- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Under the cover of a rare rainfall, light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson slips into a nondescript boxing gym for his afternoon workout.
No one will ever confuse a Dawson workout with that of a Floyd Mayweather Jr., who does his training in Las Vegas about 15 minutes northwest of where Dawson has set up shop.
There is no entourage with Dawson, let alone a celebrity best friend. No camera crews. The gym itself you would have trouble finding even when looking for it -- a small room with a ring and two treadmills, attached to a dance studio of all things.
This is how Dawson (31-1) prepares for (and promotes) his Sept. 8 fight against super middleweight champ Andre Ward. The fight will take place at Ward's weight class of 168 pounds and in his hometown of Oakland, Calif.
Dawson produces no sound bites proclaiming he's the greatest ever, and there are no by-the-round knockout predictions from his trainer, John Scully. But in Dawson's eyes, he has done the biggest thing necessary to promote this fight: He made it.
"Me taking this fight and being willing to go down to 168 and to his backyard, I'm testing myself," Dawson said. "That's what champions need to do. Regardless of what you know you can do in the ring, at the end of the day, you have to test yourself."
Immediately after defeating Bernard Hopkins by majority decision in April, Dawson started his campaign for a fight with Ward (25-0) -- a man he said he has wanted to fight for two years.
To potentially speed up the process, Dawson declared he would easily make 168 pounds -- which the Ward camp ultimately held him to.
Pushing for an opponent is one thing, but immediately accepting terms that favor him is something not often seen in today's boxing model. Dawson shrugs at this.
"It's a fight I know I can win," Dawson said. "I have every advantage in that fight. He makes a lot of mistakes, and it's my job to make him pay for those mistakes.
"This doesn't happen enough in boxing. It just so happens that me and Andre Ward are fighting each other, then the week after that you've got [Sergio] Martinez and [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. So I think us four fighters are making a statement for boxing. That's two big fights back-to-back."
Dawson, who opened interviews with, "As you can see, I'm looking real slim," said he's on track for an easy cut to 168. He weighed 176 pounds on Wednesday.
It has been a different type of buildup for the Ward fight than some of the others Dawson is accustomed to. He just wrapped up back-to-back fights with one of the more colorful boxers ever in Hopkins, and not too long before that there were the consecutive meetings with the similarly outspoken Antonio Tarver.
Those fights perhaps needed the sideline commentary, with the now-30-year-old Dawson taking on older opponents at the tail end of their careers.
Dawson hopes, and believes, the challenges he has accepted in this fight and the fact that two of the sport's best were interested in seeking, instead of sidestepping, each another will be storyline enough.
"Andre Ward is a class act," Dawson said. "There haven't been any controversies. This is how champions are supposed to behave.
"This fight does speak for itself. You've got two guys who didn't have to take this fight. We both agreed to it and the fight's happening. Hopefully, fans in the boxing world will open their eyes and see this is a big fight."