Ward vs Dawson: Strategies for SuccessWritten by Frank Zhong
Ward vs Dawson is one of the best fights that could have been made in the upper weight classes.
Time: 9:45 PM ET (2:24 AM U.K.)
Broadcast: HBO (U.S.)
Odds: Dawson +270, Ward -330
Ward vs Dawson will showcase two prime fighters and champions who are very motivated to win.
Stylistically, this is a compelling match-up between a well rounded fighter who prefers to work on the inside in Andre Ward, and a sleek polished southpaw who operates at his best when able to maintain his distance to slip and counter in Chad Dawson.
The outcome of this clash will be determined by which man has the firmer focus, can dictate the pace and real estate, and make the adjustments throughout the 12 rounds.
Undefeated in his professional career and a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist, Andre Ward is unbeaten since the mid 90s when he was still a young amateur. The man known as S.O.G. fights with determination, heart, and the uncanny ability to take advantage of each situation he has been put in.
For many boxing fans, Ward burst onto the scene at the Super Six Tournament, defeating favored Mikkel Kessler whom Ward made look stiff and flustered. He continued his dominance of the Super Six against Allan Green, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch in the finals bout after dispatching a game and tough Sakio Bika in the interim.
The biggest advantages he has displayed against his opponents to date:
- the ability to fight well on the inside
- effective use of the jab, and his
- dynamic speed.
Andre Ward's accomplishments and assets, along with the recent stoppage loss by Lucian Bute, has put Ward firmly in place as the undisputed king of 168 lbs.
Chad Dawson, despite his immense talent and smooth boxing abilities, has many more questions going into this fight than the champion.
First of all, he is cutting an extra 7 lbs from light heavyweight to super middleweight. Although he insists that the weight cut is not a problem, this question will certainly be asked of him if he gives a lackluster performance, win, lose or draw.
The other main question attached to Dawson is regarding his mental state. As boxing is an immensely mental game, Bad Chad has shown bad awareness in the ring, going through stretches low activity and a perceived lack of initiative.
This hurt him particularly in his lone loss to Jean Pascal, where the challenger defeated him by gathering a large enough lead on the scorecards before the bout was called due to an accidental head clash.
Pascal built his lead with superior foot movement and his sheer athletic ability as he was able to effectively leap in and throw flurries of punches to build points and keep Dawson off rhythym.
Dawson vs Diaconu
Against the much slower, much shorter, and more technically-limited Adrian Diaconu, Dawson showed very little aggression and certainly did not apply his skills to their maximum potential, allowing Diaconu to see the final bell.
In his latest bouts against Bernard Hopkins, Dawson showed a new vigor, focus, and even nastiness, dismissively waving his hand at the injured Hopkins in their first bout after The Executioner fell to the canvas in round 2 and cited a shoulder injury.
Dawson came back to outwork Hopkins in the rematch and maintain his composure against the frustrating 'cold water' style of B-Hop.
Andre Ward is no Bernard Hopkins. He is younger, faster, more aggressive, and more versatile. He communicates very well in between rounds with trainer Virgil Hunter, who raised S.O.G. as a boxer.
Dawson on the other hand, has been through several trainers in his professional career, among them Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
How will his current trainer John Scully click with him in the corner when Dawson inevitably finds himself in a phonebooth bout with the shorter man?
Will Dawson be able to use his jab and slipping to keep Ward maintaining engagement, or will the sharp accurate inside boxing of Ward fluster and discourage the light heavyweight champ?
Dawson never likes a fast pace and struggled with the forward pressure of Glen Johnson. He prefers to set up his opponents for straight lefts and counter left uppercuts, similar to Zab Judah.
In order to get inside to control the bout, Ward must utilize his straight right hand and left hooks effectively.
His piston left jab will still be an important asset but his feet will need to be set differently for it to work effectively against a slick lanky southpaw such as Dawson.
By setting his lead left foot outside of Dawson's lead right, Ward would have a much easier time landing effective straight rights down the middle.
With Ward's skills, durability, and speed, and the fact that Dawson will be cutting below his normal weight class, Andre Ward should be strongly favored to win a wide unanimous decision or possibly a late stoppage.
Frank Zhong has two years of collegiate boxing experience from UNC Chapel Hill, where he co-founded the National Collegiate Boxing Associatoin (NCBA) competing team for the Tar Heels. Ever since leaving official competition, he has continued to study and train in the sport. He enjoys reading biographies and history texts on boxing and breaking down techniques in film.
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