By Mark Vester
There are ongoing negotiations to finalize a fight between WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KOs), and Contender winner Sakio Bika (28-4-2, 19 KOs), for November 27 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. There is no confirmation on whether the fight will be part of the Super Six Boxing Classic, or if Ward is making the Bika defense outside of the tournament.
If a deal is reached, Bika would replace Ward's original opponent Andre Dirrell, who withdrew last week from the Super Six. Dirrell is claiming neurological issues that possibly stem from the disqualification win over Arthur Abraham in March. Abraham hit Dirrell with a right hand while he was already down in the eleventh round of their fight. Dirrell crumbled down to the mat and Abraham was given the DQ.
For the last few months, there have been strong rumors that Ward and Dirrell were very reluctant to fight each other in the tournament. They are close friends and Olympic teammates. The fight was previously scheduled for September 25 but there was never a venue secured and a deal was never close to being finalized between promoters Gary Shaw and Dan Goossen. Reliable sources were advised people that both fighters were not even training.
The mounting rumors prompted Showtime to issues legal letters to both promoters, directing them to ensure that their fighters move forward with their scheduled stage three showdown. Showtime Sports General Manager Ken Hershman was not a happy camper during last week's conference call to disclose Dirrell's withdrawal.
The possible inclusion of Bika has raised more eyebrows because both Bika and Dirrell are managed by the very influental Al Haymon. Some of the other promoters, including those within the Super Six, are convinced that Ward and Dirrell had no intention of fighting each other. One Haymon fighter replacing another Haymon fighter has certainly added fuel to the fire, especially since Bika had recently turned down the opportunity to replace the withdrawing Mikkel Kessler as the Super Six opponent for Allan Green on November 6.