The Oracle Arena in Oakland will be electric later tonight as hometown hero Andre Ward returns to the ring to face Sullivan Barrera. The fight will air on HBO live, so check local listings for start times.
Pic: Sullivan Barrera is more intense than ever heading into tonight's fight.
The fight sees Ward, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and Super Middleweight king-pin, moving up to Light Heavyweight and since he has fought just three times in the last four years the match also is a “return” for Ward of sorts. He remains undefeated at 28-0 and he is back with a new promoter (Roc Nation) and a fresh 3 fight deal with HBO, but Ward enters the fight looking to prove himself all over again.
His opponent Barrera is likewise undefeated at 17-0, and he has a long amateur background with his time on the Cuban National Team. Barrera enters the fight confident and with little to lose.
Many of the big sport books have avoided this fight and have not posted lines. Even after the weigh-ins occured on Friday, some of the books avoided putting up early lines until today.
The line today sees Ward open a strong favorite. The over/under for the twelve round bout is set at 10 1/2, with the match expected to go the distance.
Sullivan Barrera +600 o10½ -220
Andre Ward -900 u10½ +180
Barrera at +600 may be enticing, and after the weigh-ins, some may have noticed he is a bit bigger and thicker than Ward in the upper body, despite Ward weighing in a few ounces heavier. Barrera started his career off in the Cruiserweight division, so he is naturally the bigger man. On paper, his resume would seem to balance out some of Ward's edge in terms of experience and pedigree, but he will have to prove it in the ring.
Check out our Sweet Science coverage on the Ward-Barrera weigh-ins.