Andre Ward, glove and all, reached his mitt down Chad Dawson's throat and yanked out the heart of the Connecticut boxer on Saturday night in Oakland. In a "best vs the best scrap," the 168-pound king invited the 175-pound ace, Dawson, down to his weight class ... and then proceeded to make him wish he pretended the invite blew off his porch.
Yes, let us say that Dawson will not clamor for a return to that neighborhood; the Oakland resident Ward knocked him down in the third, the fourth and the 10th, forcing Dawson to tell the ref that he wanted no mas of Ward's punishment at the Oracle Arena.
Hooks and clean rights hurt Dawson in Round 10 and he took a knee. Ref Steve Smoger walked to him, counting. "One, two, three, four," he said, as he looked into a beaten man's eyes and soul.
"You all right, baby?" Smoger asked, while keeping a count.
"Five, six," Smoger continued.
"I'm finished," Dawson muttered before "seven."
"I'm done," he said.
"Huh?" Smoger asked, looking to confirm with zero doubt. "Stop it? Stop it?"
"Yeah," Dawson said, with a tiny hint of relief, maybe, but mostly with the sad affect of a man who'd been physically bettered.
Smoger waved his left in the air, half the universal symbol of the benevolent intercession. With his right hand, he held Dawson to him, as if to say, No shame, guy, you did your best, you earned your check, I'm not gonna let this beast have at you any more.
Ward is just that, a beast, and that's not a label he's enjoyed on his rise to this peak. Too cerebral, too technical, too much sweet and science, not enough Gatti in him, it was said.
Not anymore, I don't think. Andre Ward graduated from pugilist specialist to "fighter" on this night, and cemented his hold on the No. 2 slot, pound for pound.