Andre Ward’s light-heavyweight debut coming March 26 in Oakland

Andre Ward lands a punch on Edwin Rodriguez during a super-middleweight bout on Nov. 16, 2013.

Andre Ward lands a punch on Edwin Rodriguez during a super-middleweight bout on Nov. 16, 2013.

(Harry How / Getty Images)

Unbeaten former super-middleweight champion Andre Ward will make his light-heavyweight debut – and fight for only the second time since November 2013 – when he meets Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera on March 26.

Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports announced Tuesday that Oakland’s Ward (28-0, 15 knockouts) will fight the unbeaten Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) at Oakland’s Oracle Arena on HBO.

Ward was due to fight on the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Miguel Cotto card in November, but injured his knee as a result of what trainer Virgil Hunter said was over-training.

It was announced on Alvarez-Cotto fight week that Ward and unbeaten three-belt light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev had agreed in principle to fight in late 2016.


Kovalev dominated Canada’s Jean Pascal in Montreal on Jan. 30, forcing Pascal trainer Freddie Roach to stop the bout after seven rounds.

Ward, who’ll turn 32 on Feb. 23, is the most recent U.S. gold medalist in boxing, but a contract dispute with his late former promoter Dan Goossen shelved him, and Ward returned in June to defeat Paul Smith in a bout with little fanfare that was shown on BET.

“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 in a statement released by Roc Nation Sports. “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.”

Ward’s looming fight with Kovalev requires a victory over Barrera, who resides in Miami. Russian Kovalev is interested in a summer bout in his home country, promoter Kathy Duva said.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire