Sunday, September 9, 2012

Son of God (S.O.G.) = Student of the Game


Because of a bus trip to Baltimore Saturday to watch the Yankees/Orioles game, I wasn't able to catch the Andre Ward/Chad Dawson fight till Sunday morning. While I was intently looking forward to it, I wasn't sure what to expect from two such highly skilled boxers. However, though I didn't put it in print, I had predicted to numerous people whose boxing opinion I respect that Ward would "school Dawson."

I hate to say I told you so, but such was the case on Saturday night; as WBA/WBC super middleweight (168 lbs.) champion Andre 'S.O.G.' Ward (26-0, 14 KO's) gave WBC light heavyweight (175 lbs.) champ Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KO's) a boxing lesson. Yet, while I had said Ward would "school Dawson," I never truly believed it would be as one sided as it was. Ward won just about every minute of every round, outside of the first, en route to a 10th round TKO finish.

What many, including myself, were afraid might turn into a lackluster 12 round counter-punching affair, immediately became a tactical, in your face prize fight. Because of Ward's orthodox stance facing the southpaw Dawson and also because of Dawson's clear height and reach advantage, Ward understood right away that he had to fight Dawson on the inside. Yet, what made Ward's performance so brilliant was that he fought on the inside in many different facets.

It was clear Ward and his trainer Virgil Hunter had a game plan and they worked it to perfection. The plan as it played out was to confuse Dawson by fighting him a different way in every round. Early on it was to get inside and punish the body, then in the third and fourth rounds, Ward started to catch Dawson repeatedly with a quick left hook over Dawson's lazy jab. That plan in itself could have easily won Ward the fight.

Yet, every time Ward came back to his corner in between rounds, Hunter changed the game. One round at a time Hunter would give Ward instructions such as, "This round I want you to double up on your jab and follow it straight in with your right; okay, now this round let's start using your uppercut." etc. and so on. Hunter was masterful in his instruction and Ward was ever the 'A' student in working the game plan to perfection. Simply put, Ward ran a clinic on Dawson.

In his post fight interview, Ward was not only respectful and humble, but also very well spoken and to the point on every question HBO's Larry Merchant asked him. In the dirty world of boxing, seldom is a young man, now 28 years old, so righteous in his approach to the sport and life itself. Ward's path is clear, as he stated before answering his first question to Merchant, "Larry if you'll permit me five seconds to give thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

It's that value that has guided Ward on his journey to a 2004 Olympic Gold medal, the super six middleweight tournament title and the world super middleweight championship. For 16 years this young man has been applying his craft, along the way not garnering the respect and coverage he deserves. After his performance Saturday night, he'll get it all now because not only is he a Son of God, but S.O.G. is a student of the game. 

1 comment:

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