In a little over 24 hours, Chad Dawson and Andre Ward will compete in a fight that on paper most boxing fans should be intrigued by. You have two highly skilled fighters in their late 20s prime foregoing weight class restrictions to compete in a contest with significant Pound 4 Pound implications. But since the announcement of the fight a few months back, there’s been a very vocal contingent of fans and writers that have deemed this fight “unnecessary,” “too soon,” and the most damning, a potential replay of the Devon Alexander vs. Timothy Bradley snoozefest debacle from last year.
The Alexander-Bradley comparison may be unfair; Dawson has shown the ability to dig deep when pushed (via a Fight of Year contender with his first bout against Glen Johnson), and Ward’s dominance of the Super Six doesn’t mean he can’t deliver a similar effort when pushed to his limits. While the supporters who declare that we may have a potential Leonard-Hearns I scenario are equally exhibiting hyperbole, it’s not out of the question that Dawson and Ward could surprise the boxing world with a scintillating battle. Read on to see what the fighters themselves are expecting to deliver Saturday night (September 8).
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’re on record as stating Andre Ward is “just another fighter” and “nothing special.” Now that camp is over and you’ve viewed extensive tape, has your opinion changed any?
Dawson: I feel there are a lot of things he lacks; he’s a good fighter but the media is portraying him like he’s some type of super fighter. I was 25-0 at one point in my career; I don’t feel he’s on the level that everyone puts him on.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Because of his inside game, there are those who compare Ward to Bernard Hopkins and expect this bout to look at lot like your two fights with the Executioner. Do you see that?
Dawson: There’s some similarities. If you compare Ward to Hopkins now, they don’t have many because Bernard is older and has slowed down. But if you compare Hopkins in his prime there’s no competition; Hopkins was a much better fighter. I don’t see too many now that I think of it.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: I noticed in your two bouts with Hopkins that you did your best work when you returned Hopkins’ rough-housing and used your faster hands to counter him when he rushed in. How much of that can you take in against Ward?
Dawson: I don’t think people realize how much stronger I’ll be inside. I’ve made the weight comfortably and plan to weight between 180-185 on fight night. I’m going to be the bigger guy and he won’t be able to push me around like he’s done a lot of those smaller European guys in the Super Six. I think once he sees that he’ll stay on the outside and try to outpoint me. He won’t be able to do that, either.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Let’s say you win. If you can make 168 comfortably, could you move between super-middleweight and light-heavyweight and defend both belts as opportunities arise?
Dawson: To be quite honest right now I don’t know. 168 has a lot of names but I do think a lot of those guys will be moving up soon, so I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot when I can just wait for those guys to come to me. But I’ll take the big fights where they come.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Outside the ring, Ward has an advantage with the fight being before his hometown fans in Oakland. Since this could turn into a technical battle, as your last KO came in 2007 and Ward’s in 2009, how concerned are you about being treated fairly on the scorecards?
Dawson: Nah, it never entered my mind. It might be in his hometown, but at the end of the day it’s a fight between me and him. No one can get in the ring and fight for him. I know what I have to do. So his supposed advantages never really enter my mind.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You have a good number of name fighters on your resume. As of today, how satisfied are you about your legacy?
Dawson: Nah, there’ s a lot more [I need to do]. I’ve beaten good names, but you always want to keep pushing and not rest on your laurels. I have a lot more to give the sport and show my skill, and another chapter gets added against Andre Ward.
JOHN SCULLY, DAWSON TRAINER
For me, as the trainer, especially, the whole thing is winning, above all else, above the crowd, above the legacy, above everything, winning is the most important thing, and that’s how we have to approach the fight. I do think that Chad has the ability and the potential to open up more and be more exciting, and I honestly have the feeling that Andre is going to bring that out of him.
I’m surprised that after seeing Chad in the first Glen Johnson fight, the way he responded like a warrior, I think a lot of people think that that’s like a weakness with him, but I read where people have said, “Oh, man, Andre’s going to get inside,” and he’s going to do this and that, and I actually think, and he can tell you better, but I think Chad wants him to come like that.
I think Chad welcomes him making it a good fight. I think the better the fight is, the more Chad is going to like it, because it’s going to draw out all of the things that he has in him, because the fact of the matter is, and I know this from knowing Chad since he was a kid, there is so much talent and power and explosiveness that the fact is he’s never shown, he hasn’t had to show, because he’s won the majority of these fights so easily, so I think it could very well turn into the fight people want to see, and I think contrary to the belief of some people, I think it’s going to favor Chad if it turns into that kind of fight.
On Being a “Boring Fighter”
You know what, my mind’s set. I’m on a one-track mission and that’s to get my hand raised. I think if you really watch my fights, I do a little bit of everything in my fights. I think the knock is like Virg said, if you don’t take a certain amount of punishment, then, people who are really not, I don’t want to say ignorant of the sport, but people who like a certain type of fight, if you don’t take a lot of punishment or it doesn’t seem like you’re getting hit that often, you’re reluctant, you’re getting tired of being boring.
Well, the guys that make it in this sport, the greats, the guys that can still walk and talk when their careers are over and still live their lives like Sugar Ray Leonard and guys like Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, those guys, obviously they took shots, they’re in the sport of boxing. Those guys are masters, and I’ve always been trained to be a master, and that’s what I’m going to continue training to become is a master of the sport, where even though no fight is easy, you make it look a certain way.
So, I’m really oblivious to what people are saying, how they feel about the fight. I think it’s a great match up. I think the match and the credentials speak for themselves, but I’m locked in, I’m getting my hand raised.
On Dawson Being the Bigger Man
A lot of people are making a big deal about Chad’s height and reach and that’s a given. He’s got the height and reach advantage, but you’ve got to look at it from my standpoint, from the athlete’s standpoint, I’m not enamored with that. I’m not spooked by the height and the reach deficit. I’m coming to get a job done September 8th, and it’s no different than any other fight that I’ve been in. Whether it’s Abraham who’s short, squatty, and explosive, Carl Froch who’s strong, long, and wiry. I mean, at the end of the day you got to find a way and I’ve always said that and September 8th will be no different.
On Being a Hard Negotiator and Refusing to Budge on the 168 lb. Weight
I think first and foremost, he [Dawson] shouldn’t have said it. That’s Negotiating 101. He negotiated against himself when he said that, first of all. Second of all, I personally never demanded a weight. Now, you have to understand that the promoters, they talk and I’m sure Dan and Gary had initial discussions probably before, I don’t know, but probably before Bernard Hopkins. I’m not privy to every conversation.
Dan brings back what he needs to bring back, but in terms of me demanding 170, that never happened. As far as I’m concerned, when I sat on my couch, and I heard him say what he said, the fight was signed, sealed, and delivered at that weight. It was never brought to me in terms of what weight do you want it to be at. It was a foregone conclusion. For him to say that on national television, then double back, and say, “Oh, we wanted 170.” That’s a contradiction of what he said in the post-fight interview. Why would you say that and then try to go back and get a catch weight? Well, it doesn’t work like that. This is business.
VIRGIL HUNTER, WARD TRAINER
Well, first of all, the fight in itself is going to be exciting, and I think you have two determined athletes, there’s a lot at stake. I’m sure they’re very much aware of some of the criticism and the critiques that have come that way where it’s amazing to me where people can predetermine the outcome of a fighter, even speak in a negative tone of what they think.
It’s unfortunate today that the purist has been pushed aside for what is deemed, in my eyes, as we no longer teach the art of boxing anymore. We just put some gloves on people and we just point them in the middle of the ring and say, “Go, and swing, and keep swinging, and keep your hands down and get hit in the head, any time you want.
You can’t help; it’s always got to be of certain, to me, a division of fans who are going to appreciate what boxing is truly all about. It’s also going to be those fans who really don’t understand boxing and can’t get a grasp of what this sport truly is, unless they see something that they consider much exciting today, in terms of 100 head shots landing within five rounds, and bloody noses and busted eyes and things like that, but it is what it is. I expect a great fight and I know coming from my end, Andre Ward is not a boring fighter. When you dominate, he could appear boring, but when we talk about action, he’s an action fighter, without a doubt.
It’s just plain and simple, Andre Ward knows how to fight. It’s like in any other sport, when you know your craft and someone’s on the receiving end of that craft, then it’s made to look easy. Look, there’re a lot of times we can say that these two guys had a tremendous amount of heart because they went in the middle of the ring, they dug their feet in the canvas, and they went toe-to-toe. I, in particular, think that’s an out and it’s a margin of error.
Let me tell you something, man, any fighter if you gave him a choice, if you gave them the opportunity, if I had a magic wand and I said, I can poof you here and you can go up to a fight and you won’t take no punishment. Or I can poor you here and you can go into to a fight and you’ll give some of the greatest toe-to-toe fights in history. I guarantee you he’s going to take the one where he’s taking no punishment. It comes down to ability, it comes down to talent, and it comes down to understanding the art and the craft of boxing.
So, when you see two guys going toe-to-toe, nine times out of ten, if you look at all their fights, these fights suggest this because there’re limitations somewhere. So, they were taught how to fight in such a way that they missed a lot of things that the game offered in terms of developing craft.
So, I can’t be fooled. Every single person who looks for this fight-if they had a son that chose boxing and they had an opportunity to have a coach that’ll teach their son how to hit and not to get hit, they’re going to take that coach before they take one that’ll say, well, I’ll take your son and he’ll give just as much as he takes. They’re going to take that coach that says, I can have your son hit and not get hit. So, to me, that’s excitement in boxing, mastering that craft. So, again, I say it’s limitations on the other fighter.
Even when you look at Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, you saw strategy in that in fight. Now, when they got older and they lost some of their physical ability and attributes, the second fight was a little bit more action packed. They didn’t, there was lesser athletic ability, they were a little older. But, that first fight, that was a very strategic fight. It was not what you would call a slam, bam, drag-you-to-the-mud type fight.
“Ward vs. Dawson – World Champions – Made In America”
Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson World Championship showdown, set to take place September 8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The co-feature will see WBC Champion Antonio DeMarco battle John “The Gladiator” Molina Jr. in a 12-round fight for the WBC Lightweight title. Both bouts will be televised live on HBO® World Championship Boxing at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT.
The event is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Gary Shaw Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Productions and SOG Promotions and sponsored by Corona, City of Oakland, Azad Watches and 95.7 The Game.
Tickets priced at $300, $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25 and are available for purchase online at http://www.oraclearena.com, http://www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at the ORACLE Arena box office.