Roc Nation Sports will be looking to take a step forward in the boxing game, as their first real marquee fighter will be in action on June 20, with Andre Ward returning to the ring in Oakland as part of the company's new time-buy effort on BET.
Ward (27-0, 14 KO) was regarded as the world's top super middleweight and one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the sport before promotional issues with Goossen Tutor left him sidelined from November 2013 until now. The 31-year-old has fought just two times since 2011, when he defeated Carl Froch to complete his blitz through the Super Six World Boxing Classic, which elevated him from prospect to elite fighter.
Though Ward has had a deal with HBO, the network is passing on what is seen as another tune-up fight, this time coming against Paul Smith, who is coming off of two straight competitive losses to WBO titleholder Arthur Abraham. Smith, a 32-year-old British fighter, is 35-5 (20 KO) overall, and unless Ward winds up being rusty, won't be seen as a legitimate threat to the man looking to reclaim his throne atop the super middleweight division.
The fight is also notable in that it will stream live on Tidal.com, the music-streaming service recently launched by Jay-Z and other major artists (which is having a tough time getting going), which is pretty cool. (Of course, one has to subscribe to Tidal, but that's another story. If you're looking to save up a free week trial, maybe that's your best week.)