When super middleweight champion Andre Ward stepped into the ring at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. against light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, it was supposed to be one of the biggest mega-fights in recent memory.
Who is the better fighter?
Ten rounds into the fight, the referee mercifully stopped the bout and handed Ward the much-deserved victory via TKO. The rising star remained undefeated (26-0-0), but it was his ability to step up against some of the toughest competition in the world that impressed most experts and fans.
Via the knockout too, no less.
Ward told the USA Today about the state of boxing today and how important getting the knockout was against tougher competition:
In boxing right now everyone is knockout hungry... A knockout is a great way (to entertain) and that's the last piece of the puzzle in my game. This was the first step, tonight. With better competition I rise to the occasion. It might have looked easy but Chad Dawson is a monster.
Dawson was arguably Ward's trickiest opponent on paper, but the drop in weight classes obviously hurt the light heavyweight’s ability to maintain his speed and still produce the same power.
With the drop to 31-2-2 with 17 KOs over his career, Dawson must return to his normal weight class and not venture out again anytime soon.
After the fight, the light heavyweight champion spoke to the USA Today about preparing for the bout and what his plans are after the loss:
I did everything I had to do in camp to prep for this fight. He was a lot faster than I thought he would be. He's strong, too. I can't take anything away from him. He really is the best... It was hard to get my shots off. The weight was OK but I'm going to go back to 175 and decide what to do next. Andre Ward is a hell of a champion.
It is clear that both men have a mutual admiration for each other after this match, but this should be the last time either man takes the risk of moving weight classes or fighting stars that are moving weight classes.
As much as Ward now likes to see fighters drop weight because of how he beat Dawson, there are many fighters that should be fighting at a lower weight. If the super middleweight champion underestimates another boxer that drops weight classes, it could be the end of his undefeated streak.
Ward needs to stay in his weight class, and so does Dawson.
With a tough light heavyweight division that Dawson can battle through, the move down was great financially for all parties, but it was a train wreck for Dawson’s legacy and his status as one of the world’s best.
Dawson lost speed and power in the transition to the lower weight, and it showed the whole time Ward was peppering him with shots.
For every fan that calls for the super fights between men of different weight classes in boxing, UFC or another fighting sport, the fighter that has to make the most drastic jump in weight is always at the disadvantage.
Ward and Dawson are just another example of that. Now they must stick to their weight classes.