Fighters who talk a great talk but hardly walk the walk are common in boxing. Very few are able to flip that equation. Undisputed light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson is one of them, a fighter more comfortable letting his fists talk in the ring than engaging in the usual trash-talking prefight rituals.
A gifted athlete for his division, Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) always looks to be in great condition, and his victories have been as dominant as anyone could hope for. He has been criticized for routinely failing to engage in exciting fights, but he promises that is about to change as he gets ready to face undisputed super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) in the latter's backyard in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday [HBO Boxing, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT]. Although the supremely confident Dawson claims the hostile atmosphere will not alter his mood, he will surely feel the pressure of backing up his claims of superiority in a rare fight between undisputed American champs, and the questions about his drop in weight to make this fight at 168 pounds after so much time spent at 175 will be at the center of his performance.
Tell us a little about your training for this fight.
Training was great. The only thing that I had to do differently in this training camp is diet. I ate the right foods, and I was not able to eat as much as I did when I fought at light heavyweight. I had to diet in this camp, but my body is looking good, and as far as preparing for this bout, we got some good sparring partners. I am going to be me. I am going to be the boxer that I am and be ready to make the right moves in the ring.
People see this fight as either a war or a chess match, depending on whatever approach you choose on fight night. What are the chances for either option?
It all depends on how both of us come to the fight. I am coming into this fight to be myself. I don't know what he plans on doing, but I am planning to make him fight my fight.
You have a reach and height advantage, and you're also a southpaw. How do you weigh in these factors for this fight? Do you believe the weight will make a difference?
I think my size and my height will be great advantages. I have great hand speed. People believe he is faster than me, but I don't believe that. I am ready for whatever he can bring to the table.
What's your take on Ward as a boxer?
He's a good fighter. I don't take anything away from him. He makes mistakes, just as every fighter makes mistakes, and my job is going in there and take advantage of those mistakes.
Are you worried about the fight going to a decision, considering you will be fighting in Ward's backyard?
I am not worried about that at all. It's not my job to worry about that. It's the judges' job. My job is to go out there and fight and win the world title. I am not worried about the judges or putting on a show, that's the last thing on my mind.
What kind of performance would it take from you to move ahead of him on the pound-for-pound list?
Not much. Just be myself, and be the better fighter and the stronger guy. I think people are not giving me the credit I deserve, and that's what I am going to do out there and prove on September 8th. I deserve to be in the position I am in, I am a better fighter than Andre Ward, and I am going to prove it.
You seem to have a lot of personal respect for him. Does that take something away from your mental game after a few grudge matches with trash-talking guys like Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver, guys who seemed to inspire you a little more?
Not at all. At the end of the day, we both respect each other and we have to make a fight. There's a lot at stake here. There is a lot on the line, and at the end of the day, all the respect we have, when we get into the ring, it flies out the window. It's good to see fighters having respect outside of the ring, but once you get in the ring, there's no respect there.
This is the first fight between two undisputed American champions in a while. Who challenged who?
Andre Ward has always been in my eyesight. We knew that we were going to fight one day, we're only one weight class apart, and I thought it would be a great time for me to go back down to 168. People are making a big deal about me not being able to make the weight, but I am on weight right now. I am at 175 pounds right now and the weight is coming off easy. All in all, this fight is great for TV, great for boxing fans and great for America. We're going to show other fighters that you don't have to be a superstar fighting a non-superstar. We're two superstars and we're going head to head, and we're going to give the fans something to look forward to.
You said that you want to prove something by going down in weight and taking the fight in his own backyard. What kind of statement are you looking to make?
My statement will be that I am the best fighter in the world at 175 and at 168.
What kind of respect do you expect the winner to get?
For me personally, I just want the respect from the boxing public, to open their eyes and let them see I am one of the best fighters in the world, or maybe No. 2 or No. 3 after Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. So I am fighting for my own legacy and fighting for my spot in the pound-for-pound list. I don't mind being behind Floyd or Manny, but I do want to be considered the best behind those two guys.
Is this a one-time thing or are you expecting to draw a challenge from the most profitable fighters in the super middleweight division, guys like Lucian Bute and Carl Froch?
I will have to go through the fight and see how I feel after this fight, but I am pretty sure I can stay at 168 or I can go back to 175. Right now, wherever the bigger fights are, that's where I'll be at.
How do you envision the fight playing out?
I just see myself dominating through 12 rounds. It could go to a decision, but it could also be an early night if I catch him with the right shot. I am definitely seeing myself with my hand raised at the end of the night.