Chad Dawson and Andre Ward: The Saviours of Combat Sports
Hardcore fight fans are suffering through what just might be the dark days of combat sports. It's an era in which the best do not fight the best. The golden years of The Fabulous Four (Duran, Hagler, Hearns and Leonard) and Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Ken Norton et al. are long passed. Today's generation of fighters believe more in protecting their records and taking safe fights than pursuing glory. Enter Chad Dawson.
The 31-1 WBC Light Heavyweight champion is making the biggest blockbuster bout possible within the boundaries of his weight. He is dropping down to 168 to face the hottest pugilist in the game right now: Andre Ward. Ward, having just won the Super Six, indisputably placed himself as the king of the Super Middleweights.
Admittedly, "Bad Chad" has not stopped anyone in his last eight fights; however, to his credit, he has been facing elite competition: Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Adrian Diaconu.
He called out Ward after defeating the iconic Bernard Hopkins in April. However, issuing challenges is seemingly the easy part and rarely leads to an actual fight inside the ring. Amazingly, Dawson actually made the fight against the most dominant division champion—outside of the Klitschkos—a reality. Dawson not only agreed to meet Ward at 168, but also in his backyard.
Ward is not one to wantonly challenge. He is the 2004 Olympic champion and sports an unblemished pro record of 25-0. He not only won the Super Six tournament, but did so with great ease, dominating almost every round.
While his boxing talent is undeniable, there is a lack of aggression that hinders his mainstream marketability. He carries 13 knockouts—none of which came from the Super Six tournament. He wins with precision striking, elusiveness and speed.
The 168-pound champ deserves credit for accepting this challenge as this is the best fight available above 154 pounds for boxing fans. He takes a risk too as he faces a larger, longer and more powerful opponent. Ward is listed as 6' with a 71-inch reach versus 6'1" Dawson who carries a 76.5-inch reach—a marked difference.
The size issue always creates a compelling narrative. That helps promote this contest. However, the skill of the two men alone make it worth watching. These are two of the best fighters in the world. This is not Roy Jones moving up to face John Ruiz. These are two legitimate champions—each of whom make a strong case to be better on paper. Thankfully, their talents will decide.
Anderson Silva is 38 next April, and while he is credited by many to be the greatest fighter of all time, he never contested a champion from another weight class. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have become the standard-bearers for the death of boxing.
While Jon Jones is redefining a champion from one who will fight "anyone, anywhere, anytime" to mean "not him, not then and not there", it is refreshing to see that there are still throwbacks who believe in the best fighting the best and cherish the spirit of daring to be great.
There are lots of great fights to be made in boxing. Yuriorkis Gamboa, Adrien Broner and Gary Russell Jr. are all-around the Super Featherweight class and could create epic encounters that would thrill all sports fans alike.
Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia could make history fighting one another at 140 pounds. Hypotheticals are easy to speculate upon in boxing (sadly are often the only options). The reality is that on Sept. 8., HBO is presenting Dawson vs. Ward at Oracle Arena in Ward's hometown of Oakland, Calif., for Ward's RING, WBA and WBC belts.
This is a very positive step in revitalising the greatest sport on earth and re-earning the trust of despondent fans.
Both Ward and Dawson deserve accolades for making this fight happen. The best Light Heavyweight facing the best Super Middleweight is what makes combat arts intriguing and worth staying invested in as a fan.
Frankly speaking, it probably won't match the action of a Leonard Hearns fight, but it will showcase the technical beauty of the sweet science. The bout deserves to be complimented for what it accomplished outside the ring more than the action it promises inside the ring. Congrats to both men and here's to hoping this becomes the trend and not something newsworthy.
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