By Keith Idec
Andre Ward wants to make history and prove his greatness.
Those are the primary reasons, according to the undefeated former super middleweight champion, that he has moved up from 168 pounds to 175. If Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) beats Cuban-born Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) in his first legitimate light heavyweight fight Saturday night at Oakland’s Oracle Arena (HBO), he is contractually committed to facing unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBO 175-pound champion Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) later this year.
“I’m extremely excited,” Ward recently stated. “I’m daring to be great. I didn’t have to come up to this weight class. I didn’t have to take on these kind of challenges. But at the same time, I felt like I did have to. I’m a student of boxing and throughout the years, all of the greats did – all of them. I can go down a list of 20, 30 guys right now that took on that challenge and went up in weight, and became multi-divisional champions. And those are the guys that I try to emulate and guys that I look up to. It really inspired me.
“This move right here was not about money. It’s about just wanting to be great. And I want to be great. I don’t just want to be a really good fighter. I want to be considered one of the guys who took on the best throughout his career, throughout the ups, throughout the downs who always challenged the best. And that’s what I want to be remembered for and that’s what this move is all about.”
Ward’s fight against Barrera will be just his third in the 3½ years since he dominated Chad Dawson. Knee and shoulder injuries, as well as an extended legal battle against late promoter Dan Goossen, have limited Ward to fights against Edwin Rodriguez and Paul Smith since he stopped Dawson in the 10th round of their September 2012 bout at Oracle Arena.
HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” broadcast is scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. ET on Saturday night. The doubleheader will begin with a 10-round featherweight fight that’ll pit Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (23-1-1, 16 KOs) against 2012 Olympian JoJo Diaz (19-0, 11 KOs), of Downey, California.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.