By Jake Donovan
All systems are go for Andre Ward’s super middleweight bout with late sub Sakio Bika on Saturday evening at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Ward (22-0, 13KO) and Bika (28-4-2, 19KO) both made weight on the first try, checking in exactly at the super middleweight divisional limit of 168 lb. during their pre-fight weigh-in Friday afternoon in Oakland, California.
The bout will serve as the second leg of a super middleweight doubleheader (Saturday 9PM ET/PT), packaged with the same-day tape-delay feed of the Super Six Stage Three showdown between Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch.
Ward is the current Super Six scoreboard leader with six points, although his bout with Bika has no bearing on the outcome of the tournament brackets. Ward was originally scheduled to face 2004 Olympic teammate and close friend Andre Dirrell, who instead pulled out of the fight and dropped out of the tournament altogether.
Bika agreed to take his place, even under the condition of not being eligible for Super Six semifinal entry, regardless of the outcome Saturday evening.
The bout will mark the second defense of an alphabet title Ward earned with his near-shutout win over Mikkel Kessler a year ago during Stage One of the tournament. Ward is the only active American fighter to have captured Olympic gold.
Bika, winner of Season Three of The Contender, earns his second shot at an alphabet belt despite having lost his last bout. The loss came under auspicious circumstances, as he was easily handling Jean-Paul Mendy in their bout this past July, before getting tossed for hitting his foe while on the canvas.
While Ward’s current tournament lead does not guarantee him the top seed in the semifinals, his fate will have already been determined by the time he enters the ring on Saturday evening, as the Abraham-Froch results will have long been in the books due to the time difference.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at JakeNDaBox@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @JakeNDaBox.
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