Andre Ward is aiming for a July 9 or July 16 return at his hometown Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, and Roc Nation are searching for an opponent for what would be a final interim fight before a highly-anticipated November 19 clash with Sergey Kovalev.
Ward (29-0, 15 KO) last fought on March 26, outpointing Sullivan Barrera at the same venue. The July fight is not a guarantee, though, as ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reports that the ongoing budget issues at HBO Sports could prevent Ward from making a fight for the summer, which would force him to wait until the Kovalev bout to return.
Rafael adds that top prospect and emerging contender Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (16-0, 13 KO) was offered the fight, but Shabranskyy, a Golden Boy fighter, and Roc Nation "were way apart on the money." Either this means that Shabranskyy asked for a lot of money to take the risk of fighting Ward at a time when, frankly, he doesn't need to be fighting Ward, or it means that there's just not a lot of money available. Or both.
If Ward does sit until November, he has shown that he can return from longer layoffs and still be plenty sharp, but he's made no bones about the fact that he would strongly prefer one more tune-up before taking on a significant challenge in Kovalev.
Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO) will next fight on July 11, facing veteran Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KO) in Russia.