Boxing


Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson – At What Weight Should They Fight?

by Geoffrey Ciani - It appears that super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) will likely be taking on the light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) some time later this year. With no real viable options at their own weight classes, Dawson recently called out Ward following his April 28 victory over Bernard Hopkins. In publicly issuing the challenge Dawson stated that it did not matter what weight the bout took place at, even insisting that he would be willing to drop down to 168 to make the fight happen. This has since been a hot topic of debate among boxing fans. What weight should the fight take place at? There are effectively four schools of thought at play. Let us quickly examine each.

1. The Fight Should Take Place at 168
Chad Dawson is the one who called Andre Ward out and said he was willing to do the fight at 168. Ward accepted his challenge. If Dawson wanted the fight at 175 then he should not have publicly stated that he would be willing to venture south.

2. The Fight Should Take Place at 175
Even though Dawson issued the challenge, the light heavyweight division still represents a more prestigious weight class with a far richer history. Ward should move up and face Chad at a weight that he is comfortable with so that he will not be weight drained. After all, Ward was a Gold Medalist at 178 in the Olympics.

3. Compromise With a Catch-Weight
That only seems fair! Have them meet in the middle this way neither champion has an inherent advantage over the other.

4. Who Cares?
In this case it is not about weight. It is about seeing two technically sound elite fighters engage in a battle of strategies, adjustments, and counter-adjustments. Chad can make 168 just as easily as Andre can make 175. The better skilled fighter will win regardless of where the fight takes place.

***

All of these viewpoints are valid. So what do the fans think of it? To get a sense for this, a recent poll on the East Side Boxing Forum asked the following question:

“What weight would you ideally like to see Ward-Dawson fought at?”

33 fans responded to the poll, and 25 (or 75.8%) of those who participated said it should be at 175. The general consensus seems to be that unless the fight takes place at 175 Dawson’s performance will be compromised. Some claim it would cause Dawson to lose the fight. Others contend it would discredit an impressive Ward victory.

Only 3 (or just over 9%) of the participants polled said they would prefer to see the fight at 168, and another 3 said they would prefer a catch weight with the remaining 2 stating it makes no difference.

Personally I am with the crowd that does not believe it will make much difference. Both Ward and Dawson are elite level champions in the current landscape. Dawson says he can comfortably make 168. His trainer John Scully agrees with him. I see no good reason not to take these two at their word. Beyond that, Ward has already competed north of 175 en route to winning his Gold Medal. So we know he can compete there.

Interestingly enough some fans are even intrigued by the idea of having them meet in a situation where Ward’s super middleweight title and Dawson’s light heavyweight title would both be on the line. While I am personally opposed to this idea, this is something that can give the contest some added appeal to improve its marketability. There is also an historical precedent here. Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Donny Lalonde in 1988 to win the WBC version of both the super middleweight and light heavyweight titles. So this is another angle that could potentially come into play.

At the end of the day whether this fight happens at 175, 168, or somewhere in between does not matter to me. I would simply like to see the fight. Since most fans, however, appear to believe the contest will be viewed as something more legitimate at 175, then perhaps Ward, Dawson, and the powers that be should all take note. These two champions, after all, are battling for legacy when they square off, and the fans are the ones who decide the ultimate verdict on that front.

***

ciani@eastsideboxing.com

Article posted on 14.05.2012



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