VIRGIL HUNTER DISCUSSES WARD-DAWSON
By Doveed Linder
In this interview, Virgil Hunter, the 2011 Trainer of the Year and the trainer of world super middleweight champion Andre Ward, discusses Wardís September 8th clash with world light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson some of Wardís previous opponents, and more.
DL: The Andre Ward-Chad Dawson fight happened rather abruptly. Nobody really saw it coming and the next thing we know, we have a mega fight on our hands.
VH: I didnít see it coming either. Chad made the announcement that he wanted to fight Andre and Andre responded that he would like that fight also. It happened real quick. The negotiations didnít seem to take long at all. Not many people had been contemplating this fight. A lot of people in the media have taken on the job of promoting fights themselves and suggesting what they think would be a good match-up. So in that respect, the fight wasnít anticipated, but itís here now.
DL: Even though it wasnít anticipated, itís actually one of the best fights that can be made in boxing. Itís the best super middleweight against the best light heavyweight.
VH: Yeah, and it has the potential for a rematch down the road. At some point, weíre going to move up in weight and they might very well fight again.
DL: At what point do you anticipate Andre moving up to light heavyweight?
VH: Itís hard to say. There are still some fights out there at super middleweight. Thereís the winner of the Froch-Bute rematch. [European promoter Sauerland Evant] was talking sideways and saying they wanted Mikkel Kessler to have the rematch with Andre. On one hand, they keep our name in their mouth. On the other hand, they donít make us an offer. Make us an offer to come to Copenhagen. But thatís not happening, so I think theyíre just talking. I donít think they really want the rematch. I havenít seen one fighter yet who wants a rematch with Andre. These fighters are going away instinctively knowing that thereís nothing his coach can do, nothing he can do, to win a rematch. Theyíll talk about it, but they donít really want to go through with it. Carl Froch constantly wanted a rematch with Kessler. In his heart, he believes he can beat Kessler. But he doesnít want a rematch with us. Heís a proud warrior, but heíll say himself that he doesnít want a rematch. But then heíll come back after he has a good night and say that if he fought Ward like that heíd have beat him, too. Well, he has a chance to do it. So why donít you just be quiet and get your promoter to get the fight together? Letís do it. Weíd like to fight you without a broken hand. We fought you with a broken hand. You had a bad night? Well, we had a bad week. We had a bad eight days before the fight, knowing that it was broken. Trying to keep the swelling down, trying to keep it a secretÖ Weíd like to fight Froch again. Weíd like to fight Kessler again. Andre was just a pup when he fought Kessler the first time. Letís see what happens now. So thereís no telling how long weíll stay at super middleweight. It depends whatís out there. Time will tell.
DL: You mentioned before how the media likes to build up certain fights. For a while there, the talk at super middleweight was a potential match-up between Andre Ward and Lucian Bute. But when you and I discussed this fight last year, you were adamant that Bute should fight a ďSuper Six caliberĒ fighter before he gets in there with Andre. Were you anticipating that he would lose big against someone like Carl Froch?
VH: I knew that Frochís style was bad for Bute. When you train fighters and watch fights, you look at these things. I knew that Bute had flaws that Froch could capitalize on. The bottom line is, if you donít have in-fighting ability, youíre going to have difficulties with Carl Froch. Simple as that. Bute didnít have that ability. He throws a good shot to the body, but that was against B-level guys. Against A-level guys, he didnít do that. It was a cakewalk for Froch. Weíll see if he makes adjustments in the rematch. He seems to think he fought the wrong fight. Iím sure he underestimated Froch. Iím sure he did. And it didnít work for him.
DL: Moving on to Ward-Dawson, when we discussed the Hopkins-Dawson fight that was about to happen last year, at the time, you said that Dawsonís fight with Jean Pascal was very revealing in that it demonstrated his lackluster tendencies. Do you still feel that way given Dawsonís recent victory over Hopkins?
VH: Iíll just put it like this. The first fight you canít even speak about. It was over before you knew it. In the second fight, Chad definitely won the fight. But in some ways, what he really wanted to do, he still couldnít do. So I think in that fight he did show that he still has those tendencies. I think he was very leery of Bernard Hopkins in that second fight. Bernard did some nice things. He hit him with some nice shots. Chad didnít necessarily beat up Bernard Hopkins, he just out-worked him. I think that has a lot to do with the age difference. He was able to out-work Bernard, but he didnít dominate him.
DL: Very few people look good against Bernard Hopkins, even if they happen to win.
VH: Exactly. And I donít necessarily take that and put it into our fight, but there were some things I saw in that fight that I think will benefit us.
DL: A lot of people make comparisons between the styles of Andre Ward and Bernard Hopkins. Do you think there is any accuracy to that comparison?
VH: No, not at all. I donít even know what they attribute that to. Itís easy to compare two guys when they are the only two guys in the game fighting with an old school style with certain things that they do. Take Adrien Broner for instance. He doesnít really fight like Floyd Mayweather. He mimics Floyd to an extent, but the young man has his own style. Heís adopted some of Floydís movements, but they fight completely different. His approach is like Floyd. The stance, the body language, and the posture is similar.
DL: And his attitude.
VH: His attitude meaning his personality?
DL: Somewhat. I would describe it as a healthy arrogance.
VH: Yeah, to that extent it would be easy to make a comparison, because they are the only two guys doing it. So there are some similarities there, but they are two completely different fighters.
DL: Chad Dawson presents a completely different style than some of Andreís previous opponents. Does Andre need to show us something different in his repertoire to get the victory?
VH: I think in every fight that he has fought, heís shown something different. The key is not necessarily what heís shown, but how the other person reacts to it. Sometimes a person reacts in a way that makes it look like weíre doing something similar to what we did before. If I pull a gun on you and youíre twenty feet away and I pull a gun on a different guy whoís also twenty feet away, I guarantee your reactions are going to be similar. Youíre either going to run or get out of the way. But if I pull a gun on you and youíre twenty feet away and the other guy is five feet away, your reactions are going to be different because the distance dictates a different reaction. So itís easy to say that he has to fight a different fight because itís Chad Dawson, but his mentality to the fight will be the same. But he will react accordingly to what Chad does. In the Abraham fight, he used the ring a lot. He boxed a lot. In the Carl Froch fight, nobody knew he threw hooks like that. That was with the broken hand. In the Kessler fight, he showed a little bit of everything. In the Bika fight, he rumbled with him toe to toe. In the Allan Green fight, he shoved him around. You have five different fights where he looked entirely different in each fight. People talk about Chadís height advantage and how heís three inches taller, but thatís actually not true. Heís one and a quarter inch at most. I look at height through the shoulders and their shoulders are about even. Chadís height is in his neck. He has a long neck. So I donít look at him as being that much taller. But with a guy of Chadís caliber, you have to be able to do more than one thing and you have to be able to do more than one thing very well. Without a doubt.
DL: Anything in closing?
VH: Iím looking forward to a good fight. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised, particularly Chad. I donít think Chad sees that much in Andre. I get that sense. I think like everybody else, from the outside looking in, Andre looks very simple to beat until you get in there. Heís really a handful. And when Chad finds that out, heís the one thatís going to have to make the adjustments.
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