BET enters the boxing arena with Roc Nation Sports alliance, with first telecast set for June

BET is storming out of its corner with its first-ever rounds of professional boxing.

The network, which has traditionally programmed entertainment, music, news and public affairs for the African-American audience, told The Associated Press it has partnered with Roc Nation Sports to air up to nine live, two-hour telecasts of boxing events in the next 18 months.

The network promises the new program will "stretch the boundaries of the sport."

The first main event fight will feature WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Andre Ward (27-0) facing former World Title Challenger Paul Smith (35-5) of England on June 20 at Oakland's Oracle Arena.

The action inside the ring will be supplemented with a live musical performance as well as a DJ — a package of elements branded "throne boxing" by Roc Nation Sports and its founder, Shawn "Jay Z" Carter.