By Jackie Kallen
I have always been a fan of Chad Dawson’s. 31-1 is an impressive record. He is a nice guy, who has worked hard to earn his WBC Light Heavyweight belt. He has impressive wins over Tarver, Glen Johnson and Bernard Hopkins. He has a solid 50% KO percentage as well as having scored nice wins against Adamek and Eric Harding.
So why I am I going with Andre Ward when the two fight this weekend? That’s a good question. Part of it is based on ward’s trainer. I am a huge fan of Virgil Hunter, who also trains my junior welterweight Michael Dallas. He is one of the finest trainers out there today and he gets the most out of his boxers.
Besides getting into their heads with basic knowledge and expert advice, he manages to get into their hearts. He has a way of driving a boxer hard enough to push him to (and sometimes beyond) his limits. He makes them believe that they can do it and he is right there throughout the fight, cheerleading, shouting out encouragement, and making that minute between rounds count. He never takes his eyes off his fighter.
Dawson, a 6’1″ southpaw, is comfortable in the 175 weight class and is taking a risk by slimming down to 168. As a naturally bigger man, that can either be a huge advantage, or a serious liability if the weight loss weakens him in any way.
Standing an inch shorter and being two years younger, Ward is stretching his skills by standing in front of a man who normally outweghs him by a large margin. But that doesn’t bother SOG at all. He is up for the challenge and with a similiar KO ratio to Dawson’s, neither man has been stopped in the ring and Ward brings a spotless 25-0 record with him.
In most cases when a bigger man is moving down in weight, I would tend to favor the larger man. But in the case of Ward, I don’t see this as a problem. Ward has beaten the likes of Edison Miranda, who KOed 70% of his opponents before facing Ward. He also disposed of Mikkel Kessler, whose KO record is even higher than Miranda’s.
Adding to my decision is the fact that Ward dominated another heavy hitter, Arthur Abraham, and made Carl Froch look silly. There is something about ward’s style that makes everyone he fights look second-best. He outclasses and out-guns them all.
This fight puts two belts on the line: The WBC and WBA Super Middleweight titles. They are both admirable titles, worth fighting for. Ward currently owns them both. It will be interesting to see if “Bad” Chad can defeat a man who is younger than him, since many of his opponents have been a bit long in the tooth.
Dawson is hoping their fight turns into a slugfest so he can rough SOG up. On the other hand, Ward seems most comfortable when he slickly box circles around his opponent. He is also a master at counter-punching. It will be a test of wills to see which style prevails. Neither man can give in and fight the other man’s fight.
If you are a bettor, the odds favor the unbeaten Ward. That might, however, give Dawson even more reason to rise to the occasion. Being the underdog might make him strive even harder to prove the gamblers wrong.
In any case, I am going with Andre SOG Ward to win by a close decision. I predict it will be a good, tactical fight with some exciting moments in the middle rounds. At the end, however, I can see Ward’s hand being raised in victory.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen