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.