Andre Ward is looking to make a July return for a tune-up, to keep pace with Sergey Kovalev, before the two meet on November 21 on HBO pay-per-view.
With Kovalev facing Isaac Chilemba in Russia on July 11, Ward (29-0, 15 KO) and Roc Nation Sports are working to put together at July 30 fight at Oakland's Oracle Arena, Ward's home arena.
According to ESPN.com, the leading candidate is Nathan Cleverly (29-3, 15 KO), and an offer has been made to Matchroom Boxing. The Cleverly side is interested, which is logical enough, as it's a chance at a big fight following a loss to Andrzej Fonfara last October in Chicago. The other possible opponents are Colombia's Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KO) and Swedish prospect Erik Skoglund (25-0, 11 KO). Ward was supposed to face Brand last November on the Canelo-Cotto card, but pulled out with an injury and didn't fight until March.
These are solid enough options for a tune-up fight, which is simply about keeping Ward sharp and making sure he's in the best spot possible for the big showdown with Kovalev. Neither of them are taking risks, but Chilemba is at least a fringe contender, and that's sort of the level Ward is targeting, too.