Andre Ward to return against Paul Smith on June 20

23/04/2015 09:04

WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) will return to the ring after a 19-month layoff against Britain's Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs) on June 20 at the Oracle Arena, Oakland, California.

Ward’s last outing was a one-sided points win over Edwin Rodriguez in November 2013, and he has only fought twice since defeating Carl Froch in December 2011.

His inactivity were due to a shoulder injury and a contract dispute with late promoter Dan Goossen, who died in September 2014.

Ward reached a settlement with Goossen's family and the 2004 Olympic gold medalist recently signed with Roc Nation Sports.

"I'm very excited to be coming back on June 20 at Oracle Arena in my hometown of Oakland, which has been a long time coming," said Ward.

“I have an extremely tough fighter in front of me in Paul Smith, who’s looking to pull the upset, but I can’t let that happen.

"I have to be on my best game to turn Smith away and beat him the way I want to beat him.

“As always, I’m ready to put on a tremendous performance in front of my hometown fans. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.”

Smith challenges the undefeated American in his third straight world title shot. The former British champion is coming off two decision defeats to WBO champion Arthur Abraham.

"I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward," said Smith. "I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Arthur Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing. Andre is a top pound-for-pound fighter and someone I respect a lot, but he has only boxed once in almost three years and I will give it everything I have got.
"I am fresh and confident going into this fight. It's a massive opportunity for me and one that I took with both hands when it was offered. I have spent a lot of time boxing in the United States and I look forward to returning for this fight."