Media Interview with Andre Ward & Chad Dawson
ANDRE WARD AND CHAD DAWSON
MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
Thank you, everybody, for joining us today and I am thrilled to be hosting this call for such an awesome fight. This is Andre Ward and Chad Dawson’s International Media conference call. We will start with one team and then lead into the other.
Just a couple of media notes, I do have a note here that the replay of 24/7 – Road to Ward/Dawson will be airing Friday, 7:00 p.m. eastern and pacific.
We will also be sending out the fight week’s schedule. There are great opportunities planned for fight week and that is attributed to the wonderful job the promoters have done.
At this time, I’m going to introduce Dan Goossen, President of Goossen Tutor Promotions. Then, we will be joined by “Bad” Chad Dawson and his trainer John Scully. Dan?
Well, thank you, Kelly. First off, thank you all for joining us today. I’m going to make it short and sweet from my end, and then I’m going let you hear from Chad Dawson and John Scully. I’ll be hopping back on when Andre gets on. Gary’s in Germany right now, getting ready for his fight against Sturm, so I’m doing this, as a courtesy to him.
First off, Kelly mentioned the fight week schedule. Tuesday, we’re going to have the final open workout with Andre and Dawson. That will be followed by Wednesday press availabilities for DeMarco and Molina. Anyone that needs any interviews with Antonio DeMarco and John Molina, Jr., please contact Kelly. That, in itself, is going to be a great fight and a great way to open up the HBO Telecast. The final press conference will be Thursday at 11:30 a.m., at a restaurant in Oakland, which will be noted on the events schedule (update: FAZ Restaurant).
Then, on Friday we’re doing something a little bit differently. HBO came out there and did their HBO, 24/7 – Road to Ward/Dawson. They really gave it the full treatment, as if it was a Pay-Per-View Event. We’re appreciative of that, because I think it was important that both Ward and Dawson got a chance to say something about themselves, other than what they do inside the ring. They certainly deserved it, we thought it was great, but what we’re doing is a FanFest on Friday that will be held at the Oakland City Center.
We’ve got sponsors involved in this, including 95.7 The Game, the local radio station in the Bay Area, one of the hottest ones coming out right now. They’re going to have a radio remote there. One of their sister stations, KBLX will be also hosting the event live at the City Center, along with Corona who will have a beer garden, for all you guys that need a cold one, we’re going to have a beer garden there. We’ve got Everlast out there with their booth, City of Oakland, Oracle Arena, ourselves. It’s going to be a real festive celebration event within an event to get ready for the main event on Saturday night.
HBO will have a booth also, and all this will lead into the live weigh-in, which will be at the same place, starting at 2:30, where we’ll have Molina/DeMarco, and Ward and Dawson weighing in, at the City Center. We expect 3,000 to 4,000, 5,000 fans to attend this FanFest. Anyway, any other questions you have regarding fight week or related to the fight, Kelly’s your go-to person. Andy Olson is handling credentials.
I’m going to turn it over to John to say a few words, and I’ll have Chad say something, and then I’ll leave you guys together with them. John?
Okay, hello. I’m just obviously excited to be here. This is a huge fight for us and a huge fight for boxing and I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m excited for Chad. I know how bad he wants this, and he wants that recognition that this fight is going to bring, and I’m just proud to be a part of helping him get to his goal.
Thank you, John. Chad?
Yes, I just want to thank everybody involved with the fight; you, Dan Goossen or Gary Shaw, my promoter, and HBO for putting such a push behind this fight. The HBO, 24/7 was great. I think it gave me and Andre Ward a lot of exposure, and people liked it. Like I said, I’m excited to be in the position I’m in. I’m excited about the fight, and everything has been going great and I’m looking forward to Sept 8th.
Thank you, very much. Kelly, I’m going to throw it back to you. You handle it with getting the media up there, and I’ll be back when Andre gets on, okay?
Q and A K. Swanson Thank you so much, Dan.
D. Goossen Thanks, take care.
Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News.
Chad, I was just curious. You’ve already been Light-Heavyweight Champion, obviously, so you’ve already tasted that World Championship stuff, but how much would a victory over Andre Ward mean to you, a rank in your career, especially since you’re having to come down in weight to get it, which we all know is very difficult in this game?
The weight problem was not difficult at all. My weight is good. I’m ready to scale at 168 pounds. A victory of Andre Ward would mean a lot for my career. We’re talking about somebody who is rated very high on the pound-for-pound list, and somebody who has a lot of recognition. He won a Gold Medal in the Olympics. When you look at his resume, it doesn’t really get any bigger than that, especially winning a Gold Medal for the United States, so I’m looking forward to the fight and going out there and I’ll prove everybody wrong.
People are so wrapped up about the fact that I’m moving down to 168 pounds, when they saw me at a seven-pound weight difference, but I’ll make the weight comfortably and I’ll be ready to fight on the 8th.
Dan Rafael from ESPN.com
Chad, listen, my question for you was, a little bit of what Robert was saying about the 168, to make it. People, myself, a lot of people, make a big deal about you coming down in weight for this fight.
First of all, you said it’s been going okay for you. My question for you, though, is whatever happens in this fight; let’s say you win the Super-Middleweight World Championship, now you’re Super-Middleweight Champ, you’re still Light-Heavyweight Champion; is this like a one-and-done for you and you go back to Light-Heavyweight and just have said I accomplished my goal, I won the Super-Middleweight title; or do you think you could continue to make 168 if the right fight presented itself in this weight class?
I definitely think I can continue to make 168. I’m, like you said, I’ve kind of got the best of both worlds. If I go down, if everything works according to plan and I win the title, and I’m looking for good fights in either weight class. I think 168 is a lot more loaded than the Light-Heavyweight Division is. I also do think that those guys at 168, including Andre Ward, will be coming up to Light-Heavyweight real soon, so as I say, I’m in a great position. I could go back to Light-Heavyweight and wait for those guys or I could stay at 168 pounds and contend against the Kesslers and Froch and those guys, so I think it’s a great position to be in.
How much of a difference has it been for you, then, in this training camp, and maybe John could address this also, for you to drop that extra seven pounds, compared to what you would normally do to make 175 in a normal training camp to defend the Light-Heavyweight Title or to fight at a Light-Heavyweight fight; has it been much different or is it just diet a little bit more, run a little bit more, what’s been the big difference? You made 168 for so many years anyway.
Yes, just dieting; a lot of people don’t understand, I came into training camp at 178 and 180 pounds. I came into camp, just came, I got in and I was 180 pounds, so like I told everybody before, it’s not hard for me to make the weight. I put another little bit extra mile on my runs and I’m dieting, and that’s something that I haven’t done in years, and that’s diet. When I was fighting in Light-Heavyweight I was able to eat what I wanted and still go into the weigh-in and make the weight, so this camp, it was great.
It just made me a little meaner, the fact that I can’t eat what I want and have to diet, so I’ll be ready for the weigh-in. I’ll jump on the scale at 167, probably 168 pounds, and I’ll prove everybody wrong, the people who think that I’m not going to be able to make the weight, that I’ll be drained and dehydrated. That’s not the case at all.
Hey, John, could you address that from your point of view, as the trainer. Has there been any difference in his energy level, or do you know where there are any particular problems, or things when it comes to him trying to make this weight?
No, like he said, and I didn’t even actually know this, because Axel takes care of all his cooking and food and everything. In the other training camps, I didn’t monitor the food at all, so I kind of assumed that he was just dieting and eating the proper foods. Then, for this fight, I said, “Hey, you sure we’re going to make 168,” and he said, listen, all he’s got to do is starting eating good. I didn’t realize it before, when we fought Hopkins, I mean he beat Hopkins on a diet that I wouldn’t have chosen, you know what I mean?
So, now, with eating the proper foods and after discussing it with Axel, it appears that it’s not going to be a problem at all. I’ve read a lot of blogs and people are really focused on this weight thing, but I think it’s a misguided direction of energy because it just doesn’t seem to be an issue.
I think it’s just an unusual thing, that you see a prime champion like Chad to drop weight to make a fight, where it normally is the other champion, it would be Ward to move up. Maybe, Chad, you could just address this also; some people say Ward insisted on 168, others say catch weight, no problem. There’s been back and forth, but what is your side of the story is to how it came to be that you’re making 168, as opposed to either defending your title at 175 or defending your title at some weight above 168?
Dan, I guess, it doesn’t really matter what the agreement was. When I announced that I wanted to fight Andre Ward on HBO, I said 168 and you could do a catch weight or we could do 175. That’s what I said, and they said 168. I’m not the type of person who is going to go back and forth, back and forth. I told my promotor, Gary Shaw, to make this fight, I’d do 168 and I’ll go to Oakland, so I gave him every advantage. I think that credits my ability and what I know I’m capable of and what I know I could do in the arena. I don’t care that the fight’s in Oakland. I don’t care that it’s at 168 pounds, because I know I’ll be comfortable and everything is going to go my way.
Alexis Terrazas, San Francisco Examiner.
Yes, the odds makers right now have you as the underdog, and that’s a position that you always haven’t been in, but why do you think that is and do you take offense to that? Does that give you any extra motivation fuel in your game?
No, I don’t take offense to it at all. People, in fact, have their own opinion. All I can say is that they’re making the wrong bet. My training camp has been great. I’m not worried about being the underdog. Like you said, I’ve never been in this position before, and it’s maybe about time that I am in that position. It’s going to give me fuel and it’s going to make me a better fighter.
Your last two bouts were against a guy, in Hopkins, a really difficult style, effective for him, but not necessarily a crowd-pleasing. Andre kind of has that type of style, effective, difficult, not really crowd-pleasing. How does that experience from those two fights, how will that help you on September 8th?
When I fought Bernard, the second time, like you said, he’s so tricky and so crafty in the ring. He’s very smart when it comes to that, and I did what I had to do to win the fight, but at the end of the fight I knew I could have done more. The fact that I’ve been in the ring with Bernard for 14 rounds, I think it says a lot about me and how I can deal with different styles.
I fought everybody from Tarver to Glen Johnson and Bernard and Tomasz Adamek, and those are all three different styles, so when they say that Andre Ward can adapt to any style, I’m saying, wait, I can adapt to any style and I can figure out how to beat any style. I’m a very intelligent fighter when I’m in the ring and, come the eighth, everybody is going to see that, and they’re going to realize that I am a better fighter than Andre Ward.
The last question here, we all saw the 24/7, Chad, and you’re a quiet guy, you like to do your talking inside the ring, but how was this training camp and leading up to this fight different? Are you used to these cameras being all around your family and in the gym? Is that any different, or are you just kind of taking it in stride and maybe pretending they’re not even there? How’s that going for you?
I just pretend that they’re not there. It’s something that they had to do. HBO wanted to be able to get inside and show the fans and the boxing audience how we live outside of the gym and how we do training, so it just comes with the territory. At the end of the day, you have to get used to it. I think it was good that they showcased me and Andre Ward’s lifestyle and our families and everything, and it was a great look. People loved it, so it was great. There was no problem with it at all.
Jason Gonzalez, MaxBoxing.com.
Chad, I already got John’s take on this matter, I want to get yours. Considering you have a victory over Bernard Hopkins in the boxing calendar year of 2012, would a victory over Andre Ward make you the Fighter of the Year?
I don’t know. I don’t worry about those things, honestly. I don’t know. I don’t really care. My whole focus is getting this victory. If they want to make me Fighter of the Year, I’ll be glad to accept it, but right now that’s not even on my mind.
Okay. Now, the second question, do you buy into the hype that Andre’s a dirty fighter with the head butting and the elbowing, the elbows on the inside of the clinches, and whatnot?
No, because I’ve never been in the ring with him, so I don’t know. I can’t buy into something that I’ve never experienced. I’ve watched his tapes and I’ve been studying him, but I can’t say that he’s a dirty fighter. I’ll have to judge that when I get into the ring with him on the eighth.
Bob Velin, USA Today.
One of the questions I had was kind of asked, but I will maybe put it a different way. Do you feel that being on 24/7 gives people a different idea of who Chad Dawson is, more of a family man than maybe what people thought? Has that been a help for you?
I’ve always considered myself to be a family man. I felt people saw that, too. My family is at every fight. My family comes first before anything. At the end of the day, my job is to raise my kids and be a good husband, and that’s what I try to do. I try to live my life like that. Only good things come to people who live their life like that, so that’s what I try to do.
I try to show my kids right from wrong and just be there for them at any time, so whatever the people got out of the 24/7 is great, because when I watched it, it made me see that, even though I already know that, but family is definitely more important than anything else. I love my family. I love my wife. I love my kids, so that’s just how I am, it’s just me.
You both have styles of not necessarily wanting to go toe-to-toe with somebody, but avoiding punches. Do you see any way that this fight could turn into a slugfest, a toe-to-toe battle?
You got to look at the fact that you got two young guys with a lot on the table and a lot to lose and a lot to gain, so I think that this fight is going to eventually turn into, as the rounds go on, you’re going to have two guys pushing and two guys that are determined, so I definitely think that the fight can turn into that type of fight, the fight that people want to see.
Do you feel that Andre has the power to hurt you if he connects?
I don’t know, because anything can happen in boxing. I’ve seen guys with the least punching power hurt guys, so I’m not even going to think about that. My whole thing is just going in there, winning this fight, and doing it in a great fashion and giving the crowd a great fight.
Lem Satterfield, TheRing.com.
John, you and I discussed this a while ago, and Chad just kind of mentioned it with Bob, that there is a lot on the line for these guys, and for the first time in a while you have two guys who are considered the best in their division and they’ve already, not just based on their talent, but their pedigree and who they’ve beaten along the way, so given that, how much does it matter to Chad and to you to have that, potentially that Sugar Ray Leonard/Thomas Hearns type of battle, or would it still be an acceptable achievement to have sort of like a Roy Jones/Bernard Hopkins, the first fight that they had, which wasn’t necessarily a dog fight, but to recognize the skill and ability of the fighters?
For me, as the trainer, especially, the whole thing is winning, above all else, above the crowd, above the legacy, above everything, winning is the most important thing, and that’s how we have to approach the fight. I do think that Chad has the ability and the potential to open up more and be more exciting, and I honestly have the feeling that Andre is going to bring that out of him.
I’m surprised that after seeing Chad in the first Glen Johnson fight, the way he responded like a warrior, I think a lot of people think that that’s like a weakness with him, but I read where people have said, “Oh, man, Andre’s going to get inside,” and he’s going to do this and that, and I actually think, and he can tell you better, but I think Chad wants him to come like that.
I think Chad welcomes him making it a good fight. I think the better the fight is, the more Chad is going to like it, because it’s going to draw out all of the things that he has in him, because the fact of the matter is, and I know this from knowing Chad since he was a kid, there is so much talent and power and explosiveness that the fact is he’s never shown, he hasn’t had to show, because he’s won the majority of these fights so easily, so I think it could very well turn into the fight people want to see, and I think contrary to the belief of some people, I think it’s going to favor Chad if it turns into that kind of fight.
Chad, do you have any reaction to what I just said?
No, I’m just looking for a great fight. I know that Andre was a great fighter, and like Scully said, this is a fight I wanted because I know what type of fighter that it takes to bring the best out of me and Andre Ward is that pedigree of a fighter. He can bring that and I’m pretty sure that he knows that I got the same thing in me to bring the best out of him, so that’s why I say everybody that’s down on the fight and saying that it’s going to be a boring fight, you can’t say that because you’ve got two guys that are on top of their game, two guys in their prime, you got two guys that are the best in their divisions, and we’re really fighting for something. It’s not like we’re fighting for nothing, we’re fighting for something, and what we’re fighting for is something big, so, like I said, I do believe that this is going to be a very exciting fight.
Okay. One last question for you, one of the fights that I look at in your career, some people don’t give you as much credit for beating the Tarvers and the Johnsons because they were older fighters, and even Bernard, but the Adamek fight was at a time where both of you guys were undefeated. I think you went down once, he went down, and he hadn’t lost until he lost to Klitschko, since then. How much of that fight do you look at as making you the fighter that you are now, and do you think you deserve more credit for that win than maybe you have gotten?
I’m thinking I’ve gotten the credit for that fight. I think people know what I can do and they just haven’t seen it, but when they see that Chad Dawson again, which is going to be on the eighth, I think that people will start to give me more credit.
What is that, Chad Dawson? Can you go back to that fight and kind of put – you went down in that fight and you had to come back – what questions do you feel you answered then that you will bring back on September 8th? Can you talk a little bit about it?
That I’m a warrior, that I’ve been in a ring 33 times, I’ve been hit, I’ve been hurt, I’ve been down, and I’ve gotten back up, and that’s going to always be my style of fighting. Whenever I get hurt, the first thing that pops in my head is to come back. I come back meaner and I come back tougher, so that’s just me, and that’s the fighter I’m going to try to continue to be.
Richard de Ocio, Fresno Examiner.
John in how you’re preparing Chad for this fight. Obviously, we talked about the weight cutting and that could be something that’s going to be an issue. Now, taking a look at what’s it’s going to be like in the ring, how do you think the fight is going to play out, initially, right from let’s say rounds one to four? Is that going to be a feeling out process of determining what kind of fight Andre Ward’s going to bring to the table, or do you think Chad’s going to be able to impose his will early, whatever your strategy is going to be, and if you could shed some light into the strategy?
Without going too much into detail, I’ll say this as a basic overview that’s always in play with Chad. I’ve always said that I feel Chad is in the Mayweather, Roy Jones type of realm where more often than not, the opponent is going to have to deal with Chad, more than he’s going to have to deal with them.
He has certain things that he was born with, certain things, just the mentality that he has, and his approach to the fight that forces people to have to adjust to him. His height, obviously, is one of those things that just can’t be avoided. You have to adjust. I think, more than all of the Andre’s recent opponents, I think we’re going to be able to implement out style because, like I said, without giving too much away, I’ve watched all of Andre’s fights and I don’t feel that any of his opponents, as good as they were, they weren’t able to establish their own game plan. They had to adjust to Andre’s, and I felt that some of that was because of their physical limitations that Chad obviously doesn’t have.
Put it this way, I think, going into this fight, Andre, when they went looking for sparring partners, they probably had a tough time finding someone that could bring to the table what Chad is going to bring to the table.
R. de Ocio
Yes, and, Chad, just to follow up on that, how do you think you’re going to come out and answer the opening bell for that fight on September 8th?
Just going out and bringing energy, just bring energy. I just want to be more active and I’ll just bring a lot of energy to the fight, and impose my will.
Robert Hough, FightNews.com.
Hi, a couple of questions for Chad Dawson. I’ve done a good bit of work with Andre Ward over the years, interviewing him and Virgil Hunter, and Virgil’s made what might be a subtle point in that his people have noted Mr. Ward can fight in a variety of styles, which poses, perhaps, challenges in the ring.
But also, from Hunter’s perspective, challenges in preparing because it’s, to his size, difficult to get the good sparring partners who can replicate what he can do. Can you talk some about how you’re preparing for that? Is it a matter of sparring both with guys who have got that big strong inside game and can do more of the sharp-shooting style, or doing some of each, or what’s your approach in sparring on that front?
First of all, we’ve had great sparring, I think the sparring that we’ve had is a lot better than what we’ve expected, so on that note, everything is great. I’m not worried about finding guys to emulate him too much, because we got guys that emulate him very well. I’m just prepared, I’m ready to go, and I’ll be ready on the eighth.
A quick follow-up, I talked to you briefly in Sacramento, California in 2007, Gary Shaw was nice enough to bring you over to press row and you were super gracious and Gary said, “Chad doesn’t travel with a posse, he travels with his family.” We talked on 24/7 some, by the time the Pascal fight came around, there were 30 people around you in your entourage, and they all disappeared after that fight didn’t go your way. Can you talk some about how things got from that point in ’07 when it was you and your family to you and 30 people around you?
Yes, but when I said that, I wasn’t talking about, like at the fight, me walking around with 30 people, but after the fight, when I got back home to New Haven. I mean, I didn’t travel with those guys. When I came home, I was embraced by 30 guys that I hung around with, that I would go out with. We’d always be together.
And to touch on that, I think every fighter goes through that type of situation. When you’re up, everybody wants to be around you and be there to hold your coattail, but when you’re down, nobody really knows what to say to you, or nobody dares to pick you up and tell you, “Look, Chad, man, it’s okay, you’ll bounce back.” So, when I lost to Pascal, when I got home, it was literally maybe a handful of people that said, “It’s okay, we know you’ll bounce back,” but everybody else disappeared. No phone calls, no nothing, and that just put my mind in a different place. I’m a different person from that. I learned who my real friends are and who my real friends aren’t.
Like I said, I think every fighter or anybody who’s ever been at the level I was at has been through that, from the Michael Jordans to the Kobe Bryants, Lebron James, I’m pretty sure they all experienced it.
Are you a Celtics fan?
No, I’m a Miami Heat fan.
Yes, well, Ward likes the Lakers, so you might have something to talk about.
What I got from what you said in the 24/7, it seems like between fights you have sort of gotten away from having 25, 30 people around, is that correct?
Yes, yes, I’ve definitely gotten away from that. You see me after the fight now and I’m in the house with my family, bringing my kids to school every morning, picking them up, making sure that my home, my kids, and my wife are straight. That’s my whole game. That’s how I live my life now.
Colin Seymour, Examiner.com
Hi, this is Colin Seymour. I’m glad to meet you, Chad. I’m in California. When you were out here in California, you were treated a little bit inhospitably. It seemed to me that Virgil Hunter was really trying to get under your skin and he’s very good at that. Did he succeed in any way?
He failed with a big F. Yes, he got an F for that, but I’ve been in the ring with Bernard and I’ve been at a press conferences with Bernard, I’ve been in a press conferences with Tarver. I’ve experienced all of that, and those guys didn’t get under my skin, so I don’t know what makes him think he would get under my skin, but I’m fine and, like I said, he flunked that test.
It’s got to be tough coming out to Andre Ward’s hometown and he’s got thousands of people flocking around him. You were talking about the people who are actually around you, but what about the people that are just your fan base, who are they and how much can this fight do to expand your fan base?
I mean it could do a lot. I don’t know what type of crowd I’ll have out there in Oakland, but I wouldn’t care if I had one fan in the audience, as long as my family and my closest friends are there, it doesn’t matter to me, so everything is great.
Okay, that was Chad’s last question, so we are going to thank the Champion, the WBC of Ring Magazine, Light-Heavyweight World Champion for joining us, along with his trainer, John Scully. Thank you so much, you guys, and we will see you next week. Looking forward to a great fight. Dan Goossen has returned to the line, and so has Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter. Dan, can you take it from here?
Okay, great. Andre, it’s great to have you out here. Virg, we won’t keep you guys long. Let’s open it up with Virgil to say a few words, then we’ll have you say something, Andre, and then we’ll get to the Q&A. Virg, how is everything going in training?
Everything is going great, Dan. The camp is going well. We’ve winded down the last week. I’m very pleased from where we’re at and what we need to do. We’re very in sync on what we need to do, and very in tune on what’s lying ahead. In that respect, I couldn’t be more happy. I’m glad the fight is getting close. All the heavy work is pretty much out of the way, and now we’re just looking forward to a big evening in Oakland, California.
You mentioned a big evening in Oakland, California, it’s amazing out there. I kind of touched on it at the beginning with the press, at the beginning of this call, and we’ve got tremendous sponsors out there. We’ve got 95.7 The Game, that’s one of the hottest sports talk shows out there in the Bay Area right now that are our sponsor, along with the City of Oakland, the Oakland Tribune. We’ve got Azad Watches. We’ve got Corona, a lot of support out there. Everlast, and I think it just shows the importance and the bigness of this fight and how the City of Oakland and the Bay Area in itself are embracing it, and looking at this is their Superbowl.
Andre, why don’t you say a few words on how training is going, everything else, and then we’ll throw it to the media.
Not really much to say, obviously, we’ve been having our head down and working. I lost track of how long camp has been going on and how much time we’ve got left. I’m just focused on putting in the work every single day. Like Virg said, everything is going according to schedule. The other side, they’ve been doing a lot of talking, and that’s fine. We’ve been quiet, we’ve just been working, and we just, as always, we want to talk about us come fight night, September 8th.
Lem Satterfield, TheRing.com
Hey, Andre, I asked this of Chad, also, and also Virgil; this fight is obviously between two of the best in this sport. I’ve been talking to people about it and different fans and they all see it as going either two ways. There can be a Roy Jones/Bernard Hopkins type of fight where you have two really highly skilled guys kind of sitting back and measuring each other, or you could have a Sugar Ray Leonard/ Thomas Hearns type of fight because you have two great athletes who obviously have built up a great pedigree, not just on their talent, but they’ve shown it in the ring. Virgil, what kind of fight do you see happening? Andre, what kind of fight do you see happening, and all the possibilities?
Well, first of all, the fight in itself is going to be exciting, and I think you have two determined athletes, there’s a lot at stake. I’m sure they’re very much aware of some of the criticism and the critiques that have come that way where it’s amazing to me where people can predetermine the outcome of a fighter, even speak in a negative tone of what they think.
It’s unfortunate today that the purist has been pushed aside for what is deemed, in my eyes, as we no longer teach the art of boxing anymore. We just put some gloves on people and we just point them in the middle of the ring and say, “Go, and swing, and keep swinging, and keep your hands down and get hit in the head, any time you want.”
You can’t help; it’s always got to be of certain, to me, a division of fans who are going to appreciate what boxing is truly all about. It’s also going to be those fans who really don’t understand boxing and can’t get a grasp of what this sport truly is, unless they see something that they consider much exciting today, in terms of 100 head shots landing within five rounds, and bloody noses and busted eyes and things like that, but it is what it is. I expect a great fight and I know coming from my end, Andre Ward is not a boring fighter. When you dominate, he could appear boring, but when we talk about action, he’s an action fighter, without a doubt.
Andre, do you have anything to add to that?
You know what, my mind’s set. I’m on a one-track mission and that’s to get my hand raised. I think if you really watch my fights, I do a little bit of everything in my fights. I think the knock is like Virg said, if you don’t take a certain amount of punishment, then, people who are really not, I don’t want to say ignorant of the sport, but people who like a certain type of fight, if you don’t take a lot of punishment or it doesn’t seem like you’re getting hit that often, you’re reluctant, you’re getting tired of being boring.
Well, the guys that make it in this sport, the greats, the guys that can still walk and talk when their careers are over and still live their lives like Sugar Ray Leonard and guys like Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, those guys, obviously they took shots, they’re in the sport of boxing. Those guys are masters, and I’ve always been trained to be a master, and that’s what I’m going to continue training to become is a master of the sport, where even though no fight is easy, you make it look a certain way.
So, I’m really oblivious to what people are saying, how they feel about the fight. I think it’s a great match up. I think the match and the credentials speak for themselves, but I’m locked in, I’m getting my hand raised.
You brought something up that’s interesting is the fact that even though there’s been fights like the Froch fight and the Kessler fight where observers thought it was going to be potentially some of that blood and guts, and when you came into the Super Six, people thought maybe you were going to be exposed as someone who couldn’t take this or that. What is it about your ability, Virgil, both of you, that has allowed you to neutralize other fighters and kind of mute their attack as opposed to what people thought they were going to see?
Well, it’s tough to say. At the end of the day, we put in our work, we study, we do all the things we’re supposed to do, and then from there, it’s just the desire to win and the desire to come out on top. Like I said before, none of those fights were easy, but we found a way to get it done. I think that’s the mark of a potentially great fighter.
It’s just plain and simple, Andre Ward knows how to fight. It’s like in any other sport, when you know your craft and someone’s on the receiving end of that craft, then it’s made to look easy. Look, there’re a lot of times we can say that these two guys had a tremendous amount of heart because they went in the middle of the ring, they dug their feet in the canvas, and they went toe-to-toe. I, in particular, think that’s an out and it’s a margin of error.
Let me tell you something, man, any fighter if you gave him a choice, if you gave them the opportunity, if I had a magic wand and I said, I can poof you here and you can go up to a fight and you won’t take no punishment. Or I can poor you here and you can go into to a fight and you’ll give some of the greatest toe-to-toe fights in history. I guarantee you he’s going to take the one where he’s taking no punishment. It comes down to ability, it comes down to talent, and it comes down to understanding the art and the craft of boxing.
So, when you see two guys going toe-to-toe, nine times out of ten, if you look at all their fights, these fights suggest this because there’re limitations somewhere. So, they were taught how to fight in such a way that they missed a lot of things that the game offered in terms of developing craft.
So, I can’t be fooled. Every single person who looks for this fight-if they had a son that chose boxing and they had an opportunity to have a coach that’ll teach their son how to hit and not to get hit, they’re going to take that coach before they take one that’ll say, well, I’ll take your son and he’ll give just as much as he takes. They’re going to take that coach that says, I can have your son hit and not get hit. So, to me, that’s excitement in boxing, mastering that craft. So, again, I say it’s limitations on the other fighter.
Even when you look at Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, you saw strategy in that in fight. Now, when they got older and they lost some of their physical ability and attributes, the second fight was a little bit more action packed. They didn’t, there was lesser athletic ability, they were a little older. But, that first fight, that was a very strategic fight. It was not what you would call a slam, bam, drag-you-to-the-mud type fight.
Alexis Terrazas from The San Francisco Examiner
You’ve always been a guy, maybe the best that I’ve seen in action early and all that, active today that is really effective at making the other guy adapt to you. In other words, you take them out of their game plan, you do such. But how will you do that against Dawson? A pure boxer, a guy who’s a southpaw, he’s tall, and ultimately he’s good. So, how are you going to make him bend to your will, so to speak?
Well, I have 12 rounds, number one and really the foundation is what it’s been for every single fight, that’s getting myself in tip-top shape, my mind is right, I’m ready for war, and we have a game plan and whatever adjustments need to made along the way, they’ll be made. I mean, I can’t give you this blueprint on how it’s going to be done, but the idea is for it to get done regardless of how it gets done.
A lot of people are making a big deal about Chad’s height and reach and that’s a given. He’s got the height and reach advantage, but you’ve got to look at it from my standpoint, from the athlete’s standpoint, I’m not enamored with that. I’m not spooked by the height and the reach deficit. I’m coming to get a job done September 8th, and it’s no different than any other fight that I’ve been in. Whether it’s Abraham who’s short, squatty, and explosive, Carl Froch who’s strong, long, and wiry. I mean, at the end of the day you got to find a way and I’ve always said that and September 8th will be no different.
Is it going to be like a mixture, though, of maybe fighting on the inside and maybe staying outside, or are you going to try to use that as kind of a game plan?
Once again, I can’t give you a blueprint on exactly what’s going to happen, this is a fight. So, if we knew exactly how it was going to happen, that’d be great, but you don’t know. But, again, if you watch my fights and if you’re familiar with my fights, that’s what we do. We show what we have to show. Whether it’s inside, outside, the key is not to be one-dimensional, so I think you’re accurate when you say that.
Okay. What concerns you most about fighting Chad and fighting at home? Fighting at home usually is kind of chalked up as an advantage, but not always. So, what’s your concerns about Chad Dawson in Oakland?
I really don’t have any concerns. I respect my opponent. I understand who I’m fighting. I watched Chad for years. Obviously, I’ve honed in on him a little bit more as of late since this fight had been signed and whatnot. But, I don’t know if concern is the right word. We respect the other side. They seem to be doing some good work over there.
There should be no excuses when this fight is over. I’m looking forward for a tremendous fight. Once again, I got another great competitor at the other end of the ring, but I plan on getting my hand raised. I sacrificed a lot to get to this point and I still feel like it’s timing. That’s what it kind of what it boils down to.
Once again, from the athlete’s standpoint, I don’t get caught up in a lot of the things that are out there. I’m a one-track-mind. I’ve been in training camp for a long time. I’ve been preparing for this fight for a long time. So, some of the other things don’t even come into my mind in terms of what I’m concerned about.
As far as fighting at home, obviously, it’s different in terms of it being the home base, but I’m just looking forward to giving the fans a great show. My zone is going to be as if me and Chad Dawson are the only two people in that arena. That’s how I approach these fights. Then when it’s all said and done, I can show the fans my appreciation for coming out.
I’ll let you go with this, Andre, we all called it 24/7. This was one of the highest publicized part of your career. How are you dealing with these cameras, man? Is it just any other fight, or is it maybe a little different and getting used to?
I’ll be honest, I mean, I think being in the Super Six, the cameras, and that tournament going on for as long as it did, I probably had more cameras and more responsibilities from that standpoint. We’ve been here before in term of having the cameras. We’ve still got to stay focused and get our work in, it’s just being documented. They were in and out. I think the show turned out to be great, and God willing, I look forward to being back on 24/7 real soon.
Dan Rafael, ESPN.com
Andre, first off, one of the reasons, I guess, that you haven’t fought since you won the Super Six at the end of last year, part of the reason anyway, was because you had that hand injury that you had before the Froch fight. You gutted out the Froch fight, got the win, let the hand get better. I’m curious, how is the left hand?
My hand is fine. I’ve had zero hand problems, period in this camp. In previous camps, I’ve wrapped my own hands and did a pretty good job, but I’ve taken the time to have someone, Robert Garcia, here in the Bay area, wrap my hands every day and it’s had a tremendous effect on my hands in terms of not having any injuries, but that specific injury, it’s fine. I’ve had no problems.
Here in the Bay area.
I want to make sure I didn’t too confused there. Virgil, have you noticed any problems?
No. There’s absolutely no problems with the hand at all, it’s strong. We did the proper thing to rehabilitate it, the proper rest and the proper rehabilitation exercises. The hand has presented no problem at all.
Okay. That’s good to hear. Also Andre, I was wondering when we were talking with Chad a little while ago, he talked about the fact that he’s coming down to 168 to fight you for your championship, addressed the questions about the ease or difficulties in which he might have of making that weight so there was no problem. He basically said, I asked him, “Is this a one-and-done, come to 68 and see what you can do, and then whatever the outcome, go back and continue to defend the Light Heavyweight title?”
I wonder from your point of view-this fight is taking place in your weight division, 168 where you’re the champion, but I wonder, do you think that in the future you can fight successfully at 175 or could you be a guy that could go back and forth between those weight divisions, and more or less just sort of look for-if there’s a big fight for you at 175 take that opportunity or stick around at 168 if some other big opportunity comes up?
Whenever the time comes then I definitely want to go up and be a multi-divisional champion. I’m going to be real careful about going back and forth, I think sometimes guys get in trouble with that. Once I go up and build my body up to be 175 pounds, I’ll probably stay there, and I probably won’t come back down.
So, do you see yourself then having a few more good years left at 168 where there’s still some good guys out there?
It’s hard to say how long it is. I mean, when I came into the professional ranks and slowly made my way down to 160, it was kind of an abrupt decision. Virg and I were on the same page. It was after, I forgot what fight it was, and we were both on the same page and we hadn’t even talked. We just got on the phone one day and said, “Man, it’s time to go up.” So, I think sometime the thought happens. I don’t know how many more fights, how many more years I have at 68, but we think going up in weight, I don’t want to say it’s going to come sooner than later, but I think it’s around the corner.
Dan Goossen, can you address that from your point of view as the promoter about where you think you can have great success with Andre. Like he just mentioned, maybe staying at 168 for a while longer, maybe going at some point to 75, not wanting to go back and forth between the weight classes?
I’ve always been a true believer, Dan, that those are decisions with the fighters and the trainer. Andre knows the sacrifices that he has to make to make a certain weight and one of the things you don’t want to do is give them any anchors around their neck to say, “You got to weigh at 168 because that’s the better division.” For his health, for his safety, for his pure ability to bring out the best in himself physically, it’s wherever his weight lies. So, those are decisions I leave in the hands of Andre and Virgil. They’re the pros at that.
Thank you. Andre, one other question, I’m wondering, when you were presented with this fight as a possibility, and the discussion then became, okay, well what weight class are we going to do this in? Because you’re the champion in your weight division and he’s the champion in his weight division. Some guys would have opted for a catch weight. It’s more common for the smaller guy to go up and challenge the bigger guy. It is a little more unusual for the bigger guy to come down a weight class.
How was it that you wound up getting the fight in the weight class that you wanted it? Even though he said, as he talked about earlier that when he was on the HBO interview after one of his fights, he did say that he would go to 168, but there’s a difference between saying to a camera and actually signing a contract.
I think first and foremost, he shouldn’t have said it. That’s Negotiating 101. He negotiated against himself when he said that, first of all. Second of all, I personally never demanded a weight. Now, you have to understand that the promoters, they talk and I’m sure Dan and Gary had initial discussions probably before, I don’t know, but probably before Bernard Hopkins. I’m not privvy to every conversation.
Dan brings back what he needs to bring back, but in terms of me demanding 170, that never happened. As far as I’m concerned, when I sat on my couch, and I heard him say what he said, the fight was signed, sealed, and delivered at that weight. It was never brought to me in terms of what weight do you want it to be at. It was a foregone conclusion. For him to say that on national television, then double back, and say, “Oh, we wanted 170.” That’s a contradiction of what he said in the post-fight interview. Why would you say that and then try to go back and get a catch weight? Well, it doesn’t work like that. This is business.
Okay. Andre, so your point of view is that if this fight was going to be for your title, it was 168 maximum, if it was going to be for his title, it would’ve been a 175 maximum, no in between catch-weight stuff.
I didn’t even get a chance to get that far. I wasn’t ruling out a catch weight and I didn’t demand it to be at 68. I was presented something, and I accepted it and that’s as far as it went.
Okay. So the only thing you ever gave your promoter was 168?
Okay. Which means that your promoter did a good job negotiating your fight, I guess. Congratulations.
But we’re not apologizing for that. No.
Exactly. All right. I just wanted to clear that up. Thank you, Andre. I look forward to seeing you next week. Thanks, Virgil.
Colin Seymour, Examiner.com
Andre, you were talking about your respect for Dawson. Last week you mentioned that you don’t really think that the Dawson people have that much respect for you. Can you elaborate on that? What it is they’re not reckoning with?
Well, first of all let me just clarify, when I say I respect him, I mean I’m realistic about what I’m coming up against. Sometimes guys, for whatever reason, it’s almost like they refuse to see the strengths of their opponent and what their opponent does well, and that’s one thing we do in this camp, is we give guys credit where credit is due. If they do something well or if they do a combination of things well, we have to acknowledge them because that’s what we’re facing. We’re not going to tear a guy down or anything like that. If anything, we’ll give them more credit than they deserve just so we prepare mentally and physically the right way.
But, what I alluded to in terms of his side and his team is, once you’re around the sport a long time, you can just be around a person for a short period time and you can tell if a guy is intimidated, if a guy is respectful, is confident. I just don’t think that they’re really giving us much credit. I think they’re giving us some superficial praise because they have to, but when they turn on the tape or the DVD or whatever they’re watching, it jumps out at them and that’s fine because this is not the first time that I’ve had has happened. I actually like it. I love to not get the respect that I deserve prior to, because it just keeps you in the right frame of mind going into a fight and you have that chip on your shoulder to prove otherwise.
It will be fun to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing you this week. Thank you.
Eddie Goldman, No Holds Barred
Thank you very much. Hello, everybody. Andre, in this fight, we have a champion versus champion fight and we know the accomplishments and the records of both of you. Can you tell us what you think what your advantages are? Why you think you’re going to win this fight?
I don’t know. I think I’ll kind of leave that for you guys to kind of talk about. That’s tough. Sometimes these questions, it’s tough to give you one thing and say, I’m going to win because of this. I mean, I’m just a competitor, I’m in great shape, and whether it’s Chad Dawson or whether it’s somebody else, I hate to be mundane about my responses, but you’ve got to get the job done and that’s what we’re prepared to do-whatever it takes to get the job done. I think the fans are going to see several dimensions come September 8th from me and my team and I’m just looking forward to it, but it’s hard to give you reason why I’m going to win. I’m just ready to go.
In the past, you’ve described yourself sort of as a chameleon who adapts his style to other fighters. Can you give us any hint what we can expect against Dawson? Is he going to have a height advantage, southpaw, and all of that?
Well, I just think that where they’ve gauged me and what they have me in their minds, I just think it’s going to be different, from the speed, to the strength, to the power. If you let them tell it, they got every advantage in the book and that’s just not a reality. He can have the height and the reach advantage, I’m not going to argue that, but when they say they’re bigger, they’re faster, they’re stronger I just think they’re going to realize very quickly that’s not the case.
Last thing, Virgil. Can you explain why you think that Andre has the advantages in this fight?
I think he pretty much covered it all. You can only go on feedback until the actual fight starts. Again, as he says, to let the Dawson camp say that they have all the advantages, so, I would say just in that sense itself, we have an advantage in him having all the advantages. So, I’ll take that advantage. I’ll take my advantage and you having all the advantages and then we can smooth it out from then on.
So, again, like you said the height and reach is a given, although the height is really in the length of his neck and not true height, it’s the length of his neck, and reach has never been a significant factor in boxing in my book and a lot of other books. It’s distance and range, but he can have those. But, if I had to say one advantage is that it’s our disadvantage, that’s our advantage, being at a disadvantage in there and then I’ll take that.
Robert Hough, Fightnews.com
Looking around at BoxFact, Andre, I had seen that by my math, this is going to be the longest layoff of your pro career, and I wondered if when you got into camp and perhaps subsequent to that, you noticed anything different being a little bit off the rhythm you had established in the years previous to that?
Things were horrible, man. I was rusty, my sparring partners were working me every day, and I was on the verge of cancelling this fight, man. I cannot be off this long ever again.
Seriously? I mean did you feel any rust or just a little bit different to get out of the rhythm you had established.
No. I feel fine. Everything is good. I think if you really look at it. I think with the knee injury-this may have been the longest layoff by a month or something like that, but I’ve had six, seven, and eight-month layoffs. They’re not ideal, but they happen for various reasons. Just like in the ring when I say you got to find a way to get it done, I mean, I have a responsibility as a fighter to live the sport, to live it out every day. Just because I’m off, it doesn’t mean that I have to let my body go, it doesn’t mean that I abuse my body, and that I’m not focused on boxing.
I literally think about this sport every day whether I have a layoff or not. I just think those little things of just always having your mind on the sport, obviously, I’m not training at a training camp level, but I’m always sharpening my tools. I try to keep my body at a certain level in terms of fitness and just having age on my side is a big deal, too.
So, we haven’t noticed anything. There hasn’t been any problems, and this layoff is a non-issue. If anything, it’s done me some good because I trained really, really hard and that takes a toll on the body, but then you also have the Super Six and the toll that that took. And coming off of that, I think it was a good thing. I think it was a good thing even though it wasn’t ideal, I think it was good that I was able to get that rest, both mentally and physically.
We talked in Oakland after the Froch fight, obviously, there was the hand, you said that you just sort of physically a little chewed up and worn down, and the mental side of it and your fourth child coming along. Your oldest daughter on 24/7 was utterly hysterical, by the way.
Yes, she “stole the show.”
Yes. She was the star of that show, maybe. But, you’ve always talked about how you have the laser focus on the fight that’s right in front of you, but nonetheless, you’ve got this awareness of the fighters in or near your weight. After Froch, was Dawson on your radar? Was it something that you, Virgil, and Dan were talking about seriously? Did it come up as sort of a surprise? Is it an opportunity you looked at? Can you talk some about that?
Really, neither. I mean, he wasn’t on my radar in terms of me gunning for him and it didn’t come as a surprise. I say that because anybody that’s close or near to my weight class, there’s a possibility we may get it on or we may fight someday. So, Chad has always been at 75 or started at 68 and went to 75.
He’s always made comments and I recognize those comments about how easy it was to make 168, so it was definitely inevitable one day that it was going to happen. But no, it was presented after the Super Six, after a couple months of rest and some people said, why don’t you fight Dawson? And we said, “Why not. He’s a great fighter-let’s get it on and let the best man win.”
Kelly Okay. Dan, do you want to make any closing comments? We are at the end of this call.
Well, I do want to thank Ken Hershman, Mark Taffet, and Gary Davis of HBO. They’ve put a lot of marketing muscle into this event and for good reason. They, no slight to Chad Dawson, but Andre Ward is utilizing this event, this bout. Robert just asked a question here, I remember sitting after the Froch fight, Andre said to Bute, “Fight someone.” Okay. And Andre’s goal here as Virgil and James Prince, Antonio Leonard- it’s about fighting the best out there.
This is what boxing needs. This is what Ward thrives on and this is what Andre Ward’s done since he took on the challenge of the Super Six when everyone thought we were crazy to do it. Chad Dawson’s got a lot of good names on his resume. All it does is build up Andre Ward to that next level-that next step and HBO recognizes that Andre does, his camp does, we all do, and September 8th, we’re looking forward to a great event.
One other thing I’m going to touch on that Virgil did and Andre did-one thing I’ve been saying about Andre, he’s a fighter. Okay, whenever I hear anybody say anything about him not being a fighter or not being exciting-he’s very exciting because he fights and he’ll continue to fight because that’s what he loves to do. That doesn’t mean he sticks his chin out there, but he goes out there and takes control.
Someone asked Chad Dawson a question today on this conference call about what are you going to do when that bell starts the fight, and he had some vanilla answer, he didn’t really say anything. Well, I’ll tell you what Andre Ward will do, and Andre, if I’m incorrect here you tell me, but he does what he always does, right when that bell rings, he’ll be out there fighting, taking control of that fight.
Anyway, I do want to thank everyone for getting on. It’s been a great promotion, not only locally in the Bay area, but also throughout the United States. Andre, great job. Virgil, thank you again.
About: “Ward vs. Dawson – World Champions – Made In America”
Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson World Championship showdown, set to take place September 8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The co-feature will see WBC Champion Antonio DeMarco battle John “The Gladiator” Molina Jr. in a 12-round fight for the WBC Lightweight title. Both bouts will be televised live on HBO® World Championship Boxing at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT.
The event is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Gary Shaw Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Productions and SOG Promotions and sponsored by Corona, City of Oakland, Azad Watches and 95.7 The Game.
Tickets priced at $300, $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25 and are available for purchase online at www.oraclearena.com, www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at the ORACLE Arena box office.