The premier fight of Saturday was a clash of the #1 super-middleweight (168 lbs) Andre Ward and the #1 light-heavyweight (175 lbs) "Bad" Chad Dawson in Ward's backyard of Oakland, California. It was Dawson moving down in weight to challenge Ward's WBC and WBA titles. The interest in this fight didn't match the high level of importance, as neither man was known for their exciting styles, but the 2004 Olympic gold medalist Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) put in one of the most impressive and systematic destructions of 2012. Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs) was dropped 3 times, and opted not to continue after the final knockdown in the 10th round. It marked the first time Dawson had ever been stopped as well as the highest profile stoppage of Ward's career.
Dawson held the early advantage in the first two rounds, as Andre was unable to solve Dawson's southpaw style. Ward didn't take any significant damage but hadn't strung together much offense himself. The fight took a dramatic turn in the 3rd round when Ward landed a beautiful straight right to the body, followed up with a crushing left hook to the jaw, sending Dawson to his knees. Dawson survived and didn't seem particularly fazed, but his 20-18 advantage had been erased in just one round with the knockdown.
Ward's left hook would find immediate success with literally the first punch of the very next round. His lunging shot caught Dawson off-guard, sent him to the canvas and Ward himself tripped over a falling Dawson. Chad looked noticeably hurt and wobbled this time around, and Ward (unsuccessfully) went in for the kill and eventually backed away towards the end of the 4th. That didn't stop him from administering the beating, however.
For the majority of rounds 5-9 Ward was landing with great precision, speed, and timing. In round 7 Ward was held against the ropes by Dawson, and Ward was firing away multiple vicious uppercuts and left hooks to the head of the clearly dispirited Dawson. Even when Dawson caught Ward with the occasional good shot his offense was thwarted with Ward's superior aggression and attacks. He had zero answers for Ward's left hook and the speed advantage for Ward was very clear.
More analysis plus video highlights after the jump.
The 10th round saw Ward catch Dawson rubber-legged after some punches to the temple, and this time he capitalized with a dynamic finale to end the fight. A follow-up combination of four punches dropped Dawson to his knees yet again, and Steve Smoger called off the fight when Dawson told Smoger he was done for the night. Let me be clear here, that does not make Chad Dawson a quitter at all. He came into the ring and was beaten soundly by a superior boxer, and knew there was no point in taking more damage. Dawson knew he had zero chance of a miracle finish and saved himself from further punishment.
The dominance of Ward can no longer go under the radar. He is undefeated right now and at 28 he could be unbeatable for quite some time. At no point has he shown glaring vulnerabilities and has beaten the best at 168 and now has added the Dawson whipping to his resume. His style isn't the most pleasing to someone who likes KOs and heavy lumber, but the technical mastery and skill level of Ward's boxing is a cut above the rest. I might be a little hyperbolic given Ward is from the same city as me (Hayward, CA), but when the time comes for Floyd Mayweather Jr., the Klitschko brothers, and Manny Pacquiao to step aside, Andre Ward will be the #1 dominant man in boxing instead of simply being one of the best. He is an elite fighter right now, and he could very well have the potential to be an all-time great when all is said and done. Chad Dawson is a very good fighter, but in Oakland last night Andre Ward proved to be sensational, and emphatically recorded the best win of his career.
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