Two young, exciting, classy, established world champions, both from the United States, both in their primes and both widely recognized as the best in their weight class, will clash when undefeated Andre "SOG’’ Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) defends his WBA, WBC and RING super middleweight championships against once-beaten WBC and RING light heavyweight titleholder "Bad" Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) of New Haven, Conn., in the main event of "Ward vs. Dawson - World Champions - Made In America’’ on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
The mega-super fight, which was recently announced in Las Vegas, is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions in association with Antonio Leonard Productions and SOG Promotions. Tickets, priced at $300, $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, will go on sale TOMORROW, Friday, June 22 and will be available for purchase at the Oracle Arena box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or online at ticketmaster.com. The scheduled 12-rounder will be televised live on HBO® World Championship Boxing at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
This type of compelling matchup where the top fighter in one division faces the No. 1 boxer in another division happens only occasionally in boxing. A few examples (where the smaller boxer won):
Floyd Mayweather was welterweight champion when he moved up and defeated Oscar De La Hoya for a junior middleweight title (May 5, 2007); Manny Pacquiao was the lineal 140-pound titlist when he beat Miguel Cotto for a welterweight belt (Nov. 14, 2009); Roy Jones was the undisputed light heavyweight boss when he went up and whipped John Ruiz for a heavyweight crown (March 1, 2003); and Timothy Bradley was a 140-pound belt-holder when he "beat" welterweight champion Pacquiao (June 9, 2012).
Much rarer is when the No. 1 in a weight class drops a division to face the leading man, such as what Dawson is doing. One example is Jones, who, one fight after dethroning Ruiz, went back to 175 pounds and defeated then-light heavy champion Antonio Tarver (Nov. 8, 2003).
Ward, universally acknowledged as 2011 Fighter of the Year and the lone U.S. boxer to win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, and Dawson, a two-time world champion at 175, are both coming off impressive victories in the highest-profile matches of their careers.
The 6-foot, 28-year-old Ward, despite a broken hand, proved he was the planet’s No. 1 super middleweight when he won the Super Six World Boxing Classic on Dec. 17, 2011, by mostly manhandling England’s Carl Froch, who would go on to destroy Canada’s Lucian Bute last May 26. Going into that fight there was a small faction who believed that Bute was still at the head of the weight class. Now, however, there is absolutely no question that Ward is the man at 168.
The 6-foot-1 Dawson, who turns 30 on July 13, is coming off a dominant 12-round majority decision over the legendary Bernard Hopkins last April 24. At the post-fight press conference, Dawson expressed a desire to drop down and meet Ward rather than defend against a lesser-known light heavy contender. Dawson turned pro at super middleweight, but this will be his first start at 168 since February 2006.
"Chad’s the best in his division and I’m the best in my division," said Ward, who’ll be giving away five inches in reach. "Chad has proven he wants to fight the best. I want to fight the best. You want to make a statement when you can, and this is the right time for a big fight like this. He’s coming off his best win. He’s a tree. I have to find a way to chop him down.
"Neither of us are all-time greats yet. We still have work to do."
Said Dawson, "We’re both great champions, two young guys taking each other on. I think this fight is great for the sport of boxing. It’s a situation where he didn’t have to take the fight and I didn’t have to take the fight. (But) The deal got done, and there was no confusion. Everything went smooth."
"Chad and Andre are the best fighters in their respected divisions, and both are worthy of pound for pound status," said promoter Gary Shaw. "Anytime you have two great champions willing to risk it all, as we do in this fight, the fans are the ones who benefit the most. On September 8th, the world will witness, what I believe might be the fight of the year. It is highly unusual when two world champions, both owning the Ring belt in two divisions, agree to fight one another."
"The fact that Dawson is coming down from light heavyweight to super middleweight and challenging Ward, who was "Fighter of the Year" in 2011, on his home turf, is proof that he has the heart of a warrior. He must be commended for his great courage, and these are what the old-time throwback fighters were all about."
Oracle Arena has hosted four of the last seven Ward fights. "I’m excited. I would’ve fought anywhere, and I think I proved that in my last fight (against Froch in Atlantic City),’’ Ward said. "It’s great for me, and it’s going to be great for Oakland to have their champion come home.’’
Offered promoter Dan Goossen, "It’s a risky fight, and Andre’s taking on a huge challenge, having just won the unified super middleweight title and now fighting the light heavyweight champ. But he’s ready for this challenge and the fans are going to see who is the preeminent world champion of these divisions.
"I commend both Chad and his promoter Gary Shaw being so confident in fighting Andre. The beneficiaries of this confidence will be the Bay Area fans and HBO subscribers, and I know the fighters will give them a great fight.
"We believe there will be 19,000 strong at Oracle Arena on September 8 screaming wildly for Andre to defend his championships in front of his hometown fans. I know the city and fans are thrilled we’re there and we’re going to bring a Las Vegas-level event to Oakland."
"Fight fans win when elite fighters who have proven to be the best in their respective weight classes agree to meet in the ring and provide the sport with a compelling showdown," said Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming, HBO Sports. "We applaud both Chad and Andre for stepping up and taking on this challenge and we’re thrilled to be televising the event live on our flagship boxing series."