During the course of the last six years, WBA/WBC light heavyweight title holder Chad Dawson 31-2 (17) has defeated Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek (who went 10 rounds with WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko four years later) Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver twice each along with all-time great and legend Bernard Hopkins in his last fight before fighting the baddest super-middleweight on the planet, Andre Ward, this past Saturday night.
From the start of the third round on Ward systematically took apart Dawson. Ward had Dawson down in the third, fourth and 10th rounds of the fight. When Dawson beat the count and got to his feet after being knocked to one knee in the tenth round, he not only signaled with his demeanor to referee Steve Smoger that he was finished, he actually said it. And although the audio is pretty difficult to decipher, it is clear enough to discern that Dawson said "I"m finished, I'm done" and "it's over."
With that, referee Smoger immediately stopped the fight and spared Dawson from being further damaged both physically and psychologically. Now, unfortunately, Dawson is being excoriated as a gutless coward by some wannabe tough guy writers and fans, which is another layer of proof that guys who are quick to call a professional fighter the caliber of Chad Dawson a coward and quitter have never had their ass on the line and if the gloves were thrown to them, they'd throw'em back. Believe me when I say it, I've seen that scenario played out many times during my travels.
Another thing that's mind boggling is, those who are now praising Ward as the best and most complete fighter in boxing just so happen to say in the next breath that Dawson is a bum and a quitter, something that wasn't uttered once in any column or discussion I heard in the run up to the fight. And if that's the case, why is Ward receiving so much praise for beating a bum? It's amazing how after a big fight the winner is lauded for being so spectacular, yet the loser becomes an onion because he lost to a supposed great fighter, the winner.
Instead of the winner is great and the loser sucks mentality, why don't fans see the reality of the situation? That being, in this case Chad Dawson is really some fighter, but Andre Ward must be outta this world good in order to be able to dominate and control Dawson for eight of the 10 rounds they spent in the ring fighting. Just look at the fighters Dawson beat on the way to fighting Ward.
The last thing Dawson ever thought about or envisioned was a scenario in which Ward could handle and control him so convincingly, that before the end of the 10th round his confidence cup would be completely empty and he'd be willing to tell the referee in front of millions of people that he'd had enough and was to the point to where he accepted that there was nothing he could do to seize the fight and beat Ward.
Do you know how much it takes to push a fighter like Dawson to say he's done while he's still on his feet and capable of at least attempting to continue? Remember, this is the same fighter who accused Bernard Hopkins of looking for a way out and bailing on him after he threw Hopkins to the canvas during the second round of their first fight when Hopkins injured his shoulder.
It's the most disheartening thing in the world for a fighter in his prime like Chad Dawson to get into the ring with someone who he thinks he can beat (or, at worst, he thinks is more or less his equal), and then find out that he's getting beaten up round after round. In a way, it's worse than getting knocked out early, since that can happen to almost anyone. But if you try everything you know how to do, and the other guy is simply better at everything, and then he starts to systematically hurt you, it just takes away every shred of belief you have in yourself.It must be like a nightmare. You can't make excuses. The only conclusion you can come to is "this guy is a lot better than me." Who wants to have to confront that?
Think about all that Ward did to Dawson during the last eight rounds of the fight. He showed Dawson that he could hurt him, and that Chad really couldn't hurt him. He also convinced Dawson that he not only had an answer for any and everything he tried, but he also had ways and means (head and body feints, and punch variation) that Dawson couldn't anticipate or stop. And lastly, as the fight was progressing Dawson was starting to get hurt and feel some pain for either waiting on or guessing wrong against Ward.
After the third knockdown of the fight in the 10th round, Dawson was to the point psychologically that he not only accepted that he couldn't beat Ward, but also knew that if he continued trying he'd probably end up back on the canvas. The point is, Ward showed Dawson enough down the stretch of the fight that really spooked him and he didn't want to risk being further embarrassed or knocked out, a position that no other fighter had ever pushed him to before.
This is not giving Dawson a pass, because at the end of the day Ward made him say "No Mas." It's also apparent that Dawson doesn't posses a constitution quite as deep as Matthew Saad Muhammad's or Alexis Arguello's, but no other fighter came close to shaking him physically and psychologically the way Andre Ward did this past Saturday night.
Think about what it says about one elite fighter who beats another elite fighter into submission before he stops him. Dawson was hurt and embarrassed enough by Ward that he knew there was no way he could pull the fight out. So in essence he said to Ward, I know I can't beat you and you don't have to knock me out to prove it so I'm done.
I don't like the way Dawson went out. I know he couldn't have won, and I know that he was getting banged up in there, but I think of what Nacho Beristain told Juan Manual Marquez (who was also getting beaten up) before the last round of his fight with Floyd Mayweather: "Finish with dignity." I hope those reading this understand that no real fighter is a bum. Dawson is a hell of a fighter. But I would have preferred to see him try to make it to the bell. That said, Andre Ward is a beast and a very frustrating guy to fight.
So instead of calling Dawson a bum or gutless coward, marvel at how good Ward was during the fight and that he was able to do something no fighter ever did to Chad before.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com