Connect with us

Featured Articles

Andre Ward Is Pound for Pound No. 1

Avatar

Published

on

WardDawson TJHogan3Here is Ward negating the Dawson jab, just one of the brilliant strategies and tactics and tricks he used in his dominant win Saturday. (Hogan)

It's been a long time coming. Sixteen years to be exact, but it looks like we're going to have to wait awhile longer. The last time it happened, he was just 12 years-old. It's never come close to happening since. In a sport where styles are paramount, Andre Ward's uncanny ability to adapt to any given situation showed yet again why he has to be considered the world's most unbeatable fighter at the moment, and why the last time he lost, he didn't even shave.

Chad Dawson –an athletic, fast, six-foot two inch southpaw– was no slouch. But on Saturday night in Las vegas, he was no match.

The opening two rounds saw little much happen. One could make the case Dawson took them both. However, everything changed for good in the third. Ward landed a straight right, left hook combination that sent the light heavyweight champion down to the canvas. Dawson rose to beat the count, his confidence didn't. He never recovered.

Twice more Dawson tasted the canvas, the third and final time in the tenth. That was enough for Dawson, “No mas” he told referee Steve Smoger. A systematic beating drew them out, not embarrassment. But Chad Dawson need not feel ashamed or embarrassed. He lost to a special fighter who had just painted his masterpiece. Still the light-heavyweight champion of the world, Dawson would likely be a betting favourite against every other light-heavyweight in the world. We mustn't forget neither, that it was HE who took the bigger risk here by choosing to fight in his opponent's home town as well as at his opponent's desired and optimum weight.

Let's be honest though. Would it have really made that much difference had this fight took place in any other domain? Chad Dawson came across a fighter Saturday night who not only has the potential to be great, but an all-time great.

The best light-heavyweight in the world was soundly beaten by the best super-middleweight in the world. I don't think seven pounds north or south for either fighter would have changed the outcome that much. Styles make fights, and Ward's capacity to tailor his, in order to neutralize his opponent's, was the real reason why Chad Dawson was deconstructed on Saturday night. Ward was clearly the better man when it came to strategy. Every battle throughout history will have had a plan of attack laid out prior to it taking place. Boxing is no different. Both Ward and Dawson had, what they believed to be, the blueprint on how to solve each other's styles. Here's the difference. Ward carried his blueprint to the ring so that he could make adjustments as the battle was unfolding. Just when an opponent seems comfortable with what's going on,Ward transforms and does something different. Most of the time, it's just a subtle change, but it's enough to disrupt what his opponent is doing. Andre Ward is a kaleidoscope. Trying to prepare for his multi-dimensional approach to boxing is nigh on impossible for his opponents.

Here is what I thought Andre Ward did really well Saturday night.

#1. Unorthodox movement:

When an orthodox fighter faces a southpaw, he's usually looking to get his lead foot outside of the southpaw's lead foot, by moving to his left and away from the southpaw's power left. Dawson, a converted southpaw, carries his power in his right hand, his dominant hand. This lead to Ward's unconventional movement for an orthodox fighter against a southpaw. By stepping to his right, and inside of Dawson's right hand, Ward had nullified Dawson's dominant hand threat. For Dawson to have any chance of winning the fight, he had to get his jab working. It was no coincidence that he barely threw it. Ward's intelligent footwork and ring smarts enabled him to get on the inside of Dawson's right hand. If you look at the knockdown in the fourth round, you'll see Ward in what is generally a bad position against the southpaw. But because Ward knew that Dawson is right handed, and doesn't really throw the straight left as say, Manny Pacquiao does, he could afford to move onto Dawson's left shoulder because he knew that there wasn't any real danger there. This is what resulted in Ward being a marksman from strange angles with the left hook all night long.

#2. Eliminating the jab.

Continuing on from point #1, by moving to his right, and diagonally away from Dawson, Ward had forced Dawson into becoming the aggressor, something that the British announcers failed to pick up on. They also failed to see what had stymied Dawson's jab. If you have a chance to look at the fight again, you'll see that in the first two rounds, many minutes went by with Ward seemingly pawing with the jab. This was an illusion. What Ward was really doing was taking away the southpaw jab of Dawson. With both fighter's lead hands lined up with one another, Ward was able to perform a kind of parry, preventing the jab from even being thrown. Dawson couldn't seem to figure out why Ward was never in position to be hit with the southpaw jab. Ward's unconventional movement, along with his lead hand out in front and in line with Dawson's lead hand, was the answer.

#3. From the outside.

For me, this was the key to Ward's success Saturday night. If any of you read my pre-fight breakdown, you'll notice that I mentioned the Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal fight. What Pascal was able to expose in Dawson was a flaw in the way he defends himself. If a fighter in right in front of Dawson, throwing conventional punches, then Dawson sees everything and his defense becomes almost impenetrable. If a fighter is out of range before coming in with unorthodox power leads like straight rights and left hooks, then Dawson becomes touchable, as I feel he's unable to defend whilst being the attacker. Dawson is similar to Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, in that he defends with his feet planted, using upper body movement. Dawson will dip and bend at the waist in order to avoid blows. It's not often you see him taking a step back. This is what really hurt him Saturday night. Look at the shots that Mosley hurt Mayweather with, that Pacquiao scored the first knockdown of Cotto with, that Roy Jones peppered James Toney with, what Jean Pascal occupied Chad Dawson with and what Andre Ward knocked down Dawson in the third round with. They all look the same –power shots thrown low then high, forcing the opponent into adjusting their guard. Ward's right leads and left hooks, thrown in alternating patterns, downstairs and up, completely negated Dawson's defense. What was worse for Dawson though, was by being the aggressor and then having to defend, he found himself walking onto Ward's shots. Chad Dawson, a counter puncher, had no answer for Andre Ward's attacks on Saturday as he was advancing.

Dawson struggles to blend defense and attack if he's made to be the aggressor. This was the reason Ward always appeared to get off first, which in turn, lead to Dawson being on the defensive all night long. Dawson's dreadful punchstat numbers reflect this perfectly.

#4. On the inside.

Ward's in-fighting skills are well documented. We know he's very strong and very physical, but he's also extremely skilled at this range. If you look at the occasions when the fight took place on the inside, you'll see exactly what I mean. Notice how Ward was always able to lock an arm up, while having his left hand free. Ward's hooks and uppercuts with the left hand last really took a lot out of Dawson. Also, look how Ward was always conscious of a Dawson punch getting through in close. Ward kept his glove held high and tight to his head as he was throwing away with his free hand. Notice how you never see Ward bombing away wildly with both hands on the inside. Ward always remains defensively responsible at close quarters. Also, look at Ward's uppercuts and hooks in close. His ability to throw them so short and with so little back lift really is of the highest order.

#5. The feint.

Ward's ability to feint his opponent out of position or into a defensive position, is one of the ways in which he always appears to be one step ahead of his opponent. Dawson was constantly being off set by Ward's and head and shoulder feints. I was reminded of Roberto Duran's feinting masterclass against Carlos Palomino, in that both Palomino and Dawson had no idea what was coming next.By mastering the art of feinting, a fighter doesn't have to search for too long to find openings. Again, it's one of the reasons Ward is so accurate with his punches. He knows exactly where his shots are going to be placed because he's aware of how different fighters react to different feints. Dawson, a defensive Philly shell style counter-puncher, was predictable on defense.

I don't want to take anything away from Andre Ward and neither should anyone else. Yes, Dawson's weight loss may have been a factor, but as was mentioned here earlier, Ward's versatility was what really dominated the fight. As was the case in the Carl Froch fight, we saw just about every single boxing nuance one can think of –out-fighting, in-fighting, combination punching, body punching, defense, — performed at an extremely high level from Ward. How many fighters can you think of that are able to do so many things as well as Ward can? With each passing fight, it's becoming increasingly difficult to argue against Andre Ward being the best fighter, pound for pound in the world. I for one am sick of finding reasons to say that he isn't.

So what's next for both fighters?

Chad Dawson, now 32-2 {17} will surely travel back up to light-heavyweight where decent challenges await. Personally, I think Mikkel Kessler would make for a compelling fight. As for Andre Ward, now 26-0 {14} a rematch with Dawson at light-heavyweight to me seems pointless. No matter how you slice it, Ward was simply too physical, too smart and too good for Chad Dawson. My own feelings are that Ward will continue at 168 pounds for the time being. Sergio Martinez has already voiced that middleweight is as high as he'll go, while Chavez Jr will be lucky if he's on the receiving end of anything other than a comprehensive beating by the same man next weekend. Gennady Golovkin would probably jump at the chance to face Ward, but realistically, he's a lot smaller than Ward, who is actually one of the bigger men at 168 pounds. I can't see anyone below 168 pounds being good enough to threaten Ward's undefeated streak, can you? Andre Dirrell is a fighter who may ask some questions, with his athleticism and speed, but I don't see how he will be able to hang with Ward on the inside. Ward's strength would be far too much for Dirrell by my estimation.

Who knows what the future may hold? Andre Ward has had his opponents laid out for him for quite some time now, what with the Super Six tournament and Dawson's public challenge, so it will be interesting to see just what his next intentions are. One thing's for certain. Whoever it is, they will be faced with the unenviable task of trying to come up with a gameplan for a fighter whose strategical capabilities are limitless. Thinking back, I can't think of another fighter who has managed to win with the same level of dominance as Ward, other than Roy Jones when he was on top back in the nineties. And let's face it, Ward is currently doing it against sterner opposition too. While we're on the subject of Jones, who eventually went on to claim a portion of the heavyweight title after dominating at 168 pounds, I'll leave you with this:

With his ring smarts, quickness and ability to get inside and know what to do there, Andre Ward would have produced a better effort against Vitali Klitschko than what Manuel Charr managed on Saturday. And that readers, is a fact. The Klitschkos won't be around for too much longer….maybe down the road a crack at a smaller heavyweight champion is plausible?

Comment on this article

Featured Articles

Jonathan Esquivel Remains Unbeaten and Raquel Miller Wins NABF Title

David A. Avila

Published

on

HAWAIIAN GARDENS, Calif.-Undefeated Jonathan Esquivel attracted a large and lively crowd and they weren’t disappointed in his knockout win over Tavoris Teague on Saturday.

Esquivel (10-0, 9 KOs) showed the large contingent of fans that sold out the Hawaiian Gardens Casino that the tricky Teague (6-27-4) could not compete for four full rounds in their super middleweight clash.

The fight ended at 2:11 of the fourth when Teague was overwhelmed by Esquivel but remained standing up as referee Zachary Young ended the fight.

Esquivel, who lives in nearby Santa Ana, California, brought more than 200 fans and they saw him struggle a bit with Teague, but after two flat rounds, the southpaw began finding the range and unleashed a barrage of punches that Teague could not avoid. The end came suddenly but the Orange County fighter remains with an unblemished record.

NABF Female Title

Female middleweight contenders headed the main event and former Olympic alternate Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller (9-0, 4 KOs) showed her professional game is intact with a knockout win over veteran Erin Toughill (7-5-1) to win the vacant NABF middleweight title.

Miller didn’t waste time and knocked Toughill down in the first exchange with a short right cross that dropped the veteran fighter who had nearly toppled middleweight contender Maricela Cornejo in her last ring appearance.

Speed was her greatest asset and Miller used it to full advantage as she jabbed her way through Toughill’s guard and landed quick three-punch combinations. For the first three rounds Miller was in full control.

Around the fourth round Miller seemed in cruise mode when Toughill rammed several rights against her foe and followed up with more right crosses. All seemed to land flush and Miller was moved backwards with the blows. Though Toughill did not land more punches than Miller, the solid blows were enough to win her first round.

In the fifth round Toughill seemed confident that she had discovered the remedy for Miller’s speedy punches and kept ramming rights through the guard. Again Toughill seemed to be able to land the more effective blows, but though they landed they didn’t seem to hurt Miller, but rather perplexed her.

Miller seemed more intent to reverse the momentum and launched a quick solid three-punch combination on Toughill who seemed surprised by the blows. After absorbing a Miller right Toughill retaliated with a left hook and another left hook. The change of pace seemed to keep Miller off balance but toward the end of the sixth round a screaming left jab connected followed by a solid one-two combination. Miller had quickly regained the momentum.

The seventh round saw both fighters race toward each other with Miller connecting with a lead right that snapped Toughill’s head back. Miller followed up quickly with a snapping jab, jab and left hook that caught Toughill perfectly and dropped her immediately to the floor. She beat the count but when referee Zachary Young asked her to put her hands up:

“She gave me a strange look and I had to end it,” said Young of Toughill’s response.

When asked what punch caused the knockout Miller was unsure.

“I don’t remember what punch I used, I’m just excited to win the title,” said Miller who won by knockout at 1:01 of the seventh round.

Miller wins the NABF middleweight title and becomes an automatic contender for the WBC version of the middleweight world title. Claressa Shields is the undisputed middleweight world champion and holds the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO world titles.

“I’m all about smooth boxing but I can bang if I have to,” said Miller.

Yes she can.

Other Bout

Super middleweights Kenny Quach (0-1-1) and Johnny Cisneros (0-0-1) ended in a draw after four closely fought rounds. Cisneros fights out of Riverside and was making his pro debut. Quach fights out of Santa Ana, Calif.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Fast Results from Brooklyn: Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Deontay Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale figures to be entertaining for as long as it lasts said one pundit and he could not have been more prescient. Entertaining it was although if you were distracted you likely missed it. It was all over in 137 seconds

Wilder, making the ninth defense of his WBC world heavyweight title, stunned Breazeale with a big right hand early in the contest but then walked into a wild right hand by Breazeale and was himself momentarily stunned. He had enough presence of mind, however, to keep his cannon of a right hand unholstered and a few moments later he unleashed it again, leaving poor Breazeale flat on his back. Breazeale made it to his feet, seemingly as referee Harvey Dock reached the count of “10,” but he was in dire straits and the bout was waived it off.

This was the same Dominic Breazeale who lasted into the seventh round with Anthony Joshua not quite two years ago. As for Wilder, he remains undefeated with his 40th knockout in 42 pro starts and a match between him and Joshua or a rematch with Tyson Fury looms bigger than ever.

Co-Feature

WBC world featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. successfully defended his title and completed the hat trick for the Russell Brothers with a fifth round stoppage of Spain’s Kiko Martinez. Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) was just too fast for the Spaniard and was on his way to a comfortable win on points when the fight was waived off at the suggestion of the ring physician because of a bad cut over Martinez’s left eye. A former IBF 122-pound champion, Martinez (37-9-2) is now 1-4 in world title fights.

Undercard

In the first of the TV fights, North Las Vegas junior welterweight Juan Heraldez remained unbeaten but barely as he was held to a draw by former IBF 130-pound world title-holder Argenis Mendez. One judge had it 97-73 for Mendez but the others had it even. Heraldez (16-0-1) was one of four Mayweather Promotions fighters on the card. Mendez, from Yonkers, New York, via the Dominican Republic, was held to a draw in a second straight fight, bringing his record to 25-5-3.

A previous draw ensued in an 8-round contest between 30-something heavyweights, Robert Alfonso (18-0-1) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1). Alfonso, a Cuban defector and ex-Olympian who trains with Wilder in Tuscaloosa, weighed in at 254, giving him a 35-pound weight advantage. He had Kiladze fighting off his back foot for much of the contest, but the LA-based fighter from the Republic of Georgia snuck in enough punches to stem a 3-fight losing streak.

Bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell moved to 14-0 with a six-round technical decision over Tijuana’s Saul Hernandez (13-13-1). A clash of heads in the sixth round left the Mexican disoriented and the bout went to the cards where Antonio won by scores of 59-55 and 60-54 twice. Hernandez didn’t figure to go the distance. In his last three fights, he fattened up his record against opponents who were a combined 0-30.

In a fight slated for eight rounds, junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell improved to 9-0 (9) with a fourth round stoppage of Nicaragua’s Marcos Mojica (16-4-2) who had the misfortune of being thrust against a former Olympian in a second straight bout. Mojica was on the canvas twice before the referee intervened. He lasted longer than any of Russell’s previous opponents, none of whom lasted beyond three frames.

Brooklyn-born Richardson Hitchins, who represented Haiti in the 2016 Olympics, improved to 9-0 (5) when Columbia’s Alejandro Munero (4-2-3) was unable to answer the bell for round four. The 21-year-old Hitchins was making his eighth appearance at Barclays.

Dylan Price, a 20-year-old bantamweight from Sicklerville, NJ, improved to 8-0 when the corner of Mexico’s Manuel Manzo (4-7-2) stopped the one-sided beatdown midway through the sixth round.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

 

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

The Tartan Tornado and the Monster Advance in the World Boxing Super Series

Arne K. Lang

Published

on

World Boxing Super Series

Semifinal matchups in the 118- and 140-pound tournaments of the World Boxing Super Series played out today, May 18, at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. All four participants entered the day undefeated.

In the main go, junior welterweight Josh Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, delighted the home folks by winning a unanimous decision over Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk. Fighting in the same arena where he won Commonwealth Gold in 2014, Taylor outpointed Baranchyk on scores of 117-109 and 115-111 twice.

Taylor had an anxious moment in the fifth round when Baranchyk landed three unanswered punches that momentarily left Taylor on shaky legs. But in the very next frame, Taylor came up big, knocking Baranchyk to the canvas twice, first with a right hook and then a left to the head followed by a left to the body.

Baranchyk, who pepped for this fight at Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood, recuperated nicely. Taylor could have played it safe by going on his bicycle in the final round, but he elected to trade with Baranchyk who finished strong, although clearly behind on the cards.

With the victory, Josh Taylor improved to 15-0 and moves on to a contest with Regis Prograis, a bout that will likely land in Glasgow and, if so, will be the biggest fight ever in Scotland. Baranchyk, who was born in Russia but has been residing in Oklahoma, declined to 19-1

The Monster

In the co-feature, Yokohama’s baby-faced Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) showed that he belongs on everyone’s pound-for-pound list with a second round blast-out of Puerto Rico’s previously undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1). After a fairly even first round, Inoue lowered the boom in the second, decking Rodriguez three times to force an intervention. At stake were the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles. With the win, Inoue earned a date with Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire who was in the building.

Inoue scored his first knockdown with a left hook and that spelled the beginning of the end for Rodriguez. In his previous two bouts, Inoue demolished title-holders Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano in the opening round. If he gets past Donaire – and he will be heavily favored – he will be the odds-on choice to be named the 2019 Fighter of the Year.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

 

Continue Reading

Trending