With the 2008 Summer Olympic games in Beijing around the corner, the only American boxer to capture a gold medal in the last Olympics continues to climb the ladder of the professional ranks toward world title contention..
On Thursday night, March 20, Bay Area native Andre Ward will face his most formidable opponent to date when he puts his unbeaten record on the line against former world super middleweight title challenger Rubin “Mr. Hollywood” Williams in the main event of the fourth-season opener of the “American Metal & Iron Fight Night at the Tank” series at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
Presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions and HP Pavilion, the Ward-Williams headliner is a scheduled 10-round super middleweight contest which will be televised nationally (delayed, date and time to follow) on FSN’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period.”
Hailing from nearby Oakland, Ward (14-0, 9 KOs), who turned 24 this past Saturday and has knocked out his last four opponents, will be making his fourth appearance as a pro at the HP Pavilion. This time around he is ready for the big test against the very dangerous Williams (29-3-1, 16 KO), a native of Detroit.
“He’s tough on paper and he’s tough in person,” Ward, who most recently stopped Roger Cantrell on the Island of St. Lucia back in November, credited the 31-year old Williams. “He’s a title challenger who fell short against Jeff Lacy. Recently he fought a top-ten contender in Allan Green and he gave a pretty good account of himself. He’s a durable guy and is just the type of quality opponent we need right now.
“One of my famous phrases of the past couple of years is ‘Locked In,’ the Virgil Hunter-trained and James Prince-managed Ward continued. “I’m locked in on a goal to not only be a world champion, but I want to reign until it’s time for me to walk away from the sport. And that’s my focus. I know the steps I have to take and I’m ready and willing.”
For his part, Goossen locked in Williams as Ward’s next opponent because, as he revealed: “This is the next step up the ladder in Andre’s career. Williams presents a fighter that has been in there with a world champion and world contenders.”
Stated Ward’s longtime trainer, Virgil Hunter, “Rubin Williams will be a great indicator of Andre Ward’s progression towards a world title. He certainly is Andre’s most formidable opponent to date. This is a must see fight for the Bay Area fans and we are asking them to come out in huge numbers to show support for the Bay Areas Olympic Gold Medalist and future world champion.”
“As for Andre’s development,” Goossen concluded, “I’ve never been associated with anyone that has as much dedication and determination to becoming a better fighter. He understands that his future success is dictated by the hard work he puts into the gym and not what type of quotes any of us can make.”
The March 20 “Fight Night at the Tank” will also feature a second edition of Goossen Tutor’s unique audience-participation creation in “You Be The Judge,” originally unveiled at last November’s season finale at ‘The Tank.’ The concept: Make four 4 round preliminary killer bouts and then have the audience applaud its choice as the most outstanding boxer from the winners of those four bouts. Goossen Tutor will present the winner of “You Be The Judge” with a cash bonus from special VIP guest and legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.
The winner will also earn a returning spot in another round of “You Be The Judge” on the next “Fight Night at the Tank.” Last November’s “You Be The Judge” winner – super middleweight Francisco Santana (8-0, 4 KOs), of nearby Santa Barbara – earned the distinction of being the first participant to graduate to a co-feature bout; this coming underneath the Ward-Williams main event against another undefeated prospect, Karim ‘Hard Hitta’ Mayfield (5-0-1, 5 KOs) from the Fillmore section of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Both Santana and Mayfield have fought multiple times at ‘The Tank’ that have earned them their share of Bay Area fans. Two good, hot prospects, with both putting their unblemished records on the line against each other is a real treat for the fans and a tribute to these two young fighters and their teams.
“The HP Pavilion is a wonderful place to fight,” Ward said. “I call San Jose my second home to Oakland obviously. Great friends, great atmosphere with great fans, and I’m just so excited about this event.”
Individual tickets, starting at $25, to the March 20 edition of “American Metal & Iron Fight Night at the Tank” are on sale at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers located in Wherehouse Music stores, Tower Records and Ritmo Latino locations throughout the Bay Area; online at ticketmaster.com; or charge by phone at (408) 998-TIXS, (415) 421-TIXS or (510) 625-TIXS. Doors open at 6:30 pm. First bout at 7:30 pm.