BET Networks is pleased to announce that it is stepping into the ring with Roc Nation Sports as their exclusive broadcast partner to air live throne boxing events on the network.
The partnership between BET Networks and Roc Nation Sports is the first of its kind for the network and includes airing up to nine live, two-hour telecasts of Roc Nation Sports throne boxing events over the next 18 months. The first main event fight to air on BET Networks will feature WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KO’s) facing former World Title Challenger Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KO’s) of England in a 12 round bout on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. In addition to the great action inside the ring, the telecast will feature several notable Roc Nation touches that offer an unprecedented fan experience, including a live musical performance and a name DJ to keep the energy at a high level throughout the night. Fans can catch the action live on BET in the United States and globally on TIDAL.com, the newly launched music streaming service that combines the best high fidelity sound quality, high definition music videos and expertly curated editorial.
Tickets priced at $250, $125, $90, $60 and $30, not including applicable service charges and taxes, go on sale Friday, April 24 at 10:00 AM PT and will be available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at Ticketmaster.com and charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.
“BET is constantly searching for ways to expand its portfolio of content with the sole goal of satisfying our audiences,” said Stephen G. Hill, President of Programming, BET Networks. “Roc Nation is doing very exciting things in the entertainment space and we are excited to partner with them on this groundbreaking deal positioning BET Networks as a go-to destination for premier live boxing events. Together, we’ll provide unique entertainment.”
“We’re thrilled to not only be introducing our newest broadcast partnership with BET Networks, but also to use this new platform to telecast Andre Ward’s highly anticipated return to the ring,” said David Itskowitch, COO – Boxing of Roc Nation Sports. “On June 20, we will once again provide fans a night of exciting throne boxing fights, live musical entertainment and an unprecedented fan experience.”
“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’m equally excited to be fighting on BET in front of a potential viewership of over 90 million homes. As a fighter, this diversifies my portfolio and puts me in front of a whole different audience. 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 and those watching on BET. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.”
“I cannot wait to get back in the ring and test myself against a class act like Andre Ward. I proved that I belong at the top level with my performances against Arthur Abraham and this is a challenge that I am relishing,” said Smith. “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.”
Known for his strong character and integrity outside the ring and his killer instinct inside it, Andre Ward’s skill and talent were apparent early in his outstanding amateur career. He racked up every title in the books, culminating with a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. As the only male American boxer to claim Olympic gold since 1996, Ward joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya. He turned professional on December 18, 2004, scoring a second round technical knockout victory over Chris Molina at Staples Center in a fight that was televised live on HBO. He has gone on to rack up 26 more victories since then, building an ever-growing legion of fans in the process. After becoming the Ring Magazine and WBA Super Middleweight World Champion, rising to the number two spot on the pound-for-pound list and winning the 2011 Fighter of the Year Award (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America), it was announced that Ward signed an exclusive promotional agreement with Roc Nation Sports in January 2015, opening a new chapter in his storied boxing career. Now the Bay Area product is ready to return to the ring on June 20 at the Oracle Arena in front of his hometown fans in Oakland, California.
Paul “Real Gone Kid” Smith enters his fight against pound-for-pound star Ward coming off of two heroic performances against WBO Super Middleweight World Champion Arthur Abraham. Smith challenged the Armenian-German for his title in Kiel, Germany in September 2014 and put on the performance of his career in his world title first shot. The 32-year-old native of Liverpool was the clear winner of large parts of the fight and celebrated at the bell in front of a hushed partisan crowd that thought that Abraham had been dethroned. Smith was not expecting the wide scorecards that were read out in favor of the hometown fighter and, judging by the far-reaching outrage at the lopsided numbers, neither were the majority of the boxing world and beyond, with Smith receiving support from some of Britain’s biggest sports stars on social media. A rematch was the only possible scenario and, like a true champion, Abraham duly obliged. Smith returned to Germany in February of this year to face Abraham again, this time in Berlin, but Abraham was a different fighter the night of their second fight, successfully defending his belt against a brave challenge from Smith. Once again the judges’ were forced to give a verdict and this time a decision win by Abraham was met with no outcry of controversy. On June 20, “Real Gone Kid” will return to the ring and once again venture into hostile territory to take on one of boxing’s best, looking to silence the crowd.
Ward vs. Smith, a 12 round bout presented by Roc Nation Sports, takes place Saturday, June 20 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, will be televised live on BET and streamed globally on TIDAL.com at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT and is presented in association with Matchroom Sport.
ABOUT BET NETWORKS:
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks – BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.