"That hook was whistling, man. My left hook used to be one of my best punches, and I got away from it and started focusing on the right hand...I put it all on the line and that was the sacrifice I made. We all made sacrifices. If I would've lost, I would not have any belts right now, so that's what happens when you have big fights like this and these big matchups...everything is an option until we hone in on something that we think is the right situation. I'm ready for all challenges. I'm just a week removed and I'm already thinking about what's next and I'm ready to get back to work," stated undefeated Super Middleweight King Andre Ward, who took a look back on his impressive 10th round stoppage of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, discussed his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
BT: Dre, congratulations on another dominant performance.
AW: I appreciate it, Ben. You know, that's what I train to do, man. You know, I'm not going to get on TV or whatever and say I'm going to predict a knockout, but I told everybody that's closest to me, I said, "Man, this dude's going to walk into something and it's going to be a hook. I'm telling you!" That hook was whistling, man. My left hook used to be one of my best punches, and I got away from it and started focusing on the right hand. The last couple of fights, Virg was like, "Man, let the right hand have a mind of its own. Start throwing that hook again." I've really been focusing on it. In this camp, we had eight guys, man. We had eight tall, long southpaws. Not at one time, but throughout camp, we had about eight or nine guys and we were putting in work, man. I was ready, and that hook was whistling.
BT: Yeah it was. I've never seen you throw a hook that nasty before. Did you know the hook was going to be there? Was that something you saw before the fight or did you just make an adjustment as the fight unfolded?
AW: No, no, no. See, the thing about Chad Dawson is Chad Dawson is great at what he does, but he kind of does the same things over and over again. I know that when you attack Chad, the first thing he's going to do is he's going to duck down to a certain side, and he does it like clockwork. He does it every single time, so I knew that if I attacked him, he was going to duck in that certain position and he was going to be right in range for my left hook.
BT: Yeah, it looked like as you were throwing the left hook, you were placing it a specific spot in the air as opposed to aiming right at his chin.
AW: Yeah, I knew he was going to be there. The thing with a tall fighter is sometimes you want to reach for the head with the right hand. A couple of times I got away from it, but when I was focused on what I needed to do, I would shoot the right hand low and it was either going to hit him in the stomach or he was going to duck right into it to that same side and then the hook was coming right behind it. I knew he was going to be there, man. It was just a matter of landing it and landing it in the right spot.
BT: Walk me through the fight as you saw it. When it started, were you just wanting to feel him out the first couple of rounds just to see what he was going to do?
AW: I mean, the first couple of rounds, I wanted to start fast, but not be reckless. At the same time, when you get in there, you gotta kind of flow with what's going on. Obviously with Chad and his reach and his height, it takes a second to get adjusted to that and to find my range. You know, those first couple of rounds, I mean of course I wanted to win them, but I wasn't necessarily concerned about winning those first two rounds because we still had ten rounds left. After I found my range midway through the second round, I was able to get a shot through that third round and I think it was just downhill from there for Chad.
BT: Did you get the impression in those first couple of rounds that he was trying to muscle you around to try and prove that he was the stronger guy on the inside?
AW: Yeah, definitely. I mean, obviously visually he was the bigger man, and on the scales, he was ten pounds heavier. He was 186 that night and I was 176. Obviously everybody knew about the height and the reach advantage, so he definitely tried to do that, but I planned in my mind and I expected more from him, especially early on. Chad's thing was this, Chad wanted me to be enamored with the fact that he was Chad Dawson, the light heavyweight kingpin. I got that sense more so than any other time at the last press conference when we had our staredown and it was almost like he was offended that I was looking him in his eyes the way I was. I felt like Chad was going to try to come out early and try to put me in my place. He did that to a degree, but not as much as I really expected. I was ready, Ben. I was prepared for that and I was ready to stand my ground and get my respect. I think that first knockdown, and also just him feeling my strength inside, he just realized, and he said it after the fight, that it's just different than he thought it was.
BT: When you caught him with that first left hook, did you immediately know that it was a punch that would put him down?
AW: I was surprsed he went down after that first knockdown. I mean, it all happened so fast, but looking at the replay, I hit him right at the point of the chin. I think the first knockdown was more of a flash knockdown, but it set the tone for the rest of the fight. It let him know that he can be hurt. When a fighter knows that another fighter can hurt him, it changes the whole dynamic of the fight.
BT: You mentioned it looked like a flash knockdown on the replays, but when it happened, how bad did you think he was hurt? It seemed like after you put him down, you went in for the kill.
AW: I wanted to test him. Looking back now, I realize it was a flash knockdown. I mean, he was hurt, but you know, I wanted to test him. I wanted to see where he was at without getting crazy. I tested him and I could see that he was still rolling, and Chad is a veteran, so he's rolling and what veterans like to do is, you know, they'll let you hit on them and hit on them, but they're looking and they're steady trying to line you up for one shot. So you still gotta be smart, so I tested him and backed off of him. I understood that I still got nine rounds. So I went right back at him in the fourth round and we got another knockdown. My thing was just to continue to put smart pressure on the whole fight, not leaving him alone. Whether I'm on the inside or the outside, I'm not going to let you get into a comfort zone and I'm not going to let you get into your rhythm. That was the key to us winning.
BT: After the second knockdown, to me, he had the look of a beaten fighter. Could you kind of tell that you were in total control of the fight at that point?
AW: Oh yeah, I mean, absolutely. After those first two knockdowns, this is what happened; Chad went from trying to win the fight to trying to survive and look for one big shot, and that's what veterans do. It wasn't just the strength, you know, the speed, the foot speed, the hand speed, it was more than what they anticipated. I told everybody before the fight that they were making a big mistake. Sometimes the multitude of a person's words can reveal a lot, and his whole team, they were just saying so many different things that it just let me and my team know where their head was. You know, "He's bigger. He's faster. He's stronger." I knew that wasn't the case. I knew that outside of the height and reach, he didn't have the advantages that he thought he had. So after those first two knockdowns, that's what happened. He went from trying to win and dominate to trying to survive and trying to land a big uppercut, like if he saw something, or maybe a right hook or maybe a big straight left. When you know you have a fighter in that type of position mentally, you can see it in his eyes and you just gotta keep pouring it on, keep pouring it on, and then somethings going to get through. It did and we were able to get him out of there.
BT: Were you surprised that Chad chose to stop the fight himself? Did you expect a little more fight out of him at that point?
AW: When I was in the neutral corner after that knockdown, I felt good, and I was trying to creep towards Smoger and Dawson just a little bit. I saw them talking and basically what I thought was happening was I thought Chad was telling him, "I'm fine. I'm good." Smoger is the type of guy who's not going to stop a fight prematurely; he's just not going to do it. So, you know, I was just ready to close the show. I really was. I felt great, man. After the fight, you know, they told me what really happened and I saw it on tape, but I take nothing away from Chad because I don't know what Chad was feeling. Chad knows what he was feeling. Chad has been in some really tough fights against some Hall of Famers; Chad is not a quitter and Chad is not a guy that doesn't want respect. He knows what he was feeling in there and if he felt like that was enough and he was going to live and fight another day, I can't knock Chad for that.
BT: Now that the fight is over, is it frustrating to hear people try to say that Chad coming down to 168 may have impacted the result?
AW: I think it's unfortunate, but we anticipated this happening. It's the nature of the sport. People have been doing that for years where, you know, a guy will beat a guy that they didn't think he was going to beat or it was in a fashion that nobody thought he was going to beat him in; and then it was this guy was too big or this guy was that. It's just a part of it, man. It wasn't a situation where Chad had to come down and it wasn't a situation where we said Chad couldn't weigh a certain amount the next day or that kind of thing. You know, Chad was ten pound heavier than me, man. He was a lot bigger than me the night of the fight. Chad made it crystal clear that he wanted to come down. Me personally, I did not demand that Chad make a certain weight. He said it. I was sitting on my couch when Chad called me out, and Chad not only called me out, but he brought the weight up and said it wasn't a problem. All throughout camp, that's all his team said was the weight will be the last issue in this fight; it's a non-issue. Once that's been said, I mean, it's out of my hands. That's the sacrifice Chad made, but the sacrifice that I made was that I put my belts on the line. Chad had the cusion of potentially losing this fight and still being the light heavyweight champion. I didn't have that. I put it all on the line and that was the sacrifice I made. We all made sacrifices. If I would've lost, I would not have any belts right now, so that's what happens when you have big fights like this and these big matchups. It is what it is and I think those that may be trying to take away from the victory, it's just unfortunate, but we gotta move forward and I know that I did what I was supposed to do in that fight. What we executed, that's what got us the victory. I don't think the weight played a major role in this.
BT: It hasn't been too long since the fight, but you know everybody wants to know what your next move is going to be. I'm sure you had an eye on Saturday's fight. Martinez pretty much dominated Chavez Jr. Personally, I'd love to see you guys meet at some weight, but it sounds like they're going to do a rematch. What do you see out there that could be a potential big fight for you? Do you think Martinez is even a possibility in the future?
AW: Honestly, the Martinez situation is going to be really difficult because of the weight. His people have come on the record and said that I gotta come down to 160, and I tell ya, man, I can't make 160. But at this stage of my career, Ben, everything is an option until we hone in on something that we think is the right situation. I'm ready for all challenges. I'm just a week removed and I'm already thinking about what's next and I'm ready to get back to work.
BT: Are you looking to come back sooner rather than later? Maybe early 2013?
AW: Yeah, I think early 2013 at the very latest. I mean, at this stage of my career, I don't want to have eight or nine month layoffs or that kind of thing. I want to stay busy, but at the same time, I gotta be smart and rest my body because people, they look at the punch stats and they think, "Oh, you only got hit 29 times," but that was a 10 round fight and there's a lot more going on than meets the eye. And not only that, you know, I was in camp for two months, but I've been training long before training camp, so I gotta rest my body. I gotta be smart about that aspect of it, but I'm looking to come back and be a lot more consistent than we've been.