Closing the Year with Boxing’s Best

by Kieran Mulvaney

What to do when HBO’s live boxing broadcasts have wrapped for the year? Revisit the very best bouts from an action-packed 2012, of course. The last 12 months have provided some jaw-dropping action, and for five days, beginning December 25, HBO will be showcasing seven of the year’s best examples of boxing brilliance. All times are ET/PT.


Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
Tuesday, December 25 at 11 PM


In May, Puerto Rican superstar Cotto put his junior middleweight belt on the line against pound-for-pound king Mayweather. In one of the finest performances of his likely Hall-of-Fame career, Cotto pushed Money May to the edge, forcing Mayweather to dig deeper than he has had to in at least 10 years.

 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
Wednesday, December 26 at 11 PM

 

Martinez was regarded as the true middleweight champion. But Chavez had the belt he coveted, and Martinez agitated for over a year for an opportunity to take it from him. When the chance came, the Argentine appeared well on his way to doing what he had sought to do, until a dramatic finale that was one of the most explosive rounds of the year.

 

Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto
Thursday, December 27 at 11 PM

 

Three years ago, Guerrero was campaigning as a junior lightweight, having begun his professional career as a featherweight. One month ago, he appeared on HBO World Championship Boxing in just his second bout as a welterweight, taking on a hard-hitting former 147-pound-title-holder whose own professional debut had been at 162 pounds – almost 37 pounds heavier than Guerrero’s. But Guerrero was the aggressor, dragging Berto into an old-fashioned down-and-dirty street fight that was one of the roughest, toughest and best of 2012.

 

Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner
Friday, December 28 at 11 PM

 

Flashy Adrien “The Problem” Broner inspires a gamut of emotions – and it’s safe to say that few if any of them are ‘indifference.’ Love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect him; increasingly tipped as the sport’s next big star, Broner went a long way to establishing his bona fides with a devastating and dominant performance against Mexican DeMarco.

 

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson
Friday, December 28 at 11:45 PM

 

Light-heavyweight titlist Dawson took the unusual step of dropping down in weight to take on super middleweight kingpin Ward. He may still be regretting it, after Ward – in many pundits’ eyes, second only to Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list – opened his full bag of tricks and cemented his place among boxing’s elite.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado
Saturday, December 29 at 11 PM

 

The moment this junior welterweight clash was signed, boxing fans everywhere had the date circled on their calendars. Both Rios and Alvarado entered the contest unbeaten and with reputations for possessing that rare combination of immovable object and irresistible force. There seemed no way this could fail to be a serious Fight of the Year candidate, and so it proved. Each man dished out and received hellacious punishment, and the contest swayed back and forth, with first one man and the other seizing advantage and momentum, until an ending that seemed to come almost out of the blue.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:40 PM

 

Pacquiao and Marquez had pursued each other like Ahab and the whale, across eight years and 36 rounds, before meeting for a fourth time on December 8. Each man insisted beforehand that this would be their final battle, but after six rounds that exceeded even the dizzying heights of their previous encounters, and a conclusive, concussive ending that was among the most shocking and emphatic in years, who would bet against a fifth?

 

Prepare for the Andre Ward Era

by Hamilton Nolan
Andre Ward - Photo Credit:Will Hart

In front of a chaotic hometown crowd in Oakland, California, Andre Ward (26-0) made a rather irrefutable case for himself as boxing's most unbeatable fighter with a domineering tenth round TKO of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-2).

Dawson, who had dropped down to 168 pounds to meet Ward for the super middleweight belt, was a larger fighter who clearly possessed more raw strength. But after a two round feeling-out process, Ward brutally and methodically asserted his volition. He knocked Dawson to his knee for the first time in the third round with a fast, efficient left hook to the temple, and again in the fourth round with the same punch. From that point on, Ward controlled the pacing of the fight and drove the bigger man backwards at will. In the tenth round, Ward again landed his left hook to Dawson’s temple, causing his legs to wobble like a flapper dancer at a Prohibition-era gin joint. Ward rushed in and knocked Dawson down again; he rose, but his legs, swaying drunkenly side to side, told the story of just how much punishment he had taken. The referee called it, and Oracle Arena exploded with cheers of “S.O.G!”

Dawson, a southpaw, possesses all of the physical tools one could hope for in a fighter, but has always suffered from a lack of assertiveness. It killed him tonight. Here is how Andre Ward won: he kept his lead left hand above Chad Dawson’s lead right hand. And Dawson, who prefers to carry his lead hand low, let him. This allowed Ward to turn his left hook into Dawson’s temple with ease. Ward won the fight using only two punches: the left hook, which eventually knocked Dawson senseless, and a straight right to the belly, which he planted whenever Dawson decided to pull his elbows out of his gut and try to protect his skull. Ward neutralized Dawson’s killer straight left with his feet, simply by circling to the outside. He took away Dawson’s right hook by keeping his hand above it and batting it down whenever Dawson deigned to unleash it, which was rarely. That left Dawson with nothing except Ward’s left fist on his mind. 


Compubox Analysis: Ward vs. Dawson

For most fighters, a career-defining victory is usually followed by the easiest opponent that can still justify a pay-per-view payday. Such is the business of boxing today.

But not so with Andre Ward and Chad Dawson. Ten months after Ward captured the Super Six tournament title and five months after Dawson decisioned Bernard Hopkins to win the WBC light heavyweight belt, they are fighting each other -- without tune-ups. Moreover, Dawson, a 3 ½-1 ‘dog,  is shedding seven pounds for the opportunity to topple an almost universal pound-for-pound entrant in the hopes of adding his own name to those lists.

High risk. High reward. Old-school prize-fighting. This is the way boxing should be.

 

See more Compubox analysis of Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson on HBO.com

Roy Jones Previews Ward-Dawson

by Kieran Mulvaney

This Saturday, HBO World Championship Boxing features a genuinely marquee matchup when super middleweight champion Andre Ward defends his crown against light heavyweight top dog Chad Dawson in a rare meeting of titlists from the 168 and 175-pound divisions.

One man who has sat on the throne of both weight classes is future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Roy Jones, who is unabashedly enthusiastic about the contest. We asked him a few questions about Saturday night's main event.

What are your thoughts about how Ward and Dawson match up?

I think it’s a wonderful matchup. They’re two great fighters. My hat’s off to Ward for accepting the challenge and to Chad for making the challenge. Chad’s going down in weight to make the fight and then going to Oakland, Ward’s hometown, to fight him. That says a lot about Chad.

Strategically, it’s a great matchup. You’ve got a guy in Chad Dawson, who’s a superstar in the light heavyweight division. You’ve got a guy in Andre Ward who has definitely become the best in the super-middleweight division. You’ve got two guys who are close to one another who are willing to fight each other, and you don’t get that too often.

 

Is it a disadvantage to Dawson that he is moving down from light-heavyweight to super middleweight?

I think if he’s moving down, he already knows that he can make the weight. He challenged, so he’s got to be a guy who’s comfortable coming down in weight. I think he feels very comfortable that he can come down to 168 and be strong.

 

What does each man have to do to win?

Chad has to keep the fight on the outside and keep attacking Andre to try to bang Andre up. He needs to keep Andre on his back foot so that Andre won’t be able to reach him. I think Andre has to make angles to come at Chad, and he has to keep Chad on his heels, because Chad is used to coming forward and not be backing up.

Watch 24/7: Chavez Jr./Martinez Ep. 1

Ward and Dawson Set Aside Their Empires to Battle Each Other

by Eric Raskin

Andre Ward, Chad Dawson“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Whether you attribute this quote to ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch or to more modern philosopher Hans Gruber of ‘Die Hard’ fame, it’s a quote that could have been applied a few months ago to either Chad Dawson or Andre Ward. Dawson had scaled the light heavyweight mountaintop, claiming the lineal 175-pound title by becoming the first fighter in nearly two decades to convincingly defeat Bernard Hopkins. Ward had effectively cleaned out the super middleweight division by dominating the “Super Six” tournament, the chasm between he and the rest of the 168-pound class growing wider with each victory.

Sure, there are always new challengers. But are there are always true challenges? For Dawson at light heavy and for Ward at super middle, it seemed the answer was no. Their respective worlds had been conquered.

Thankfully for fans of competitive, elite-level prize fighting, both Ward and Dawson stopped weeping long enough to realize that, beyond their immediate worlds, there was still one thing out there that needed conquering: each other.

Though the fight will be contested at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds, it is essentially for supremacy over two weight classes. Maybe such affairs were common in the days of Henry Armstrong, but nowadays, a matchup like this one is a rarity. These are both pound-for-pound-level guys (ESPN.com ranks Ward fifth, Dawson 11th; Sports Illustrated positions them sixth and 12th, respectively; BoxRec.com has them seventh and eighth). And as we’ve learned rather painfully over the last few years, pound-for-pound guys who should be fighting each other don’t always end up fighting each other. Dawson and Ward deserve credit for actively seeking out this challenge.

Read More at HBO.com

Chad Dawson's Perfect Prep For Ward

by Eric Raskin

Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will Hart

How do you get yourself ready for a fight against a versatile, smart, confident, physically strong, offense-negating chore of an opponent like Andre Ward? If you’re Chad Dawson, you spend 14 rounds dealing with a similar fistful of problems named Bernard Hopkins.

Obviously, that wasn’t Dawson’s intent at the time; he was fighting B-Hop to make money, add a legend’s name to his resume and claim the old man’s lineal light-heavyweight championship. But it turned out that the experience doubled as perfect prep for his upcoming fight against Ward.

“I figured after I beat Bernard, if I could make it through that, I could make it through anything,” Dawson told HBO.com. “With his dirty tactics and holding and hitting and headbutts, I feel like I’ve been through it all being in the ring with that guy. There are some shades of that with Andre Ward.”

Just like Hopkins, Ward may be right-handed, but that doesn’t make him orthodox. “S.O.G” and the old S.O.B. are both frustratingly awkward fighters to face. Despite the similarities in Dawson’s opponents, though, he faces several threats in Ward that he didn’t have to worry about with Hopkins:

1. Ward can keep a faster pace: Throughout his 40s, for all of his in-ring brilliance, Hopkins has needed to force a slow pace in order to thrive. He simply couldn’t throw 100 punches per round like some younger fighters can. Ward also likes to control the pace and keep it somewhat deliberate, but he has the youthful energy to set a busier tempo against Dawson if need be.

2. Dawson won’t have a hand-speed edge: Dawson is taller and longer, but that doesn’t mean his jab will always get there first. Ward isn’t a prime Roy Jones in the hand speed department, but his fists are indeed quick--at least as quick as Dawson’s.

3. It won’t be easy to convince the Oakland judges: Though the so-called “house fighter” doesn’t always end up favored by the official scorers (see Tim Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao), most of the time, there’s an uphill battle involved in winning a decision in the other guy’s hometown. Dawson says he’s not looking for the knockout because that’s how you end up getting knocked out yourself. But in boxing, whether you’re in the other guy’s hometown or not, a knockout is the only way to be sure.