This is a pure boxing fan's fight. When Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) and Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) meet on September 8 in Oakland, Ca., diehard fans should collectively smile.
Even if you're not partial to either fighter, no one can dispute their skills and their desire to face the best competition.
Dawson is coming down from his perch as the champion at 175 pounds to take on Ward, the 168-pound king. The fight is for Ward's WBA and WBC Super Middleweight crown.
Why are they doing this?
Because both men want to be great and they embrace challenges.
Still, this fight has one issue. Neither fighter has the type of magnetic or over-the-top personality that captivates fans attention, and neither man is an explosive puncher.
Ward hasn't stopped an opponent since 2009, and Dawson hasn't stopped a foe since 2007.
Both guys are sharp verbal communicators. They carry themselves as if a boxing analyst job is a real possibility after their fighting days are done.
Yet some might describe them as boring, as Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix mentioned.
These two won't be grabbing the news for anything beyond their in-ring exploits, but if it's great boxing you're looking for, I don't think you'll be disappointed in this fight.
Here is the vital information you need in order to catch this Super Middleweight championship bout.
When: September 8, 9:45 EST
Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, Ca.
Live Stream: HBO GO (Pay Service)
The Book on Ward
Ward isn't a hard puncher, but he's brilliantly accurate. He throws punches from all angles, has excellent hand speed, and is a tremendous counter-puncher.
He comes forward constantly and has displayed the speed to beat reach advantages in past fights. Though he isn't a knockout fighter, he fights a crowd-pleasing style.
He beat a four-inch reach advantage against Carl Froch to win the Super-Six tournament in December. Ward's speed was the prevailing factor.
Take a look at some action from that fight:
Ward is very unpredictable in his attack. He has a solid chin, but his overall toughness shines through in his professional, but aggressive approach.
Ward has been in the ring with solid competition, but Dawson creates a difficult matchup because of his size, slickness and experience.
The Book on Dawson
Dawson is extremely long as a super middleweight. He stands 6'1" with a 76.5-inch reach. That represents a 5.5-inch reach advantage for Bad Chad.
No matter how fast you are, that is a significant advantage to overcome.
In addition to Dawson's length he has a solid jab, great footwork and good head and lateral movement. These traits make it very difficult to ever really catch Dawson flush.
In fact, having seen 10-plus Dawson fights, I can remember only a few instances where he was nailed with a power shot. Most notably was this shot from Eric Harding in 2009. It happens at the 8:00 mark of the video below.
Harding countered Dawson's jab with a hard power-jab and it dropped Chad. It doesn't appear Dawson really saw the shot coming.
He would rise to his feet and win a lopsided unanimous decision. It should also be mentioned he is a far better fighter now than he was then.
Still, Ward will need to employ similar counters to Dawson's jab to be effective. There is one caveat to that concept—Harding was a natural southpaw. Ward is orthodox, though he has shown the ability to switch his stance.
Ward may need to try to employ the southpaw stance to be effective against Dawson's reach.
Dawson has finally emerged from the no-win situation he faced in the two fights against Bernard Hopkins. Winning this fight would do more for his career than any other previous victory.
This is one of the toughest predictions I've had to make this year. I'm truly torn between Ward's hand speed and overall punching accuracy vs. Dawson's length and movement.
In the end, I believe Dawson will win a close, and possibly disputed decision (what's new).
The size advantage is a little too significant for me to ignore, and I see Ward struggling to close the distance.
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