Connect with us

Featured Articles

Andre Ward Is Pound for Pound No. 1

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

Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Published

on

Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

Published

on

Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

Published

on

Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Trending