FORMER super-middleweight kingpin, Andre Ward, 28-0 (15), has confirmed he will fight Cuban contender, Sullivan Barrera, 17-0 (12) on March 26 at the Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, ahead of his proposed autumn showdown with dominant light-heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev.

The fight represents Ward’s debut at 175lbs, as well as being the first of a three-fight deal for the former Athens 2004 gold medalist with US broadcasting giant HBO, a deal which will culminate in a hotly-anticipated clash with the Russian “Krusher”, who has himself emerged head and shoulders above the rest of the light heavyweight division over recent years thanks to his clinical and destructive performances under trainer John David Jackson.

The soon-to-be 33 year-old Barrera, who was last seen stopping Karo Murat in five rounds in an IBF eliminator last December has been taunting Ward over social media, a factor the Oakland native confirmed is helping motivate him for the clash.

“I don’t really have much to say other than this: on March 26, it will be very simple. I’ll be in a new weight class against a tough opponent, but I’m coming with the same approach,” Ward said, confirming the fight. “I’ll be in great shape and ready for battle. Sullivan Barrera has had a lot to say lately, and I love it. He’s going to have an opportunity to back up every word that he has spoken. These are the type of challenges I like, and on March 26, it’s go time.”