Ward KOs Dawson in ten!
Ringside report by David Robinett
Photos by Stephanie Trapp / Trappfotos
Before a raucous crowd Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Andre "S.O.G." Ward, (26-0, 14 KOs), defended his titles with an impressive tenth round TKO over WBC light heavyweight champion "Bad" Chad Dawson, (31-2, 17 KOs), on HBO's Championship Boxing. The end came at 2:45 of round ten when, after suffering his third knockdown of the fight, Dawson told referee Steve Smoger he did not want to continue, prompting Smoger to stop the fight.
With the victory, Ward cemented his status as the most likely eventual successor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at the top of boxing's pound-for-pound lists.
"These kind of fights you have to take risks," explained Ward during his post-fight comments. "You have to take risks to take the prize. I feel like against better competition I rise to the occasion. It might have looked easy, but Chad Dawson was a monster."
Ward was already coming off a string of career-best performances in the Super Six super middleweight tournament, but against the light heavyweight king Ward may have turned in his best performance yet, despite a slow start against the taller, heavier Dawson.
In the first two rounds Ward had noticeable difficulty reaching Dawson, lunging in several times to try and tap Dawson's body and eating counter right hands from Dawson for his trouble. Dawson stood his ground in the center of the ring for the most part as Ward tried to figure out a way inside. However, midway through round three, Ward followed one of those lunging right hands to Dawson's body with a quick left hook that landed flush on Dawson's chin, sending "Bad" Chad to the canvas.
Dawson survived the rest of round three but in round four, Ward landed another, stronger left hook on Dawson's chin that dropped Dawson for a second time. Dawson beat the count again but this time he was seriously hurt, and Ward repeatedly hurt Dawson as he chased him across the ring trying for the knockout. The crowd of nearly 9,000 fans at Oracle Arena roared with the intensity of a jet engine in urging Ward to close the show but Dawson made it to the bell, albeit looking worse for the wear as he headed back to his corner.
By round five, Dawson was no longer standing his ground and Ward assumed the role of stalker, walking Dawson down behind a stiff jab and landing punishing left hands at will. Dawson was able to land his own left hands on Ward in response, but only sporadically and not with enough vigor to change the momentum of the fight. In rounds eight and nine Ward put on a clinic of infighting. During one sequence in round eight when Dawson held Ward's right arm in a clinch, Ward landed three consecutive left uppercuts that violently rocked Dawson's head backwards, causing the crowd to gasp in excitement. Ward had similar success inside during round nine, rocking Dawson with his free hand on several occasions when the fighters clinched.
Ward ended matters in round ten, literally beating Dawson into submission. With less than a minute remaining in the round, Ward landed a left hook that wobbled Dawson's knees. Ward quickly followed up with a four-punch combination that started with a left hook and ended with a straight right hand that caused Dawson to take a knee in capitulation. Dawson jumped back up but as Steve Smoger examined him, Dawson told Smoger "we're done" or words to that effect, prompting Smoger to wave the fight over with 15 seconds remaining in the round.
At the time of the stoppage, Ward was leading on all three scorecards by a virtual shutout, giving up only one round on two of the judge's scorecards. Another measure of Ward's dominance was CompuBox statistics showing that Ward outlanded Dawson 155 to 29.
With the win, it remains to be seen if Ward will stay at super middleweight or look for new challenges in the light heavyweight division. Even Ward says he isn't sure of his future plans at this point. Notably, because this fight was for Ward's title belts, Chad Dawson remains the WBC light heavyweight champion.
DeMarco Blows Away Molina
WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) needed just 44 seconds to annihilate John Molina (24-2, 19 KOs). DeMarco wobbled Molina, then got a referee's stoppage with a merciless barrage of punches.
Before the audience was settled into their seats, DeMarco landed a straight left hand that sent Molina reeling backwards into the corner. DeMarco jumped right on top of Molina, unloading a double-fisted arsenal on the helpless Molina, whose only defense was to crouch down to nearly a sitting position with his hand held in a tight guard over his head. After waiting a few seconds to see if Molina would come out of his crouch, referee Jack Reiss decided to step in and wave the fight over.
The stoppage was somewhat unsatisfying because most of DeMarco's barrage either landed on Molina's guard or over his head, but neither did it appear that Molina was going to come out of his crouch, leaving the referee in a difficult position. Regardless, Molina did nothing to justify the benefit of the doubt, and now approaching age 30 with an embarrassing first-round blowout on his record, he will enter the proverbial crossroads when he returns to the ring while DeMarco will be a leading contender for several big fights, including a matchup with Adrien Broner, whom DeMarco called out (with a little help from Larry Merchant) in his post-fight interview.
Malik Scott Stays Undefeated
Few things are as reliably consistent as death, taxes, and Malik Scott by eight-round unanimous decision. Bowie Tupou, a once-beaten but intriguing prospect from the island nation of Tonga was expected to pose a stiffer challenge for Scott than recent challengers, but the result was another one-sided Scott victory. All Tupou managed to do differently than Scott's recent victims was to lose by unsatisfying TKO rather than an unsatisfying unanimous decision. In round eight of a fight in which he likely lost every round, Tupou complained to the referee that his left elbow was injured, prompting the ringside physician to examine him and immediately stop the fight, to nobody's disappointment. Official time of the stoppage was :52 of round eight.
Nearly every round featured the tall, wiry Scott, (35-0, 12 KOs), keeping Tupou at the end of his jab, with Tupou, (22-2, 16 KOs), leaping forward with wild hooks and lunging jabs to try and land something meaningful, which he did not. Occasionally Scott would counter Tupou coming in with a left hook to the head or body, but mostly Scott would move or slide out of range to reset and rework his jab. The crowd booed the fighters from the second round to the end but in fairness to Scott, who masterfully controlled the tempo and space in the ring, Tupou looked lost and inept and was largely responsible for the lack of action. The fight eerily resembled a Klitschko fight, with the shorter challenger unable to deal with his taller, safety-minded opponent and who becomes resigned to just following the taller fighter around as a human punching bag. Unfortunately for Scott, he doesn't possess the power of the Klitschko brothers, so once it became clear Tupou posed no threat to Scott, the fight lacked the drama of a potential late knockout.
Scott's power deficiency notwithstanding, he very well may be one of America's top heavyweights. Additionally, with his style so closely resembling that of the Klitschko brothers, it should be required that any young fighter wishing to take on a Klitschko first take on Scott to see if they can penetrate the Klitschko defense without the downside of a one-sided Klitschko knockout.
Ricardo Williams Rebounds With a Win!
2000 Olympics silver medalist Ricardo Williams, (20-3, 10 KOs), rebounded from a knockout loss in his last fight to earn a majority decision over Anthony Lenk, (14-2, 7 KOs), in a six-round junior welterweight bout. Two judges scored the bout 58-56 for Williams, with the third judge scoring the fight 57-57. No knockdowns in the bout but good two-way action.
It has been an up-and-down career for Williams, who failed to live up to expectations after medaling at the Sydney Olympics and then spent nearly three years in prison on federal drug trafficking charges. Williams was undefeated in nine fights since his release from prison in 2008 before getting hammered by fringe contender Carson Jones last December.
Williams was looking to rebound Saturday night against the once-beaten Lenk but found himself in against stiff competition early on. The first two rounds were evenly contested between the two southpaws, with Lenk stalking Williams and lunging in to the head and body while Williams would counter Lenk coming in with left and right hooks before scooting out of range. Lenk though was not having difficulty finding Williams and was consistently landing right jabs and hard straight left hands before getting countered. Lenk's corner repeatedly shouted instructions to their man to "walk him down!" and the strategy proved effective initially.
Williams began to get the measure of Lenk in rounds three and four though, effectively timing Lenk coming in before Lenk could get off. Williams punctuated round four with deft four-punch combination featuring three right hands in quick succession followed by a left hook that momentarily stopped Lenk in his tracks.
Williams' class really showed in the final two rounds as he began to load up on his left hand and land it at will on the still-forward moving Lenk. Williams effectively blocked and avoided most of Lenk's incoming in those last rounds and finished strong for the majority decision.
In Other Action
Looking to shake off nearly a year of ring rust, heavyweight Franklin "Yah Yah" Lawrence, (18-2-2, 13 KOs), cruised to a pedestrian TKO over Homero Fonseca, (9-6-3, 2 KOs), at the end of round seven in a scheduled eight-round bout. Lawrence was in control from the opening bell in a bout with little sustained action. In some circles Lawrence is considered one of the better American heavyweights but it was hard to tell in this fight as it was clear Lawrence's objective was simply to get some sparring in a live-fight setting. To his credit, the ample-bellied Fonseca never backed down or flopped to the canvas for a quick payday, but he was unable to muster any threat to Lawrence other than continually moving forward and not allowing Lawrence too much rest between brief, light-hitting exchanges.
Between rounds seven and eight, the referee stopped the fight though the reason was not officially announced to the crowd or ringside press. A large welt had formed over Fonseca's left eye towards the end of round seven and presumably that was the reason for the stoppage.
In the first of two walkout bouts in Oakland, hometown fighter Tony Hirsch, (13-5-2, 6 KOs), scored a unanimous decision over Roberto Yong, (5-6-1, 4 KOs), in a four-round middleweight bout. Scores were 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. Hirsch, who is a former arena football player and was once briefly an Oakland Raider, used his visible advantage in size and strength to overpower the more accurate but lighter-hitting Yong during exchanges. For every crisp combination Yong would land on Hirsch, Hirsch would then bull himself into Yong and unload left and right hooks to the head and body that would send Yong into retreat.
The final bout from Oakland turned out to be the best fight of the night, even if not as exciting as Ward's dominant performance. Randy Guerrero, the younger brother of WBC welterweight champion Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, made his debut as a featherweight against fellow first-time fighter Juan Urbina. With older brother Robert watching intently from ringside, the younger Guerrero and Urbina brought the remaining crowd to their feet with four rounds of non-stop action.
Guerrero, who came into the fight with a five-pound weight advantage at 124 lbs., may have underestimated his opponent at first. Guerrero tried to simply walk through Urbina with power punches in round one but Urbina proved to be every bit Guerrero's equal this night, answering back with crisp counterpunching in between Guerrero's wider shots. For the next three rounds both fighters dispensed with any notion of defense other than ducking under haymakers, and the two combatants took turns unloading on each other as the spirited handful of locals who remained urged Guerrero on. Guerrero looked like he may have taken control in round three, continuing to land heavy shots with both hands on the backpedaling Urbina, but Urbina reversed the roles in the final round and finished the slightly stronger fighter.
In the end, both fighters were awarded a well-deserved majority draw. One judge scored the bout 39-37 for Guerrero, with the other two judges scoring the bout 38-38.
The seven-bout card was presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Gary Shaw Promotions, Antonio Leonard Productions and SOG Promotions. With Michael Buffer overseas, television personality Nick Cannon handled ring announcer duties for the HBO-televised fights. In addition to many local fighters, notable celebrities at ringside included Pete Rose, Shane Mosley, and roundly booed (in good fun) Los Angeles-area athletes Matt Kemp and Metta World Peace.