By Jake Donovan
Rare is the occasion when two current lineal champions step in the ring to face one another. It’s an even rarer occurrence when the lighter weight fighter’s title is the one at stake.
Such is the case on September 8 when light heavyweight kingpin Chad Dawson drops back down to super middleweight to take on unbeaten 168 lb. champ Andre Ward. Both fighters are universally regarded among the best fighters in the world – Dawson hovers somewhere in most Top 10 pound-for-pound lists, while Ward’s name can often be found high among the Top 5 section.
Despite their status among the boxing world and their stance as two of the superior technicians in the game today, the HBO-televised bout lacks an excitement factor.
Both fighters are well aware of this. Neither are the least bit apologetic for the way they fight, and hope that fans can appreciate the high level of skill that will be on display come fight night.
“You got two guys at the top of their game, two guys that are the best in their divisions,” states Dawson (31-1, 17KO), who fights at super middleweight for the first time in nearly 6½ years. “We’re out here really fighting for something. It’s going to be a great fight.”
Dawson was still a super middleweight when he was first appeared in front of the cameras, scoring an 11th round knockout of Ian Gardner in Nov. ’05 in their Showtime-televised bout in his hometown of New Haven, Conn. Talks immediately surfaced of the southpaw going after a 168 lb. champ in the near future, but Dawson instead made the decision to move up in weight just two fights later.
He enters the fight as the reigning lineal light heavyweight champ after his rematch win over Bernard Hopkins this past April. From Feb. ’07 onward, all but one fight has taken place at the light heavyweight championship level. Boxing politics have led to Dawson enjoying four separate reigns despite losing just once.
Ward (25-0, 13KO) has no clue what it feels like to lose. The super middleweight king was 13 years old the last time he saw an opponent’s hand raised in victory. A 15-year win streak between both pro and amateur includes his serving as the only active American fighter to have won an Olympic Gold medal, which he accomplished in the 2004 Athens Games.
The Gold medal win ranks right up there with his Super Six championship run, capped by his points win over Carl Froch last December to earn recognition as the best super middleweight in the world.
Most fighters would beg for such credentials, but Ward still finds himself defending his fighting style. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t seem to apply to fans who favor slugfests over the art of boxing.
Ward respects any fan’s viewpoint. Just don’t expect him t change his ways any time soon.
“My mindset is, I’m on a one-track mission which is to get my hand raised. There are those fans who I don’t want to say are ignorant but who like a certain type of fight. The guys make it in the sport, that can still walk and talk, guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins – those guys are masters.
“I’ve always been trained to be a master and that is how I will always train. I’m oblivious to what people are saying. The credentials are there, they speak for themselves.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox