated Abraham once and don't see HBO either in that again or in Steiglitz. Kessler is retired and hasn't fought in two years. I don't see him coming back at this point. I do agree Hopkins is a wildcard in all this. It would not shock me to see HBO sign off on him for a fall date with Ward and for Ward's people to want that fight. Regarding Hopkins, I think the fight he wants is with Froch. It would probably be for more money than Ward (Froch has a bigger following, lets be honest and his fans would travel to Vegas) and is a much more winnable fight for Hopkins. Hopkins has subtly mentioned Froch's name in a few interviews he has done post Kovalev. If Hopkins does fight again, and I think he does, I see Froch as the likely foe.


-stormcentre :

Some of these guys are unavailable to fight Ward due to their involvement with Haymon (the Dirrells and Bika). Ward has shown zero interest in a Froch rematch. Each time he mentions it he makes unrealistic demands. And Froch can make more money fighting DeGale (if he beats Dirrell), fighting basically any other name in the UK or fighting Hopkins in the US. Ward already dominated Abraham once and don't see HBO either in that again or in Steiglitz. Kessler is retired and hasn't fought in two years. I don't see him coming back at this point. I do agree Hopkins is a wildcard in all this. It would not shock me to see HBO sign off on him for a fall date with Ward and for Ward's people to want that fight. Regarding Hopkins, I think the fight he wants is with Froch. It would probably be for more money than Ward (Froch has a bigger following, lets be honest and his fans would travel to Vegas) and is a much more winnable fight for Hopkins. Hopkins has subtly mentioned Froch's name in a few interviews he has done post Kovalev. If Hopkins does fight again, and I think he does, I see Froch as the likely foe.
Even aside from when some fighters come out of contract; I think we're going to see some cross-promotional shows over the next 24 months. That's just what I have been told; so time will tell. Anyway, it was why I placed my caveat at the start of my post; "promotional issues aside". Still, I know where you're coming from and understand your point(s). Currently, I agree, there is probably too much promotional fatigue associated with the thought of most of the related and above-mentioned promoters doing cross promotion. There are also though, quite a lot of other tier 2 opponents for Ward to chose from that (I didn't mention) don't present the same 168 landscape-cross-promotional issues. And, whilst some (many?) of them don't quite have the name and public interest of the above list; many are a few notches above Paul Smith. Agree also, Ward doesn't seem too interested in Froch in the UK; not sure whether Roc would pass it up if Carl wanted to come over to the states again; for it. Froch was on a video somewhere recently I saw (just after getting into a car) where he said he would entertain the fight in GB. Not sure whether a Froch V DeGale fight would be worth more money than a (correctly promoted/timed) Ward V Froch. Still, stranger things have happened. Agree, Abraham is probably a no go; but it's also not an impossibility either. Don't necessarily share your view on Steiglitz; but that's cool. Same for Kessler. I think, if the money/location was right, he would bite. Hopkins is indeed the Wildcard. As is, now, Badou Jack. Not sure when Anthony's promotional contract expires; but that's an interesting consideration there too. Anyway, (according to my above rationale) that still leaves at least half, and/or just under, of the list. Good post/reply OBC.


-Skibbz :

Nice to see Ward back in the ring... Shame to see he's fighting the second best super middleweight in the Smith family! This fight will make him look very good and will have his fans saying ring rust who??? Fair play to his managers theyve lined him up a very smart fight.