"It's over, it's finished, I'm done." – Chad Dawson to referee Steve Smoger 9.5.12
This is Andre Ward's (26-0, 14KOs) time.
The man recognized as the best super middleweight in the world turned in a career-defining performance on Saturday night in his hometown of Oakland, CA when he dropped WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-2, 17KOs) three times in a tenth round TKO victory, retaining his RING super middleweight championship. Dawson dropped down a weight class to face Ward after defeating future Hall-Of-Famer Bernard Hopkins.
The first two rounds were slow and tactic as both men looked for openings. In the third round, Ward took control of the fight after landing a hard right-left combo that forced Dawson to take a knee. During the fourth, Dawson was caught by a looping left from Ward that dropped him once again. Dawson got to his feet and beat the count but looked badly hurt. Ward moved in for the kill, firing away but Dawson was able to survive the round.
In the next two rounds Dawson got his legs back under him but didn't look as confident as he did when the fight began. Ward controlled all of the action with his world class jab followed by straight right hands that periodically broke through Dawson's guard. Ward started to apply the pressure once again in the ninth as Dawson looked to have no answer for Ward's brilliant style.
In the tenth round Ward punished Dawson with a five punch combination that made Dawson take his final knee of the fight. Referee Steve Smoger had seen enough as he stopped the fight with :15 seconds remaining in the round much to the delight of Ward's hometown crowd.
"The better the competition, I rise to the occasion," said Ward after the fight. "The missing piece was finishing people off. That was the last piece of the puzzle." he also added.
Dawson, much to his credit, provided no excuses for what had occurred in the ring.
"I did everything I had to do in camp to prep for this fight. He was a lot faster than I thought he would be. He's strong, too. I can't take anything away from him. He really is the best." Dawson said.
Andre Ward has successfully beaten some of the best fighters in the world over the past two years, and now, in what was thought to be a boring fight on paper, turned in the performance of his career thus far.
What does the future hold next for Ward you ask? "A move to light heavyweight at some point is not out of the question," Ward said.
It's official. Andre Ward is one of boxing's best.
Photo Credit: Getty Images