Monday, December 11, 2023  |


Weekend Review: Ward reaches new heights

Fighters Network


Andre Ward: We’ve become accustomed to seeing Ward reduce world-class opponents to what borders on helpless prey. He dominated elite super middleweights Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, two fights that proved beyond doubt that Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) is a special talent. On Saturday, he outdid himself. THE RING 168-pound champion seized control of his fight against Chad Dawson late in the third round, put the bigger man down three times and forced him to quit in the 10th round, clearly the best performance in Ward’s still-young career. No one can break down an opponent like he can. The only thing missing was the excitement factor. Methodically dismantling someone is always impressive but not always thrilling. Saturday was thrilling. If this knockout thing is now part of Ward’s repertoire, he could become a truly great fighter.


Chad Dawson: Dawson shouldn’t be too hard on himself. THE RING light heavyweight champion simply ran into an opponent with rare ability; at the moment, it seems no one can compete with Ward. Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs) seemed to come to that realization when he told referee Steve Smoger that he was finished in the final round. He should be praised for stating afterward that fighting at 168 pounds played no role in his defeat. Common sense says otherwise, though. Dawson said he had difficulty getting his punches off, which might’ve been the result of too much weight loss. Fighters generally shouldn’t drop to a lower weight class. That factor, combined with a fighter of Ward’s ability, was a disaster waiting to happen. Dawson will stay at light heavyweight, where he’ll be difficult opponent for anyone he fights. As long as it isn’t Ward.


Antonio DeMarco: The show staged by DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) on the Ward-Dawson undercard didn’t last long but certainly was dramatic. The WBC lightweight titleholder essentially ended his title defense against John Molina with two lefts, one that hurt him less than 30 seconds into the fight and another during a wild exchange that in effect ended the fight at 44 seconds. Referee stopped the action with Molina taking unanswered blows in the corner. For DeMarco, it was a great night. Quick knockouts always add intrigue to reputation of a fighter. In other words, the Mexican just became more popular. For the fans, who had high hopes that they would see an entertaining brawl, it was a disappointment. Who would’ve thought that Ward-Dawson would prove to be more fulfilling in terms of action than DeMarco-Molina?


John Molina: Imagine you work your entire adult life for an opportunity such as the one Molina received on Saturday and it is all over in seconds. Nightmare. DeMarco seemed to be a good opponent for Molina, the kind who comes to you and can be hit. And Molina has the punching power to hurt anyone. Of course, none of that came into play because of DeMarco’s big left hand and the ensuing onslaught. Molina (24-2, 19 KOs) finished the fight with DeMarco firing away as Molina sat on the bottom rope with his hands over his face, an image that would never sit well with a proud fighter like Molina. Does this prove that he doesn’t have the goods to be an elite fighter?  Not necessarily. But he’s going to have to come back with some convincing victories over good opponents to erase what happened on Saturday night. That’s a tough mission.


The Klitschkos: The last time one of the Klitschko brothers lost was April 10, 2004, when Wladimir was stopped by Lamon Brewster in five rounds. Since that date, Wladimir and Vitali are a combined 28-0, with 21 knockouts. And of all those fights, only Wladimir’s technical-decision victory over DaVarryl Williamson immediately following the Brewster KO and his first fight against Sam Peter were close. The brothers’ domination has been complete for eight solid years. And, of course, Lebanese-German Manuel Charr wasn’t going buck the trend against Vitali (45-2, 41 KOs) on Saturday in Moscow. Charr came in with a good record (21-0, 11 KOs) but limited ability and no experience against an elite heavyweight. He lost because of a cut in the fourth round, which probably saved him from a beating. Next up: Wladimir faces unbeaten Mariusz Wach on Nov. 10. Expect the same old story.


Promoter Gary Shaw: ”I want to tell you as Chad Dawson’s promoter that Andre Ward is one of the best fighters I’ve ever seen.”