Although Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) has returned to training, he still is recovering after successful surgery in January to repair an injured right shoulder that forced the cancelation of his March defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik, who has since retired.
Ward was last in the ring for September’s 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs), prompting Sulaiman and the WBC to declared Ward its “Champion Emeritus,” essentially stripping him of the belt.
That status also upgrades the winner of Bika-Periban from “interim” to “full” titleholder.
Under those conditions, Sulaiman said Ward would be eligible to fight for the belt whenever he is healthy.
“Yes, Bika will fight for the title,” said Sulaiman. “And whenever Ward is ready to resume, that title fight will be ordered for Ward to fight the reigning champion.”
“I feel like I won the belt when I fought Joe Calzaghe. I fought him in England, and the fight was very close, I felt. When I went back and watched the fight, I thought that I won the fight,” said Bika, during a January interview with RingTV.com. “Everybody I fight, I fight in their hometown. Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, and I feel like I won those fights. I feel like I won the first six rounds against Bute, so how can you lose a fight when you won the first six rounds.”
“Andre Ward is a great fighter, and he’s a true champion, but when I look at myself, I look at myself as the champion. I think that I won all of those fights, but it was their home town. In Feburary, I will be on neutral terrirory, so I’m very happy that I’m fighting for the belt again. In February, I’m looking forward to doing my job and winning that fight and becoming a world champion. This is my time to shine.”
Bika will be aftter his fourth straight win and his third knockout during that run against Periban on the undercard of a welterweight main event featuring Marcos Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) and Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Bika is coming off February’s unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Nikola Sjekloca of Montenegro, and Periban, last month’s second-round knockout of Samuel Miller.
Photo by Al Bello, Golden Boy Promotions-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com