Chad Dawson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, will be moving down in weight to take on what just may be the toughest opponent he’s ever faced in super middleweight king Andre Ward, the WBA and WBC champion. The bout will take place on September 8 and will broadcast on HBO.
That’s saying a lot considering Dawson has faced and beaten future Hall of Fame fighter Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is not the only big name on Dawson’s resume, as he also has defeated former world champions Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and Tomasz Ademak.
Andre Ward has the distinction of being the last American fighter to win an Olympic gold medal, and as a pro, he has a record of 25 wins and no losses.
“As I recall I don’t think Andre has lost since he was 12 or 13 years old at the Jr. Olympics,” said Dawson’s trainer John Scully in an Aug. 20 conversation with B/R.
If Scully’s memory is correct, that means it’s been 15 or 16 years since Ward has tasted defeat. Scully knows that beating Ward will be no easy task, but he thinks Dawson is up to the challenge.
“I think Chad sees this fight as a prove yourself type of fight,” Scully said. “This is the opponent that people are going to want to see him excel against.”
The fight will take place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland at the Oracle Arena. Dawson’s trainer does not see that as a problem, though.
“I think that will actually work in Chad’s favor,” Scully said. “I think that the crowd going against him is going to push him up higher than he’s ever been before. This is a showcase fight where he will really want to prove himself.”
Scully doesn’t think that just the crowd will be in Ward’s favor, he also expressed concerns that HBO’s announcer team will be backing the Oakland fighter.
“He just won the Showtime tournament and now he came over to HBO, and I am sure he didn’t just go for free,” the skeptical Scully said. “I am sure some negotiations went on and HBO has a lot invested in him, I would have to assume; the fact of the matter is, and people might not like me saying it, but if HBO in their heart of hearts has a favorite it’s not Chad Dawson, so we have that going against us.”
Scully thinks that the opinions expressed by the broadcasters and the crowd noise can have an effect on the viewing public and may sway them one way or another.
“This is the type of fight where maybe people should turn the sound off and just watch it for themselves with no commentary whatsoever and no crowd noise, “ Scully said. “ I certainly hope that the judges are able to do that and want to do that.”
Scully does feel that the fight being on HBO is a good thing and it could work to his fighter’s benefit.
“I am also glad that the fight is on HBO so if we do get robbed somehow that everybody sees it,” Scully said. “Looking at it from this angle, I would hope that at the end of the day they realize they have to be as fair as possible. Because if a guy like Chad Dawson goes there and outboxes this kid and he’s just too sharp and he’s just too fast and he doesn’t get the decision in a clear robbery, then good luck in getting the top fighters to go to Oakland.”
Dawson, who in the past has been very economical with his punches, will be a different fighter come Sept. 8, claimed his trainer.
“Chad knows what beating Andre Ward will do for his career,” Scully said. “I think he’s going to fight with a real sense of urgency.”
Media members and people on the boxing message boards think this fight could be a real snooze-fest, but Scully does not agree with that assessment.
“Contrary to what a lot of people’s knee-jerk reaction is: ‘Oh it’s going to be a boring fight, this and that,’ I don’t think so,” Scully said. “I think that Chad Dawson is coming with a lot of intensity just like he did with Hopkins. The difference is that Andre Ward isn’t a cagey guy like Hopkins is.”
Hopefully, for the sake of both fighters and boxing’s tarnished public image, the fight will be judged fairly and the best fighter wins. The results of the September 8 matchup could change the lives of both fighters, and a new superstar could emerge to eventually take the torch from Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Michael Walters is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
You can follow Michael Walters on Twitter @MWalters202