OAKLAND, Calif. -- 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 Saturday night and delight 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 2:45 of the 10th.
Dawson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, moved down a weight class from 175 pounds 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.
But Dawson proved to be no match for Ward, who punished the challenger repeatedly with his strong left hand.
Ward, the reighing 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 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.
But 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 didn't 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.