By: William Holmes
A common complaint boxing aficionados hear about their sport is that you rarely see the best fight the best. Casual boxing fans often complain, and rightfully so, that the only fights you see on TV are clear mismatches between an elite boxer and tomato can.
However, this month features not one, but two compelling match-ups between fighters at the top of their game. The buzz behind next week’s middleweight showdown between Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has been deafening, but Saturday’s fight between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson is a fight that more pundits should be talking about.
The following is a preview of the fight between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson, as well as a preview of the lightweight title bout between Antonio DeMarco and John Molina.
Antonio DeMarco (27-2) vs. John Molina (24-1); WBC Lightweight Title
This fight is compelling in that there is no clear cut favorite. Neither Antonio DeMarco or John Molina can be considered a top 10 pound-for-pound boxer, but both are exciting fighters that have been in some very compelling bouts.
Antonio DeMarco is the current WBC champion, a belt he won over Jorge Linares in a thrilling affair on the undercard of Dawson vs. Hopkins I in Los Angeles, California. DeMarco was outboxed by Linares that night, but showed heart and resolve and was able to come from behind with a memorable 11th round TKO victory.
DeMarco is the cousin of Humberto Soto and has boxing in his blood, but he does not have the extensive and glistening amateur background of many champions. He previously fought for a belt in 2010 against the late Edwin Valero, but lost by a 9th round RTD. DeMarco has been on a four-fight winning streak since that loss, with his most impressive victory coming against Linares.
John Molina’s only loss came in 2009 against the unheralded Martin Honorio. Since then, Molina has gone 6-0, with his most impressive victory being a come from behind 11th round TKO victory over the then undefeated Henry Lundy.
Molina is a pressure fighter, and is able to absorb punishment well. Both fighters have won four of their last fights by KO or TKO and have considerable power.
This is a very compelling match-up and will likely be a close contest, but DeMarco is the current champion and has faced the tougher competition. He should be a slight favorite on Saturday night.
Andre Ward (25-0) vs. Chad Dawson (31-1); WBA/WBC Super Middleweight Title
After Andre Ward won the Super Six tournament, pundits and fans alike were clamoring for him to fight Lucian Bute. Some even made the questionable argument that Ward was ducking Bute. But before that fight could be made a reality, Bute lost in devastating fashion to Super Six runner up Carl Froch.
Andre Ward was seemingly left without a viable opponent until the unthinkable happened. Recent Bernard Hopkins conqueror, Chad Dawson, decided to move down a weight class to challenge the Super Middleweight champion.
In my opinion, Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson is a much more competitive fight than Bute vs. Ward would have been.
Andre Ward has been on a tear since winning the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. Ward was 115-5 as an amateur, and if you include his record as an amateur, Ward has not lost a fight since 1998.
Ward isn’t flashy, and he doesn’t have a crowd-pleasing style, but he is very, very, good. He’s not known for his power: only 13 of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO. Ward is known for being incredibly tough to hit, for his savvy ring IQ, and his ability to hit you at will [and for his sharp elbows and hard head — ed].
Andre Ward is undefeated, but unlike some other undefeated boxers, Ward has been tested early and often. He has only fought one opponent with a losing record, and that was way back in 2007. Since then he has defeated the likes of Rubin Williams, Henry Buchanan, Edison Miranda, Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Arthur Abraham, and a clear victory over Carl Froch.
Andre Ward should be considered a top five pound for pound boxer, and he’s only starting to hit his peak.
Chad Dawson, however, is no slouch, and even though he is two years older than Ward, he is also in his prime.
Dawson is a southpaw, and that might present some problems for Ward. Dawson is also the taller fighter and naturally bigger fighter. A drop down in weight may negatively affect Dawson, but Dawson is used to big challenges.
Dawson first won the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship against current heavyweight Tomasz Adamek in 2007. He followed that fight with two victories over the durable Glen Johnson and two consecutive and clear victories over Antonio Tarver. Despite these victories over tough and well known opponents, Dawson did not gain the fame that he had been seeking.
In 2010 Dawson went into Montreal, Canada to fight Jean Pascal in his hometown. Dawson came out lethargic, and fell behind the scorecards early on in the fight. He started to come on strong late in the fight, and had Pascal backtracking and hanging on to survive. However, a headbutt caused a cut over Dawson’s left eye and the ringside doctor decided to stop the fight in the 11th round. The fight went to the scorecards and Dawson suffered his first professional loss, but many feel that Dawson was on the verge of stopping Pascal late in the fight.
Dawson went back to Montreal in his next fight and stopped Adrian Diaconu, and then fought Bernard Hopkins twice: once in a forgettable affair in Los Angeles that was stopped due to an accidental injury, and the second time in Hopkins’ backyard of Atlantic City. Hopkins looked lost in the ring with Dawson, and Dawson won convincingly.
Dawson will be bringing a long reach into the ring on Saturday night as well as lots of heart. His technical boxing ability is not on the same level as Andre Ward, but it’s not far behind.
Chad Dawson will also once again show that he is willing to fight anybody, anywhere, as he has agreed to travel to Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California for this fight.
This will be a close, competitive fight between two fighters in their prime. It’s a fight that already has the makings of a trilogy, but if you have to give the edge to one fighter, you have to give it to the man fighting in front of his hometown fans.
Andre Ward has not tasted defeat since 1998, and he won’t taste defeat in 2012.