Andre Ward (18-0, 12 KOs) faces Edison Miranda (32-3, 28 KOs) in a highly anticipated main event, but the Saturday, May 16 fight card at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. will also feature an outstanding undercard that includes unbeaten 2008 U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada, fast-rising junior lightweight prospect John Molina, Jr., and 2000 U.S. Olympic Games silver medalist Ricardo Williams.
The event, which will originate from the home of the Golden State Warriors, is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Productions. The Ward-Miranda bout will be presented in association with Seminole Warriors Boxing.
In his long-awaited first pro fight in his hometown, the undefeated and top-ranked 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Ward will risk his North American Boxing Organization (NABO) and North American Boxing Federation (NABF) 168-pound titles against the power-punching Miranda of Colombia in a 12-rounder that will be featured on a special Saturday primetime edition of ShoBox: The New Generation, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
Estrada (5-0, 5 KOs), 24, of East Los Angeles, competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, winning his opening fight before losing to the eventual 165-pound gold medalist, James Degale. Estrada has had his way since turning pro, winning all his fights by knockout, four in the first round.
“I couldn’t be more excited fighting on the card with our gold medalist,” said the hard-hitting Estrada, who faces his toughest assignment to date when he faces once-beaten Tony Hirsch in a four-round super middleweight bout on ShoBox.
“It’s tough winning gold, believe me I know, but now I have to win the fans over with my aggressive style that is definitely more suited for the pros than the amateur system.”
Hirsch (8-1-1, 4 KOs), of Oakland, is a former football player who has won four in a row and is unbeaten in his last six (5-0-1). A determined fighter with good stamina and a strong chin, Hirsch would still be unbeaten if not for a disputed TKO loss in a bout many felt was stopped prematurely.
Molina (16-0, 12 KOs) of Covina, Calif., faces the tough and talented veteran Frankie Archuleta (25-6-1, 14 KOs) of New Mexico in an eight-round lightweight encounter which is the most dangerous fight of Molina’s young career.
“This is another big opportunity for me to establish myself as a real rising talent,’’ said the lanky, up-and-coming Molina who has won his last two starts by knockout. “I’m ready to go all eight rounds, but I know the fans like KOs and that’s what I’m looking to do at Oracle.”
Molina is trained by respected California Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Joe Goossen, who has worked with, among many others, former world champions, Rafael and Gabriel Ruelas, Michael Nunn, Shane Mosley, Joel Casamayor and the late Diego “Chico” Corrales.
“I’ve trained a few big punchers in my time, but Molina just has this natural power, in both hands, that can render a man unconscious with just one shot,” Goossen said. “He is an excellent learner, very dedicated and knows what he wants to get out of this sport. He can go a long way.’’
Southpaw Williams (15-2, 8 KOs), of Cincinnati, will take on veteran puncher and gatekeeper Roberto Valenzuela (49-46-2, 40 KOs) of Tucson, Arizona in a six-round welterweight bout.
“Valenzuela has won two of his last three bouts and thinks that he can upset me now,’’ said Williams, “He’s a seasoned boxer and has fought all the up-and-coming fighters including world champ Andre Berto and Demetrious Hopkins but I’ll let him know that I’m not going to let him take control.’’
Still regarded as one of boxing’s top prospects, Williams is coming off a third-round TKO over Harrison Cuello on March 21, 2009.
Ward, who is perhaps one triumph away from a shot at a 168-pound world title, was the only boxer from the United States to capture a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and he remains the last American to bring home the gold.
In his last fight, Ward dominated an outclassed Henry Buchanan (17-2, 12 KOs) of Chesterfield, SC, to capture the vacant NABF title while defending his NABO 168-pound belt on Feb. 6, 2009, in Lemoore, Calif., on SHOWTIME.
In his outing before last, Ward returned from a knee injury in December to stop Esteban Camou in three rounds.
Ward won the 2004 Olympic gold medal at light heavyweight and became the only American to win an Olympic boxing gold medal since David Reid in 1996.
Ward, whose nickname is S.O.G. for “Son of God,” usually trains out of King’s Gym in Oakland under head trainer Virgil Hunter, but relocated to Las Vegas to train for May 16.
A former world title challenger and top 10 super middleweight contender, Miranda, who’s promoted by Seminole Warriors Boxing, knocked out Joey Vargas in the fifth round on March 20, 2009, in London, England, in his last fight.
The hard-hitting Miranda lost a controversial decision to International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in 2006. In his other defeats, Miranda lost to World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) titlist Kelly Pavlik in a May ‘07 slugfest and to Abraham in a non-title rematch in June ’08.
Miranda, nicknamed “Pantera,” has predicted an easy victory over Ward, who, like the aforementioned others on the undercard, are all up against their sternest opposition.
Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. PT with the first non-televised fight scheduled for 5 p.m.
Tickets, priced at $125, $75, $50 and $25, are on sale at the Oracle Box Office (Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; it is closed Sunday) or online through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or through Ticketmaster Outlets at the following outlet partners: select Macy’s stores and select Ritmo Latino stores.