NEW YORK — It’s no secret that HBO has been pushing for a showdown between super middleweight champion Andre Ward and newly re-crowned light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson. The network considers (correctly) Ward and Dawson to be at the top of their respective divisions and sees an opportunity to match two of arguably the top-10 fighters in the world.
On paper, it makes sense. In reality, it’s a terrible idea.
Styles make fights and Ward-Dawson is a stylistic Titanic. One fighter, Ward, is a chameleon, capable of adapting to any style an opponent brings into the ring. But Ward lacks aggressiveness and has made it clear he is not interested in getting into a firefight if he can avoid it. Which, considering his enormous talent, is quite often.
Dawson is equally as talented. He has arguably the best jab in boxing and the speed and elusiveness to go with it. But Dawson hasn’t been in a great fight since … well, I can’t remember when Dawson was last in a great fight. Put those two fighters together, as several experienced matchmakers have told me, and you get a snoozer.
Now, if there was no one else for Ward or Dawson to fight, then maybe it should be something to consider. But the fact is there are opponents out there. On May 26, Lucian Bute will travel to England to take on Carl Froch. Bute, of course, is the other top dog in the 168-pound division. If Bute wins, he could be ready for a showdown with Ward in the fall. Ward, meanwhile, could take a tuneup fight in Oakland (against a Don George-type) and make some decent money from the gate while shaking off the rust. And in September or October, we would finally get a fight we have been waiting for.
Dawson, likewise, has options. On August 11 two top-rated light heavyweights, Jean Pascal and Tavoris Cloud, will face off for Cloud’s alphabet title. It was Pascal who handed Dawson his first loss in 2010 while the undefeated Cloud has power and a fan-friendly style. The winner of Cloud-Pascal will see his Q rating spike considerably, making him a natural fit for Dawson later in the year. If Dawson is anxious for a payday, a unification match with Nathan Cleverly in the U.K. would probably be pretty easy to make. Probably pretty easy for him to win, too.
Maybe someday there will be a clamor for Ward-Dawson. But it’s not today. Neither Ward or Dawson is likely to come cheap, meaning whatever license fee HBO ponies up is going to be a big one. Simply put, that money is better spent elsewhere.
– Chris Mannix