By Ryan Burton
BoxingScene.com has been advised that an agreement has been reached for former unified super middleweight champion Andre Ward (28-0, 15KOs) to face undefeated light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera on March 26th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. The fight will headline an HBO Championship Boxing card with a co-feature bout to be announced in the near future.
The fight has been rumored for a few weeks now and will kick off Ward's three fight agreement pact with HBO.
The bout is Ward's first foray as a full fledged light heavyweight and if he is victorious, will lead to an end of year pay-per-view showdown against WBA/WBO/IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, who faces Jean Pascal in a rematch on Saturday as part of an HBO televised doubleheader.
Ward was scheduled to return to the ring last November as part of the Miguel Cotto-Saul Alvarez pay-per-view undercard, but he suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. He last fought in June 2015 and stopped an overmatched Paul Smith in nine rounds. It was Ward's first fight since a November 2013 decision victory over Edwin Rodriguez.
Ward's career has suffered a lot of inactivity in recent years due to injuries and a legal battle with his former promoter, the late Dan Goossen. Ward signed a promotional agreement early last year with Roc Nation Sports.
Barrera risks a guaranteed title shot at Kovalev. He became the IBF's mandatory challenger after stopping the usually durable Karo Murat in five rounds last December. Earlier in the year he knocked out former champion Jeff Lacy in four rounds in July and Hakim Zoulikha in eight rounds in eight. Barrera is trained by Abel Sanchez, who is best known by today's fans as the head trainer of middleweight king Gennady Golovkin and several other fighters.
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