Andre Ward has heard a lot of talk in the weeks leading up to his super middleweight title fight against Chad Dawson on Sept. 8 at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland.
But he made it clear Thursday morning — he and Dawson will be the only ones talking after the first bell rings:
“It’s amazing that the biggest talk comes from individuals who probably never laced up a pair of gloves in their life … At the end of the day, it’s going to be me and Chad Dawson in that ring. When the last instructions are given from the referee, guess what? Everybody’s going to take their seat.”
Ward and Dawson, along with their respective trainers and promoters, took to Faz Restaurant in Oakland for the final press conference to promote Saturday night’s highly anticipated fight, which will be televised live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing at 9:45 p.m.
Ward, the defending WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine champion, said he has trained for this fight with the same drive that he has trained with for his previous fights.
Ward (25-0, 13 KO) also said he will not give any less than 100 percent when he steps inside the ring:
“I respect this sport. I respect the fans. Any network that I fight on I want to give them everything I got. I don’t want to be the guy at the end talking to the ring announcer or giving an interview saying, ‘Oh, I took him light.’ That’s not me.”
Dawson, who began fighting professionally as a super middleweight, said he is confident he will leave Oakland the new super middleweight champion.
In fact, Dawson, the reigning WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion, believes Ward and his camp made a mistake believing he could not make the 168 lb. weight limit:
“I did everything I had to do. I’m ready. I’m in shape … I made the weight. Now, it’s time to fight. Let’s go!”
Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen, said he and Team Ward never expected Dawson to fail making weight – but believes Dawson will fall like Ward’s previous opponents:
“Chad is just like all opponents who stand in front of Andre … They just don’t get it! Andre is a special, special man. Right now, Oakland has the best fighter in the world.”
Despite his credentials, Dawson (31-1, 17 KO) is a 4-1 underdog, according to BoxingScene.
Although his promoter, Gary Shaw, is completely bewildered by that notion, Shaw is very familiar with the situation.
In June of 2000, one of Shaw’s then-undefeated fighters, future Hall-of-Famer “Sugar” Shane Mosley, walked into the Staples Center in Los Angeles for what would become the defining moment of his career:
“The reason I mentioned what I did before about Shane Mosley is because we went and we fought Oscar De La Hoya and no one thought we were going to win – nobody, except the entire team and Shane Mosley.”
Shaw believes Mosley’s win twelve years ago, along with Australian Daniel Geale’s recent upset of middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm on Sept. 1, clearly proves that Dawson can upset Ward in front of his hometown fans:
“We’re not afraid to come to Oakland. You mentioned Daniel Geale – we went to Germany and took the (WBA) belt. You don’t think we can take the belt in Oakland? You’re wrong, brother!”
The last stop for both fighters is Friday’s Ward vs. Dawson Countdown FanFest at the Oakland City Center.
The event begins at noon and will include food, prizes, celebrity appearances, radio personalities and much more.
It all culminates with the official weigh-in at 2:30 p.m., hosted by “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon.