Boxing has taken a lot of heat for the fights it's given us recently. This weekend, for once, that won't be the case.
Finally, when Andre Ward and Chad Dawson face off on Saturday night at Oracle Arena, boxing fans will get the chance to see something they actually want to see. Finally.
For once—and for what seems like the first time in a long, long time—the boxing-related dialogue will shift away from Pacquiao vs. Mayweather and the possibility of that ever happening. For once, there will be something else that is capable of drawing the attention away from the possibility of that fight.
Ward vs. Dawson many not be a megafight, but it's the closest thing we've come to after too many mediocre matchups. For better or worse.
With a combined record of 56-1, there is no way that this matchup can be anything less than scintillating. Ward will risk his undefeated record and his WBA and WBC super middleweight titles, and a completely unintimidated Dawson eagerly awaits the opportunity to challenge him.
This, unlike the never-gonna-happen bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao, is about two fighters who have risen to a challenge. And they're not scared of it. Ward isn't afraid of sacrificing his perfect record; Dawson, according to Newsday.com, dropped to super middleweight just to have the opportunity to fight Ward.
For months, the only boxing-related dialogue we've heard has centered around two guys who seem to be doing anything in their power to avoid facing each other. This is a refresher. This matchup is all about two guys fighting to prove their worth rather than maintaining their worth by default.
It's about two boxers who refuse to make excuses for themselves, who are ready and willing to take a big risk in exchange for a big reward. As Dawson told Newsday.com's Robert Cassidy:
A victory of Andre Ward would mean a lot for my career. We're talking about somebody who is rated very high on the pound-for-pound list, and somebody who has a lot of recognition. He won a gold medal in the Olympics. … I'm looking forward to the fight and going out there and I'll prove everybody wrong.
Even Dawson and Ward themselves know how much boxing needs this—a marquee matchup of two fighters in their prime, with stakes that actually matter. Dawson told USA Today's Bob Velin:
You got two young guys with a lot on the table and a lot to lose and a lot to gain, so I think this fight is going to eventually turn into two guys pushing and two guys that are determined. I definitely think the fight can turn into that type of fight, a fight people want to see.
Finally: A fight people want to see. It's not Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but thanks to Ward and Dawson, we finally are getting something worthwhile.