In what shapes up as his sternest test yet as a professional boxer, Andre Ward will meet Andy Kolle in an eight-round middleweight co-feature at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT on Saturday night, April 29. This battle of unbeaten middleweight fighters will open the telecast of the first presentation of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” series of 2006. The 12-round main event pits top-ranked contender and former world champion, Acelino Freitas (37-1, 32 KOs) versus third-ranked Zahir Raheem (27-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title.
The USA’s sole gold medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Ward is coming off an impressive unanimous-decision victory celebrated on his 22nd birthday over Kendall Gould last month in California.
Since turning pro in December, 2004, the Oakland, CA native has won all eight of his fights – six via knockout. Managed by James Prince and trained by Virgil Hunter, Ward is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions and Roy Jones, Jr.’s Square Ring.
Ward’s skills and work ethic are held in such high regard that he – along with the great Roy Jones, Jr. – are the only boxers to have garnered a multi-year endorsement deal by Jordan, a division of Nike, Inc.
Andy Kolle brings an impressive 9-0 (7 KOs) record to the Foxwood’s contest. The hard-hitting, 23-year old native of Fergus Falls, MN, who is managed and trained by Chuck Horton, scored a sixth-round TKO win over Vance Garvey earlier this month in Fargo, ND.
“We’re excited showcasing Andre’s tremendous fighting skills on HBO’s ‘Boxing After Dark’ against another undefeated fighter,” Dan Goossen, Ward’s promoter, declared. “We feel that putting Andre in with another young, hungry, unbeaten fighter like Andy Kolle will bring out the best in Andre as he climbs the ranks of the middleweight division toward his eventual goal, the world championship.”
“As in years past, most of our great world champions developed in front of America’s watchful eye. Ali, Leonard, Foreman, de la Hoya all dazzled the fans on their climb to the top and I’m sure the fans in attendance and those watching on HBO are in for a real treat seeing what we believe is the next great champion from the Olympics,” Goossen said. “I am confident that Andre Ward will impress with his superior boxing skills and emerge with his perfect record intact.”
The main event and co-featured fight will be televised live at 10:15 P.M. (ET) on the first telecast of the year of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” series.