Ward vs. Dawson Predictions

By Boxing News on September 7, 2012
Ward vs. Dawson Predictions
This is for connoisseurs of fistiana who understand the true meaning of “the sweet science.”

Not everyone likes pugilistic chess matches. Many prefer pugilistic demolition derby. But both types of fights have their virtues, as well as their drawbacks…

“I don’t like fighting. Never did. But I’m free to admit I like boxing.”—Former heavyweight champion Gene Tunney

Saturday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, WBC/WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0) and WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-1) get it on in what be the pugilistic chess match of the year. Of course not everyone likes pugilistic chess matches. Many prefer pugilistic demolition derby. Both types of fights have their virtues, as well as their drawbacks. But for connoisseurs of fistiana who understand the true meaning of the phrase “the sweet science,” Ward vs. Dawson will bring us high-toned boxing where skill, no less than will, is guaranteed to be in play. This is how the Boxing.com writers see Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson.

Adam Berlin: “When talk turns to pound-for-pound bests, Andre Ward is always part of the discussion—and rightfully so. Ward is a super-skilled boxer with complete confidence and his ring IQ is perhaps the highest in the sport. When Ward takes on Chad Dawson, we won’t have a boxer/puncher classic, but a boxer/boxer chess match, and while guts are sometimes part of chess, brains reign supreme. Dawson has done enough to win all but one of his fights (a surprising loss to Jean Pascal), and his win against Bernard Hopkins is impressive, but Bad Chad is never busy enough, never hungry enough and never ‘bad’ enough to win spectacularly. I see Ward taking the fight to Dawson and pushing the action just enough to win an easy points victory. And while explosive power will be absent from this bout, aficionados won’t be disappointed as Andre Ward once again displays complete mastery of the sweet science.”

Cheekay Brandon: “While Chad Dawson is certainly less of a draw than Andre Ward, I still believe that he conceded a bit too much in the negotiations. Conceding both weight class and location against a world-class fighter like Ward—who relies on laissez faire refereeing and benefits from home energy—is a recipe for disaster. Dawson campaigned hard for this fight, however, and so maybe he knows something that we don’t. Maybe he knows that he’s as athletic and just as physically imposing as any of Ward’s prior opponents. Maybe Dawson knows that his punching power—not among his five best attributes—stings opponents harder at 168 lbs than at 175 lbs. Maybe Dawson learned, through Bernard Hopkins, how to care for twelve rounds, how to win the inside skirmishes, how to deal with a master of the dark arts. Though we were impressed by Dawson’s performance against Hopkins, it wasn’t enough to for him to shed the “unfocused” label. We still don’t trust him, which is why Andre Ward is favored to win their matchup on September 8. Dawson’s performance might be contingent on two unknowns: (1) How much did the move down to 168 lbs. affect him? (2) Will he be drained and sluggish? Or leaner and crisper? Also, will Andre Ward’s lean-forward style lead to headbutts and cuts? This is important because Chad Dawson is a notorious cutter and bleeder. I’m inclined to say that Dawson will be comfortable at 168 and will avoid being cut (the latter is mostly wishful/hopeful thinking). Look for the fighters to split the early rounds. Dawson will use his athleticism to give Ward problems in the middle rounds. I look for Ward to fight consistently but certainly not dominate Dawson. I see several characteristic lapses from Dawson, as he’ll give away several rounds. The fight will be refereed to Ward’s liking, allowing him to eat the distance and diminish Dawson’s length advantage via clenching, head butting and inside maneuvering. The judging will be strongly home-cooked, which will give Ward most of the close rounds. I expect Andre Ward to win a controversial split decision victory in a fight that will be far more entertaining than many predict.”

Teron Briggs: “Ward by unanimous decision. The fight is close early on as both boxers look to establish some kind of rhythm and enforce their will. Ward takes over down the stretch to win clearly on all scorecards in a technical scrap that is at times entertaining.”

Mike Casey: “I suspect I’m going against the grain by picking Chad Dawson to outpoint Andre Ward, and I wish I could be awfully clever and tell you why. I can’t recall the last time I deliberated so long and hard over a fight prediction and, at the end of it all, the best I can do is trust my gut instinct. Andre surprised me with his quality win over Carl Froch and will possibly surprise me again here. But Dawson should have gained some confidence and additional verve after finally seeing off Bernard Hopkins beyond dispute. Andre is very much the poster boy for this one, but I do hope the right man gets the decision however it turns out. These two guys will rip at each other like Hagler and Hearns. OK, erase that last sentence…”

Chris Gielty: “While few amongst the boxing intelligentsia nor general public seem particularly enthused about this matchup, two of the sport’s elite practitioners collide on Saturday night. Though unlikely to be the second coming of Hagler-Hearns, it’s an intriguing matchup. How will losing those extra seven pounds to make the super middleweight limit affect Dawson? And as par for the course with Andre Ward’s career thus far, the fight is taking place in Ward’s backyard at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Full marks to Dawson for having the self-belief to cede home court advantage to Ward, but going in Ward is in the catbird seat. The challenge Dawson faces is not insurmountable if he can control the action from long range. Ward is deceptive on the outside and punishing on the inside. Dawson’s movement and jab will be the keys to unlocking that door none of Ward’s previous opponents have been able to step through. Dawson has said when he watches Ward he doesn’t see anything special. It’s true. And it may be one of Ward’s greatest gifts. There doesn’t seem to be anything in particular that Ward does spectacularly well, other than mesmerize opponents into fighting his fight and winning boxing matches. Though I am tempted to pick Dawson based on a sneaky feeling Bad Chad is going to rise to the occasion, it’s hard to ignore the obvious. The playing field is tilted in Ward’s favor and the kid just doesn’t know how to lose (yet). Andre Ward by decision.”

Christian Giudice: “I look at Andre Ward and I see a brilliant fighter. In Chad Dawson, I see a guy who is strong and talented, but too often looks ordinary. He will not be able to reach or hurt a guy like Ward. Ward is too slick and moves too well to let Dawson beat him. I see Ward outpointing him easily to earn a unanimous decision. “

Michael Klimes: “Dawson is a solid but not sensational fighter. He is a gifted boxer but is predictable. I would compare him to Mikkel Kessler in this regard. Kessler is a very fine fighter: big, strong, tough, quick and does the basics exceedingly well but when he is presented with angles, clever counterpunching and movement he cannot adjust. I think Ward has too much in his arsenal for Dawson and will find a way to neutralize him. Dawson might have his moments but Ward is in his prime and looks to be getting more impressive with each fight.”

Norman Marcus: “Chad Dawson is the first fighter that has a chance to beat Ward, but I like Andre Ward straight up!”

Mutaurwa Mapondera: “This is kind of a toss-up fight because both guys bring many of the same tools to the table, and both are well-rounded, intelligent, skilled and athletic boxers. It’s kind of cliché to pick the undefeated fighter in this type of matchup, but I have to favor Ward simply because of the way Dawson lost to Jean Pascal. Watching Dawson flame out against an awkward fighter who he was bigger, stronger, faster and more talented than showed us all that Dawson might not be the toughest fighter mentally. If Ward has anything on his side, it’s an uncommon toughness to go with his steely will and fierce competitive drive. Also, as we saw in the Allan Green and Carl Froch fights, Ward is always in a position to attack his opponents, and is an expert at taking advantage of those fleeting moments in a fight where fighters allow themselves to let their guard down. I don’t think the fight will be particularly exciting and could end up being very controversial whoever wins, but I favor Ward in a 12-round unanimous decision.”

Gordon Marino: “Ward by decision.”

David Matthew: “I like Dawson in a competitive fight where I see his length, athleticism, and newfound ability to mix it up and win an ugly fight on the inside paying him dividends. Dawson is longer, bigger, stronger, just as technically sound, and more athletic than Ward and ultimately I think that will carry the day. This will be a rough fight, but the Hopkins tests will serve Dawson well against the sneaky craftsmanship of Ward, who can frustrate fighters with odd angles and inside tactics like few fighters can. While I think Ward’s will is extraordinary, I don’t think it will be enough to top the superior pugilism of Dawson, who I see him scraping Ward w/ straight left hands and timely jabs en route to a toughly fought split decision (because of hometown judges transforming a UD into a SD).”

Matt McGrain: “This fight is taking place on Dawson territory in more ways than one. Ward to win an absorbing contest close but clear seems the most likely outcome.”

Robert Mladinich: “It was great seeing some passion in Dawson when he angrily threw Bernard Hopkins to the canvas in their first fight. If he musters up enough passion again, he could give Ward a run for his money, but my guess is that doesn’t happen. This will be a ballet between two fine boxing maestros, which translates into a long dull fight that Ward should win comfortably, just as he wins all of his other fights. It’s amazing how Ward can adapt to so many different styles and always win in proficient but lackluster style, which seems to be appreciated only by the boxing purists. Ward W 12.”

Ezra Salkin: “I guess you could say he’s earned it, but it’s interesting that nice guy Andre Ward, super middleweight champ, who’s had a veritable easy time with every professional opponent he’s faced, has demanded all the logistical advantages over light-heavyweight champ Chad Dawson. Like he’s Floyd Mayweather. After defeating Hopkins in his last fight, “Bad” Chad showed zero trepidation when he called out the first opponent who’s likely to be the favorite when they meet September 8th. It was a quiet confidence, not a boisterous one, genuine. Dawson underscored his self-belief further when he agreed to drop down to Ward’s 168-pound class to fight the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and Super Six champion in Ward’s backyard of Oakland, CA. Dawson, whose focus hasn’t always been superlative in easier fights, didn’t balk. In my opinion, this calculation on Ward’s behalf may have been one Dawson’s taken into account for his own performance. Dawson may have found his muse. In front of him lay not only those disadvantages but a fighter who can match him athletically and in terms of the impressive level of opposition he’s vanquished. I think Chad knows exactly what he needs, at least mentally, to be as “Bad” as advertised. That, combined with his height, will be the cache he needs to become the standard bearer as the premium American boxing star of his generation, the position Ward currently enjoys. I like Dawson by majority decision.”

Ted Sares: “I see Ward winning this one easily as he will get into Dawson’s head and roughhouse him with butts, elbows, and other semi-dirty stuff that will upset Chad’s fight plan. Dawson complained to the referee several times about Hopkins’ tactics and while John Scully will do his best to prepare Dawson, Ward is no Hopkins and will prevail by a dominant UD. This is a bad matchup for Dawson, particularly given the catch weight and the home advantage for Ward. It reminds me a bit of Leonard vs. Hagler in that respect.”

Michael Schmidt: “Ward by close decision as he pushes, shoves, elbows and chops his way to victory. Dawson can win this fight big if he fights out of character and acts like our Bronson Coyote/German Shep dog—attack, attack, attack—use your superior length and attack from the outside—bring full aggression—bare your teeth!!!! But, hard to change habits and Chad is an awfully big guy to go to 168—makes you wonder what he will have left in the punch till late in this one. Ward wins.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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