Wednesday, June 17, 2015

No Holds Barred: Andre Ward, Paul Smith, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr.; Plus Bob Mayeri on Wilder-Molina

(Photograph of Deontay Wilder and Eric Molina by Bob Mayeri)

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman previews this Saturday's Andre Ward-Paul Smith, Shawn Porter-Adrien Broner, and Errol Spence Jr.-Roberto Garcia fights, and reviews with our correspondent Bob Mayeri this past Saturday's Deontay Wilder-Eric Molina fight.

The 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, with a spotless record of 27-0 and 14 KOs, and still holding a super middleweight title, will be returning to the ring after an absence of 19 months, due to injuries and legal battles. His opponent in what he refuses to call a tune-up fight is British fighter and TV commentator Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs), who is coming off two consecutive close losses to slugger Arthur Abraham. This fight will take place at a catch weight of 172 pounds.

The Andre Ward-Paul Smith fight headlines a Throne Boxing card, presented by Roc Nation Sports, this Saturday, June 20, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. It will be televised live in the U.S. on BET and streamed globally on at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT, as well as shown in the U.K. on Sky Sports.

Earlier the same day, former world champion Shawn Porter (25-1-1, 16 KOs) will face another former world champion, Adrien Broner (30-1, 22 KOs), in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions on NBC (PBC on NBC) card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This fight, also at a catch weight, will be at a limit of 144 pounds. The co-feature will have unbeaten prospect Errol Spence Jr. (16-0, 13 KOs) facing veteran Roberto Garcia (37-3, 23 KOs) in a ten-round welterweight bout.

The PBC on NBC telecast, this Saturday, June 20, begins in the U.S. at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT, and will also be shown in the U.K. on Sky Sports.

We spoke with Andre Ward, Paul Smith, Shawn Porter, and Errol Spence Jr. on Monday's media conference calls.

In his comments, Andre Ward discussed what needs to happen for him to become a mega-star like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Paul Smith explained why he is inspired to do his best in this fight, even though the card is aimed at showcasing the return of Andre Ward.

Shawn Porter discussed what he has learned in his career and why he believes he will defeat Adrien Broner. Broner no-showed the conference call. Also, Errol Spence Jr. discussed why Roberto Garcia is the most experienced and one of the toughest fighters he will face. Garcia was unavailable for the conference call.

In addition, we spoke about the ninth-round knockout win by WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) over journeyman Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs) this past Saturday, June 13, in Birmingham, Alabama, with Bob Mayeri, who was covering and photographing that fight live in the Bartow Arena. We also discussed what might be next for Wilder, how he might fare against the top heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko, and what might be learned by those running the sport of wrestling from the promotion of this fight.

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