By John J. Raspanti, DoghouseBoxing. Virgil Hunter is aware of the challenge his fighter, super middleweight champion Andre Ward faces on September 8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Ca.
The opponent that night will be Chad Dawson, the reigning light heavyweight champion of the world.
always admired his skill,” said Hunter during an interview in downtown
Oakland. “He’s is a helluva a fighter. I knew one day that they (Ward
and Dawson) would fight. I didn’t think it would be this soon.”
match-up is something of a surprise. Dawson will be dropping down to
the 168-pound division, a weight that Ward has dominated for the last
two and a half years.
Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) captured the WBA
super middleweight title when he defeated Mikkel Kessler at the Oracle
Arena in the fall of 2009. Two years later, Ward defeated Carl Froch,
which earned him the WBC belt, in addition to the Showtime Super Six
World Boxing Classic Cup.
Sandwiched between the Kessler and
Froch fights were victories over Allan Green, Sakio Bika, and Arthur
Abraham. Hunter has heard some complaints regarding Dawson’s decision to
come down in weight to face Ward.
“It’s no picnic for
Andre to make one hundred sixty-eight pound either." said Hunter.
"Right now you have different people already tarnishing a victory, if we
win, by saying that it could be a weight-draining situation."
the press conference last month, announcing the fight, Hunter, and
Dawson’s promoter ,Gary Shaw, debated the merits of who is the best
qualified to do the talking for a particular fight,- the fighter, or the
promoter. Hunter called out to Dawson to speak for himself in what some
felt was an attempt to aggravate the champion.
Hunter readily disagrees.
wasn’t trying to get under Chad’s skin,” said Hunter. “I was serious
about what I said. I worked with California gangs for thirty years, and
the obstacles that face minorities in this world. It (the moment during
the press conference) suggested the epitome of, ‘Yasser boss'.
wasn’t angry, I was disappointed. Chad owe’s it to his sons. He don’t
need anybody to speak for him. Gary Shaw is going to be eating off Chad
Dawson for the next twenty years.”
It’s obvious that Hunter
not only likes Dawson the fighter, but the man as well. So, what does
last year's "Trainer of the Year" see as Dawson’s strengths as a boxer?
is a great fighter, there’s no doubt about it,” Hunter said, without
hesitation. “He throws beautiful combinations. He’s got good legs, he
has an understanding of the game. I can’t take anything from him. Who
“He’s had only one setback for whatever reason that was. You have to give him his due.”
(31-1, 17 KOs) defeated legendary Bernard Hopkins to become the WBC
light heavyweight champion last April. He first won the championship in
2007 by hammering Tomasz Adamek. Dawson added the IBF title by easily
defeating Antonio Tarver a year later. Dawson is a long and rangy
southpaw. He’s a an inch taller than Ward and will have a reach
advantage of five inches.
Is Hunter worried about his fighter tangling with an unorthodox lefty?
think if it’s even situation. I don’t think it’s that difficult,”
Hunter said. "But, if you let him (the southpaw) have his way it could
be a problem. I think what’s more difficult is getting the right guys in
Preparing a fighter through sparring is one, if
not the most important aspect of his Hunter's training camp. Many
trainers work on strategy in camp and watch endless hours of tape.
Hunter feels that studying tape is an overrated exercise.
main thing is to make sure you cover all the bases, all the area’s that
need to be utilized,” said Hunter. "I think strategy is overrated. I
know there a lot of coaches who look at tape after tape after tape. It’s
easy to look at tape in victory and say 'I studied the tape and we got
"All of that is an ego mechanism for the coach.
If he comes out victorious, then he can kind of pull it over the
media’s eyes and project himself as this great tape studier, this great
strategy guy, but the fact is when you’ve got talent in both corners,
it’s not about tape, it’s about what’s going to go in the moment.
I think it’s exaggerated and it sounds good, but you know you never
hear about tape when that person loses,” Hunter said. ”When Pacquiao
wins you hear, ‘I studied the tape.I saw the weakness'. If he loses, you
don’t hear anything about the tape. The coach can manipulate the media.
You never hear, 'What did you miss? You said you studied the tape for
hour after hour after hour, and you lost'. Tape watching is overrated.
You have to be able to call a fight in the moment.”
Hunter has been with Ward for twenty years. Is there a secret to the continuing rise of Andre Ward the fighter?
said from the beginning that Andre’s strengths are he beats
superstars,” said Hunter. “Andre has something that you can put in a
fighter, it has to be in him. That’s what will emerge September 8
against a force like Chad Dawson.”
The former standout basketball player also recognizes the bond between Dawson and his trainer, John “Iceman” Scully.
seem to click. Chad is comfortable with him,” Hunter said. “He’s happy
with him. I think Scully is very leery of the strength coordinator,” he
Does the veteran trainer see something special in Andre Ward?
always been underestimated,” Hunter said. “He’s always been looked at
from the outside as someone who’s easy to beat. He’s never been that
guy. I think that’s what they don’t understand about him. When it
becomes a reality, they realize they made a bad call.”
expects Ward to be explosive in September. The thinking is that the
undefeated champion will rise to meet Dawson and then, topple him.
Hunter is reluctant to make a prediction.
“I can’t predicate
anything, until round one,” said Hunter. “We fought the last fight with a
broken hand seven days out. We knew the hand was broke. We had to
adjust. You can’t predicate a fight before it happens. Once it starts
I’ll be able to read the fight and he will too.”
Tutor Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions are promoting the Andre Ward
vs. Chad Dawson fight in association with Antonio Leonard Productions
and SOG Promotions.
The scheduled 12-rounder will be televised live on HBO® World Championship Boxing 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
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