Easy Living: Andre Ward TKO10 Chad Dawson

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Enthusiasm, as defined by Voltaire in his “Philosophical Dictionary” is a “disturbance of the entrails, internal agitation.” Working with this definition, it is reasonable to say that the super middleweight fight between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson indeed generated a great deal of enthusiasm. The fight, staged at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, pitted arguably the two best fighters in the world between 168 and 175 pounds against each other. For some, enthusiasm came in the form of anticipation of this “Best versus Best” affair—a seemingly mythical occurrence in boxing, a pugilistic Sasquatch sighting. Others found themselves plunked at the other end of the spectrum, their entrails disturbed by the potential for viewing drudgery. What transpired over the course of the fight, a 10th-round TKO victory for Ward, was something resembling the mean.

The fight began auspiciously for Dawson, now 31-2 (17): he was able to take center ring—crucial geography against the mugging Ward—and fire lead left hands from his southpaw stance. Aesthetically too, there was cause for optimism, as the fight was being fought at a distance, with Ward unable to handcuff and molest his opponent, and Dawson exhibiting, for him, rare punching productivity.

In the third round, Ward, 26-0 (14KO), began establishing his jab, a lynchpin for the rest of his arsenal, and the harbinger of Dawson’s undoing. Ward committed to his jab by stepping with it, and he also used it to set up the left hook. That left hook would catch Dawson clean on the point of his chin in the third round, sending the New Haven fighter to his knee. Dawson rose on wobbly pins, and to his credit, he fired back with a rare flash of indignation; but the contest was ostensibly over. Ward, 26-0 (14), had solved Dawson rather easily, and Dawson never regained any semblance of his pre-knockdown snarl.

Dawson was reacquainted with the canvas in the fourth round, sent there by a crisp Ward left hook. Dawson beat the count, fanning the now smoldering embers of his resolve. The New Haven fighter again tried to get back in the fight, but with less fervor and less effect. A nice counter uppercut from Dawson elicited only a malevolent grin from Ward, who, having assayed the venom in Dawson’s fists, knew he could set about his opponent immune to his toxin.

Ward sprinkled in punishing body shots in the sixth round, finding his physically depleted and technically outgunned foe easy to tag. Rather than clinch in close, Ward turned his torso to establish space and ripped off vicious punches, sparing the audience while showing Dawson no quarter. It would be disingenuous to say that the fight was exciting thus far, but it was a lack of competition, not an excess of holding and dirty tactics, that hindered excitement. Ward was simply beating the stuffing out of Dawson, who was unable to adapt or adjust and wore a mask of helpless resignation. While viewers were encouraged to recall Dawson’s late surge against Jean Pascal—which saw him hurt Pascal badly before being retired by a cut—such conjecture was pointless. Pascal has nothing on Ward.

The protracted assault ended in the tenth round, a round that saw Jim Lampley employ his best linguistic legerdemain in trying to make a thrashing exciting. A sequence of well-placed left hooks and right hands buckled Dawson and then downed him for a third time. Dawson made it to his feet but told referee Steve Smoger, “I’m done,” at which point Smoger waved the contest off at 2:45 of the tenth round.

One wonders whether there isn’t a touch of the metaphysical in Dawson’s utterance, if a fighter who has never seemed fully comfortable in his vocation hasn’t been irreparably discouraged. Conversely, Ward, Oakland, California, and his supporters had to be encouraged by his performance. There are asterisks certainly (the effects of Dawson’s coming down a division being one), but Ward again proved what has been apparent for some time: it will take a special fighter to hang a defeat on him.

Given the headbutts and holding inherent in Ward’s approach, and the frustrating languor typifying much of Dawson’s career, Dr. Pangloss might offer a smug smile at those decrying the fight as an inevitable mess. It is perhaps the “best of all possible worlds” when Ward-Dawson is surprisingly violent, when enthusiasm, a disturbance of entrails, an internal agitation, is preserved.

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Topics: Andre Ward, CHAD DAWSON, Super Middleweights

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  • TheJPF

    Ward is damn good, he’s not always fun to watch, but I did have some fun watching him put paid to Dawson. I’m not at all surprised that Ward won, but I didn’t expect him to actually stop Dawson. Perhaps that’s not so surprising though, as Dawson isn’t exactly hardnosed. That was a big league performance by Ward, but not a great fight by any stretch; it takes two to make those, and this wasn’t competitive at all. Dawson just doesn’t seem to have a fighter’s mentality. But, full credit to Ward for waterboarding Dawson; the same Dawson who willed Pascal to victory though, as you say, not some P-4-P figment. Ward is going to be very tough to beat for a long time, too much skill and elite spoiler tactics when needed. A bad combo for the opposition, and fight fans most times; just not the purists! You know, the type that don’t believe that cheese belongs on a hamburger and all that. For me, this fight definitely exceeded expectations and at the end of the day I’m just glad I got to see Matthysse.

    The aftermath and the backlash BACKLASH was more entertaining than the fight. People clinging to any shard of action to endow the fight with the significance it was supposed to have, and to validate the hype and their own bullshit. I love that stuff.

    Anyway, great read JT. And! Throw your hands in the air if you like to read Voltaire, et cetera. Now, if we could only get Dirrell waterboarded, I’d join the fan club.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hey JPF, I agree – Ward is damn good. He isn’t usually that fun to
      watch, but I’d rather watch this version of him than Dawson any day, and
      I love that he ramped it up and got Dawson out of there. He gave me
      something to write about!! Ward was more
      impressive than the fight was entertaining. He was throwing hard, sharp,
      punches, and I expect more of that from him in the future. He seized
      the moment, and that’s to be commended. Ward gets it. I occasionally put
      peanut butter on my burger, so I’m not much of a purist.

      I didn’t get around to watching Mattysse until late last night, but I
      loved what I saw. The Soto performance was nice, but Soto had major
      questions about his ability at 140. That Ajose dude was a brick
      shithouse who deserves another shot on TV. I don’t know any other 140lb
      fighter who could’ve stopped that guy. Mattysse is must watch.

      I would love to watch Ward grind resignation into Dirrell’s clueless
      mug. And this Calzaghe comeback shit I’ve heard would be great too.
      Slappy Joe would get slapped stupid by Ward, who’s younger, stronger,
      faster, and a formidable in-ring thinker in his own right.

      • Dennis Wise

        My mistake. Great article Tobin

        • Jimmy Tobin

          Thanks Cutty, I mean, Dennis Wise…

    • thenonpareil

      JPF: I didn’t read a single word about this fight–other than JT’s–so I can only imagine what’s going on in cyber-world. What I saw on my Twitter timeline was enough for me….Take a fight that looks horrible on paper and have it be mediocre in reality, and the whole boxing world drops a deuce simultaneously!

  • Dennis Wise

    Carlos, glad to be reading a fight recap from you again. Man, boxing was invisible this summer.

    I grant you, my expectations are quite low in regards to boxing, but this fight was a surprise all around. I still can’t believe it was made. I can’t believe either fighter took the risk, especially Dawson. They didn’t have to fight each other, and that makes this fight an amazing occurrence. Nice of Ward to actually go for the exciting finish.

    Pascal is not anyone near the fighter Ward is, but I still think he hits a lot harder than Ward. Does this KO add credence to the rumor that Miranda knocked Dawson cold in sparring?

    • thenonpareil

      Hi Dennis,

      that’s my man Jimmy Tobin’s work here…I guess the byline is a little too small on the site…

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Not sure about the Miranda KO in sparring. Miranda is pretty pedestrian, his power has diminished as he’s moved up in weight,
      and with head gear and bigger gloves you’d think a guy as reluctant to
      engage as Chad would avoid those surprises. Of course, Dawson was
      walking around on al dente cannelloni all fight so it’s possible that he
      was undone by the weight even before Saturday (which is what Scully
      said in the aftermath of the fight.)
      Yeah, this was a strange scrap. And a baffling one on Dawson’s part especially.
      I agree, nice to see Ward step on the gas. Makes me wonder what would’ve happened if he didn’t break his hand against Froch (who he was tagging clean with his left hand). Had he stopped Froch and then Dawson, what would people be saying about him now?

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,

    nice recap. Pretty dull fight, but you can’t say that without drawing a deluge of tears from cyberspace. Ward is an indecipherable puzzle for his opponents, and for Dawson, he was like the Voynich Manuscript. Dawson was clueless and showed little of the “skill” that his fantasy P-4-P ranking over the years suggests he has. If p-4-p fighters are so far apart in talent–as Ward is re: Dawson–what’s the point of having these retarded lists? Since winning his light heavyweight title, Dawson fought nothing but set-ups and fighters 12-16 years older than him. The only two fighters not to fall under that category (Pascal, younger; Ward; not a set-up) beat him. Don’t tell me Diaconu can fight, please! But that’s not important.

    I’m not a compubox guy, but if there is anything even remotely close to the numbers Dawson posted–it’s an embarrassment and astonishing. That one of the supposedly top best fighters in the world threw roughly 18 punches a round and landed roughly 3 is insane. In a fight that some of the ORACULAR are calling exciting, great, etc. Man, these p-4-p guys are something else, really….Not only has Dawson never been an underdog in his career (until last night), but he has never come back from a points deficit to win. In short, his is a smoke and mirror career, aided by the guys who have all the answers. Maybe he can find some 45-year old to beat for his comeback….

    Ward showed a little more intensity than he usually does, and is three times as smart as most fighters. He probably can’t be beat at 168 and, unlike Dawson, is a real prizefighter. The fact that Ward floored Dawson three times probably raises questions about this matchup, since Ward could not even stop Allan Green. As you say, there are asterisks in this bout, but Ward dominated and, I suspect, he would whip Dawson at any weight. Dawson isn’t used to fast hands and fast feet. Because some people are so arrogant, they think their fantasies ought to be taken for reality, so we’ll continue to hear about how great this fight was, etc. And JPF will lead the charge!

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi CA,
      Dawson looked awful. He’s never particularly entertaining, and I don’t want to take away from Ward’s performance, but I gotta think the weight cut hurt Dawson significantly. He had no legs, evidenced by a lack of pop on his shots even before getting hurt. Even Dawson at his best loses to Ward though.
      I must admit I felt a bit bad for Dawson, who looked completely out of sorts against a guy in there to roll him. What that says about Dawson is one thing; what is says about boxing, being a champion, being a star, is perhaps even more damning.
      Not sure about those Compubox numbers – I thought I saw more punches land for Dawson. Of course, landing cleanly on Ward is frigging hard so who knows? Regardless, the numbers reflect how dominant Ward was. This wasn’t an exciting fight; that it ended in a knockout is not proof to the contrary. I think that grasping on to this notion of excitement betrays the expectations everyone had of this fight. It was better than expected, because nobody could seriously expect it to be good.

  • Lee Payton

    I think the offensive clinch is a beautiful lost art. Back in the day there were plenty of fighters who would have been happy to engage Ward in there. You had to be able to handle yourself. Ward clinches just enough to stay off the the nerves of the referee while using the tactic to his advantage on both sides of the spectrum. It chops the rounds up into sequences that he is in control of. Very Hopkins-esque. Not afraid to hush the crowd in order to shut the other fella down completely.

    There are simple ways of dealing with the clinch that are far more effective than looking at the referee, or throwing your hands in the air. Opponents should check those out. Do they still teach that stuff?

    Jockeying for wrist and head position inside, turning the opponent, creating space, flipping things and making him hold you so you can use the other hand to smash him around… these techniques are precious to me. :) Not illegal, either.

    I appreciate the fact that he is bringing back old school. His fights could be in black and white.

    As you said, he’s smarter than pretty much everyone else in the game. Taking advantage of a dimension of fighting forgotten everywhere but certain parts of Mexico proves his intelligence and dedication to preparation.

    Yer the best!

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Lee,

      While Ward has been derided for being dirty, or “negative” I didn’t see
      those elements of his style play out in this one. If anything, he used
      the offensive clinch you speak of well, especially as a way of chopping
      the rounds up into controllable sequences. And while the knee-jerk
      reaction is to equate clinching with dampening the action, Ward beat
      Dawson up in the clinches. It was actually pretty impressive to see him
      use the clinch as a means of delivering solid, hurtful blows. Dawson was
      at a complete loss in close, and good on Ward for not simply
      controlling the action at that range, but exploiting it. How many
      uppercuts did he land when Dawson allowed him to to work inside? Too
      many for Chad, ultimately.

      Doesn’t look like that stuff is embedded in the curriculum
      anymore–which is probably why Ward tools guys with it! I appreciate the
      anachronistic element too, just so long as Ward is hurtful when
      employing it, and doesn’t take recourse to it unnecessarily.