July 29, 2012

Virgil Hunter: "Chad Dawson Will Not Out-Muscle Andre Ward"

By Gopal Rao - When World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward meets World Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson on September 8th, in Oakland, in a fight for Ward’s titles, one of the prevailing subplots will be who will dominate in the trenches, where things get rough. Both fighters have shown a willingness to mix it up along the outer edges of the Queensbury rules. Ward won his first world title by roughing up champion Mikkel Kessler to the point where the bout was stopped due to accidental cuts. Dawson, on the other hand, separated the shoulder of Bernard Hopkins by picking him up and dumping down on the canvas, resulting in an eventual No Contest ruling by the California State Athletic Commission.

Virgil Hunter, Ward’s trainer, insists that Dawson will not be able to do to his protégé what he did to Hopkins.

“I’m not concerned about that,” he told KO Digest by telephone. “Andre’s physicality will not allow that, so I’m not concerned at all,” he said.

“Chad Dawson will not muscle Andre Ward around.”
Trainer Virgil Hunter

Hunter was non-committal when asked about whether the inside game would be a key part of Ward’s gameplan against the 6 foot, 1 inch Dawson.

“It will unfold the way it does.  Some people would say we need to get to the inside, some would say we need to fight on the outside, but that remains to be seen,” he said.

“Chad Dawson is a different style of opponent than we’ve faced before.  He’s more athletic and he’s a southpaw.  He presents a lot of challenges, like remarkable combination punching,” Hunter said.

“Also, he’s a two-time champion, so he has that confidence that goes along with it.”

Dawson beats Hopkins
Dawson eventually overcame Hopkins via majority decision in a rematch that took place in Atlantic City last April.  There are those who see the challenge to Ward as a third go around against Hopkins for Dawson, given the widely held view that Hopkins and Ward share a similar fighting style.

Hunter dismisses those comparisons, however.

“If you want to make a ten cent comparison, then you could say that,” he explained.

“The way I would compare Andre to Bernard is in terms of intelligence in the sport.  Andre is way ahead of his years in terms of his intelligence in the sport, but as far as fighting style, I don’t think he fights anything like Bernard.”

The Ward vs Dawson fight will take place on September 8th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, and will be broadcast by HBO. The chief undercard bout, between lightweight titleholder Antonio Demarco and challenger John Molina Jr., will also be televised, as will Vitali Kitschko heavyweight title defense against Manuel Charr, which takes place on the same day in Moscow.