The Twitterati groused when the Andre Ward-Chad Dawson scrap was made. They figured Andre Ward-Chad Dawson would be a bad style matchup, two technicians engaging in too much sweet science and not enough fighting. Well, there was fighting aplenty in the main event from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA on Saturday night, and it was Ward who showed off the better brand of it. Ward took it to Dawson, getting in and staying in his face, dropping the Connecticut boxer in the third and fourth and tenth. The ref halted the scrap when Dawson didn't act like he wanted to fight on.
HBO showed the scrap. Ward went 155-418, to 29-187 for the loser.
Ward (entering at 25-0 with 13 KOs; age 28; from Oakland), the WBA and WBC super middleweight champion, was 168 pounds on Friday, while Dawson (31-1 with 17 KOs; age 30; from New Haven, CT). On fight night, Dawson was 185, while Ward went up to 176.
A few hours after the fight, I touched base with Dawson's trainer, John Scully. He acknowledged that the effort to make 168 severely drained Dawson, and made him listless. And when did he know he had a problem, that the weight drain would be hurtful to the fighter who last made 168 in February 2006: "A few weeks ago."
Steve Smoger, a NY guy, reffed. Dawson said to him after that tenth round knockdown, "I'm finished, I'm done."
Ward thanked God first, of course, after the bout. He said to Larry Merchant that he wanted to take risks to give the fans a good fight and not take risk against a skilled boxer. He said he is on his way to being a good finisher, after being branded a non-finisher early on. He said the fight wasn't easy: "Chad Dawson is a monster in there." And what is next? He has no idea, he said. But a move to light heavy is possible. Dawson after said "he is a great champion. He's the best." He mentioned the weight, said he couldn't get off, that Ward was faster and stronger than he thought he'd be, and that he didn't want to take anything away from Ward. How good is Ward? "he's an excellent champion, he deserves to be on top," Dawson said.
In the first, both men did their share of assessing and holding. In the second, that lefty manner gave Ward some problems but he began to figure out the lefty. A butt of heads put a small cut on Dawson's right eye.
In the third, a left hook put Dawson down with 35 seconds to go. From there, the fight was all ward.
In the fourth, Dawson went down again, off a left hook, to start the round. Ward delivered his hook quicker, and tighter. Ward went into pitbull mode. Then Dawson collected himself some, and did well to exit the round.
In the fifth, Ward feinted, shook his head know when Dawson landed a clean left, and generally looked to be in command. Dawson's jab too often looked soft, pawing, ineffectual. In round six, Ward popped the jab, used the lead right downstairs, blocked the Dawson jab, stayed patient...basically, he fought a winning round.
In round seven, Dawson kept waiting, not dictating. In round eight, Larry Merchant wondered if Dawson had mentally given up. In tight, Ward banged while Dawson clinched. His uppercuts had the crowd buzzing. A slice on his right eye was attended to by Dawson's corner. "We got to dig down and hurt this guy," trainer John Scully told him. "You need to go for the win."
In round nine, Ward kept on being aggressive but smart. Same for ten; Chad needed to be Bad but he was the same as before. Ward scored another knockdown in the tenth, off a left hook. He told Steve Smoger no mas at 2:45.
After Vitali Klitchko smashed up no hoper Manuel Charr, Antonio DeMarco rubbed out John Molina. A straight left in the first hurt Molina, and ref Jack Reiss stepped in while Molina was cowering, eating a volley. The time elapsed was 55 seconds, and some wondered if Reiss pulled the plug prematurely. Molina was crouching, and didn't take a knee, so Reiss felt he wasn't defending himself. "He should have taken a knee," Merchant said. Were the ropes holding him up? On the refcam, it looked like Molina was sitting on the bottom rope, like on a toilet, so maybe a knockdown was called for. Harold Lederman said Reiss should not have stopped it, that in a title fight he should let it go. We can chew on that debate for a spell...The Mexican DeMarco holds on to the WBC lightweight title, while the Californian presumably now knows what to do in this situation.
Here is info in case you missed it:
HBO REPLAYS OF SATURDAY’S TRIPLEHEADER HEADLINED BY
ANDRE WARD VS. CHAD DAWSON AND ANTONIO DEMARCO VS. JOHN MOLINA JR. AND VITALI KLITSCHKO VS. MANUEL CHARR
HBO replays: Sunday, Sept. 9 (8:00 a.m.) and 10 (11:30 p.m.), HBO2 replays: Sunday, Sept. 9 (3:00 p.m.) and 11 (11:00 p.m.) All Times are ET/PT.
Other action on the card:
Franklin "Yah Yah" Lawrence (18-2-2, 13 KOs, Indianapolis, IN) W TKO7 (3:00) over Homero Fonseca (9-6-3, 2 KOs, Peirsaw, TX)
Malik Scott (35-0, 12 KOs, Philadelphia, CA) W TKO8 over Bowie Tupou (22-2, 16 KOs, Los Angeles, CA)
Tony Hirsch (13-5-2, 6 KOs, Oakland, CA) W UDEC over Roberto Yong (5-6-1, Sacramento, CA)
Ricardo Williams (20-3, 10 KOs, Cincinnati, OH) W MDEC 6 over Anthony Lenk (13-2, 7 KOs, Los Angeles, CA)
Randy Guerrero (1-0, Gilroy, CA) MAJ DRAW 4 vs. Juan Urbina (0-1, Santa Ana, CA)
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?