By Rick Reeno
Oracle Arena, Oakland, California - In a brilliant, career-defining performance, WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward (26-0, 14KOs) dropped Chad Dawson (31-2, 17KOs) three times to score a tenth round TKO victory. Dawson, the WBC champion at light heavyweight and considered one of the best boxers in the game, moved down in weight to challenge Ward.
It was a chess match in the first two rounds, as expected, with Dawson having the slight edge. Dawson suffered a cut above his right eye, from a clash of heads, somewhere in the second.
In the third, Ward caught Dawson as he came inside and scored a flash knockdown. Early in the fourth, Ward caught Dawson with a looping left hand that he never saw coming and it put him down for a second time. Dawson beat the count, but this time he was seriously hurt and came close to being stopped as Ward poured on the punishment but couldn't put him away.
In the fifth, Ward went back to boxing, but Dawson was starting to regain his senses. Dawson did better work in the sixth, yet Ward controlled the action and picked his spots. By the eigth round, Dawson was back to taking more punishment and he appeared to be physically spent, as Ward was ripping him with punches on the inside.
Dawson continued to take damage in the ninth and had no answers in the tenth. Ward was unloading with hard accurate punches to the head and working Dawson over on the inside. During the tenth round action Dawson went down from a series of hard shots - and this time referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and stopped the fight as the arena went wild.