by Tim Harrison
On Saturday, September 8, the best light heavyweight in the world will drop seven pounds to challenge the best super middleweight in the world. “Bad” Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs), the current WBC light heavyweight champion and Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), the current WBA and WBC super middleweight champion square off at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California. HBO will broadcast the fights starting at 9:45 PM EST/ 6:45 PM PST, with WBC lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco defending his WBC lightweight belt against John Molina in the opening contest.
When you wade through the septic tank of hostility and rancor that has been vocally defecated by some of the more prominent members of the boxing media, Ward vs. Dawson is exactly what they, and boxing fans the same, have wasted countless productive hours on Twitter asking for; the best fighting the best. So why all the negative press?
Fights like Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito won’t be shit upon by the so-called big shots, who didn’t want to miss out on the chance to drink Grey Goose and tail-gate in the parking lot of Cowboys Stadium, celebrating like Pacquiao-Margarito was the second coming of Hagler-Duran. It wasn’t. It was Antonio Margarito, who was mysteriously given the WBC’s number 1 ranking in the 154-pound division after one fight against the unranked Roberto Garcia, with the intention of opening up a shot at a Pacquiao sanctioning fee. But as an aside, it was interesting to see Margarito’s bad hand-wrap karma come back around and smack him in the face so hard it broke his eye socket.
A simple, but lengthy explanation will explain why this fight has been met with such a cold reception. This fight is an easy target. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions aren’t without their detractors and critics, but they are often given a free pass where their smaller competition (the Dan Goossen/Gary Shaw/Lou DiBellas of the world) are tied to a horse and dragged unceremoniously through the muddy thoroughfare. Chad Dawson is promoted by Gary Shaw and Andre Ward is promoted by Dan Goossen, both light hitting promoters as it pertains to influence and access in boxing. The only promoter to arguably catch more shit than Goossen and Shaw would be Lou DiBella, but that’s a whole other subject in itself. For all intents and purposes, Gary Shaw and Dan Goossen, and by extension, Chad Dawson and Andre Ward are the ones being shit on by some of your favorite (or maybe most hated) boxing writers with a stupefying twitter addiction.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ll say that this fight does have the potential to be boring. Chad Dawson doesn’t often live up to his “Bad Chad” moniker. His laid back, almost careless demeanor in the ring leaves him content to fight safely from a distance where his legs and reach keep him out of the scrum often filled with the less athletically gifted gloved brethren. Andre Ward, for his good-guy image and spotless professional record, is probably just as universally despised as “Bad Chad”. His style consists of one or two solid punches and clinching on the inside, where he uses his strength to bully his opponents into the ropes while he frees his arms to land the occasional shot downstairs before the referee intervenes. Ward’s style can be ugly, but like Bernard Hopkins, he’s effective and he finds a way to win.
Andre Ward doesn’t fight like a guy that possesses his athletic gifts. He’s big, strong, fast, and can fight in an orthodox stance or as a southpaw. He uses good head movement and angles, and his hands are fast enough that he should be able to increase his punch output. He chooses to land his shots and rough his opponent up on the inside. Chad Dawson, on the other hand, is a guy who uses his foot speed and reach, jabbing and moving. He’s uncomfortable on the inside, and when he’s pressed he’ll hop on his bike and ride. I can see the potential for a stinker here.
But this is what you’ve all asked for, isn’t it? You wanted it? You got it, Toyota. A constant gripe from boxing fans and media, alike, is the lack of true championship fights, or what some like to call “the best fighting the best”. Saturday’s super middleweight title fight between WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward and WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson is just that; The best 175-pounder in the world dropping 7 precious pounds to challenge the best 168-pounder in the world. Two of the best fighters only one division apart are getting together at a division limit with multiple, legitimately-earned world championships on the line (only Ward’s titles will be up for grabs).
Should Andre Ward win he’ll remain the best 168-pounder in the world, and he’ll look ahead to lucrative rematches with Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, or a move up to the light heavyweight division. Should Chad Dawson win he’ll be the guy who beat the guy at 168-pounds, while simultaneously being the guy who beat the guy at light heavyweight. He isn’t moving down (or up) and picking off the weakest of the belt-holding herd, he called out the best and the best accepted his challenge. This is what you always ask for, boxing fans, so stop bitching when you get it.
You can email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter, where he won’t clog up your feed with his self-aggrandizing agenda, references to his blossoming career as an erotic poet, or a bunch of college football fan-boy nonsense, at www.twitter.com/TheTimHarrison.