Andre Ward knocked down Chad Dawson three times before winning on a technical knockout in the 10th round to defend his WBC-WBA super middleweight titles on Saturday to the delight of his hometown crowd.
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) knocked down Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs) late in the third round and early in the fourth to take control of the fight and finished him off with a combination at 2 minutes, 45 seconds of the 10th.
Dawson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, moved down a weight class from 175 pounds (79.4kg) to 168 to take on Ward. Dawson was also willing to fight in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, where an enthusiastic crowd had previously cheered Ward on to four wins.
However, Dawson proved no match for Ward, who punished the challenger repeatedly with his strong left hand.
Ward, the reigning fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, ran through a strong field in the Super Six super middleweight tournament, capping it with a decision over Carl Froch in December last year that made him the undisputed champion of the weight class.
Ward also is the last American to win an Olympic gold medal, doing it in Athens in 2004, and is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He showed why against Dawson.
However, this may have been one of his most impressive bouts.
While both fighters are supremely talented and have accomplished careers, they are not known for knockouts or showy fights. Dawson’s last knockout came in 2007, while Ward had not had one since beating Shelby Pudwill in 2009.
The fight started that way, with both fighters feeling each other out rather than punching in the first round. Dawson got a cut over his right eye in the second round and then things really heated up in the third, with both fighters opening up.
In the final minute of the round, Ward floored Dawson with a hard left hand. Dawson staggered around for the finish of the round and then got knocked down again by a left hook early in the fourth to the delight of the fans, who were pleading for a knockout.
Ward was in control the rest of the way, landing 155 power punches to just 29 for Dawson, according to Compubox. He finished Dawson off with a vicious combination in the 10th round.
Dawson rebounded from his only career loss in 2010 to Jean Pascal to beat Bernard Hopkins in a unanimous decision in April to become champion once again. After winning that, he called for a bout with Ward and was willing to go on the road and down in weight to get that chance. It did not pay off.
In the co-feature earlier in the night, WBC lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) of Mexico beat John Molina Jr (24-2, 19 KOs) by technical knockout in the first round.
Among the celebrities on hand for the fight were career hit king Pete Rose, Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp, Lakers forward Metta World Peace and boxer Shane Mosley.
Klitschko vs Charr
Vitali Klitschko stopped Manuel Charr of Germany in the fourth round to retain his WBC world heavyweight title on Saturday night.
The 41-year-old Klitschko won by a technical knockout when the bout was stopped by the doctor with 56 seconds left in the round because of Charr’s bleeding eyebrow.
It was Klitschko’s ninth consecutive successful defense of the title since beating Samuel Peter in his comeback to the ring in 2008. The Ukrainian has improved to 45-2 with 41 KOs.