Photos by Sumio Yamada
ANDRE WARD TKO10 CHAD DAWSON
Stopping Chad Dawson in the 10th round might not have made Andre Ward an instant PPV attraction but it was a tremendous performance and confirmed that Ward is a special type of fighter, the kind that doesn’t come along very often.
Ward looked the part of the complete professional. We knew that he could box and fight. In Saturday’s win, he showed that he has it in him to close the show at top level when an opponent is ready to go. After a series of wins by decision, Ward was relentless in the way he kept the pressure on Dawson and broke his man down.
I had my doubts about the wisdom of Dawson coming down in weight from light-heavy to meet Ward at the super middle limit of 168 pounds, and my suggested play for subscribers was “fight won’t go distance” at odds of +300 and higher. Still, I didn’t expect quite such a dominant display by Ward.
Ward showed what I have always believed, that a skilled boxer in the orthodox position can have great success with the left jab and left hook against a southpaw. The wonderful Welsh stylist Howard Winstone gave Mexico’s great Vicente Saldivar serious problems with his deft deployment of the left jab. British heavyweight folk hero Henry Cooper blasted out southpaws Jack Bodell and Piero Tomasoni with the left hook. More recently, Nonito Donaire’s left hook shattered left-handed bomber Vic Darchinyan.
Ward’s left jab was a thudding weapon and the left hook landed forcibly time and again, bringing two knockdowns in the first four rounds and leading to the fight-ending knockdown in the 10th. Although a series of punches finished off by a straight right hand through the middle had Dawson taking a knee, it was Ward’s left hook that started Bad Chad’s collapse in the 10th. When Ward’s hook had Dawson’s legs doing a little involuntary dance it was the signal that the end was near and Ward knew it.
With the fight in the bag, Ward could have stayed back and jabbed his way to a comfortable win on the cards but he clearly wanted to put on a spectacular show for the hometown fans in Oakland and the worldwide TV viewing audience — as HBO’s Max Kellerman pointed out, Ward “dared to be great”.
Showtime had an entertaining main event, with Argentinean assassin Lucas Matthysse overwhelming a game Olusegun Ajose with one second remaining in the 10th round. Although outgunned, Ajose kept rallying to keep things interesting. The trouble was, the Nigerian southpaw didn’t have the firepower to discourage his stronger opponent in the 140-pound title bout. Getting hit on the break by a left hook in the 10th round — it looked entirely accidental — was probably a bit disorientating for Ajose but the fight had reached the stage where the only question was whether or not Ajose would make it to the final bell. Matthysse was landing some extremely hard punches up and down, again demonstrating how the left hook can be highly effective against a southpaw. Matthysse showed what ace matchmaker Bruce Trampler once pointed out to me: “When a boxer keeps right on top of a southpaw, he’s no longer a southpaw.” Methinks Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will be trying to keep right on top of Sergio Martinez so that the slick and unorthodox lefty will be “no longer a southpaw” in Saturday’s big fight in Las Vegas.