Andre Ward ready for next light heavyweight challenge

Undefeated Andre Ward is ready to take the next step in his boxing career.

The former super middleweight world champion has moved up to light heavyweight and will fight at 175 pounds for the first time March 26 against Sullivan Barrera at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on an HBO-televised card.

Ward, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist who is 28-0 with 15 knockouts, said he’s excited about the possibilities at light heavyweight, including a megafight with world champion Sergey Kovalev either this year or next.

“I definitely feel stronger,” Ward said. “I still feel like I have my speed. I still feel like I have all the things that made who I was at super middleweight. But I also feel a lot stronger at 175.

“I’m a lot happier because I don’t have to kill myself, per se, to make weight.”

Ward said he’s aware of Kovalev looming, and that’s why he will not overlook Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs).

“He’s a solid fighter,” Ward said. “He seems to be technically sound. He seems to have a good pedigree. And he’s got a good team, so we’re taking him very seriously like we do every opponent.”

Ward isn’t apologizing for the fight being in his hometown of Oakland.

“I’ve heard people talk about ‘all he does is fight in Oakland,’” Ward said. “But I’m coming up on almost 30 fights as a pro, and I think this may be my eighth time fighting in Oakland. So it’s a huge disparity vs. the amount of times I have fought here and when I haven’t.”

GOLDEN GLOVES REGIONALS

The Santa Fe Station will host this weekend’s Golden Gloves Regionals, which will feature amateur fighters from Nevada, Arizona, Washington and Oregon.

Nine boxers, including Las Vegas’ Freudis Rojas Jr. at 123 pounds and Kevin Arnold at 160 pounds, will represent Nevada. The winners will advance to the national Tournament of Champions from May 16 to 21 in Salt Lake City.

Tickets are $10 daily. The first bell for today and Sunday is scheduled for 3 p.m.

ASHLEY NOT INTIMIDATED

Junior welterweight Ashley Theophane isn’t worried about World Boxing Association champion Adrien Broner running his mouth as he prepares for their April 1 fight in Washington, D.C.

They will meet in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions card on Spike TV.

At his media day Wednesday, Theophane (39-6-1, 11 KOs) said: “(Broner) can talk, but on fight night, we have to fight. He said he’s going to stop me in four rounds. But I’m not going anywhere. When he sees I’m still there in Round 5, he’s going to start to get worried.”

Theophane, who is with Mayweather Promotions and lives in Las Vegas, said he has waited a long time for a title shot and now gets it against Broner (31-2, 23 KOs).

“It’s been a hard road,” said Theophane, 35. But my career has been if you believe in yourself and never give up, you will get your opportunity. Now it’s up to me to take it.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj

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