SCULLY ON WARD-DAWSON
By John Scully as told to Doveed Linder
John Scully, the trainer of world light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, discusses Dawsonís September 8th fight with world super middleweight champion Andre Ward. The Ward-Dawson fight will take place in Wardís hometown of Oakland, CA for Wardís super middleweight crown. Scully also talks about Dawsonís April rematch with Bernard Hopkins (a fight that Dawson won via majority decision), and how he has been spending his free time while in camp with Dawson.
JOHN SCULLY: We had a great training camp for the rematch with Bernard Hopkins and I was particularly pleased with Chadís demeanor. He was very confident and determined. Knowing that we were going to be on HBO, it reminded me of when I was a kid. Me and a friend of mine used to meet up and order Dominoís Pizza and watch the fights. Back then, I was anxious to be the guy who was on HBO, either as a fighter myself or as someone who trained a fighter who was on HBO. It was always my dream. It means a lot to me to be involved in these big fights, maybe even more than most trainers whose fighters are on the big networks. When I go into a big fight, as a trainer, I know that some people have their eyes on me. Chadís fights with Bernard Hopkins were my first events of that magnitude and some people mistakenly thought that Naazim Richardson and the other trainers in Hopkinsís corner had a big advantage over me as far as experience goes, but those people donít understand what kind of person I am. When Iím working with a ten year old kid or when I have a pro who is fighting in a four-rounder, I take that just as seriously as I do a world title fight. No matter what the fight is, no matter where the venue is, I appreciate the fact that Iím involved and I give it my all. For me, every fight is a huge event. When I was standing in the center of the ring one foot away from Bernard Hopkins, it didnít feel any different than when Iíve worked a Golden Gloves fight and some novice kid with three fights was standing there. All fights are big fights to me.
One thing I give Chad a lot of credit for in the Hopkins rematch was his ability to adjust and change the game plan. We started out boxing and fighting a technical fight. We were winning that way, but after the first few rounds, I started to feel that that strategy might backfire to a certain degree. We might have won that way, but we wouldnít have gotten a lot done offensively because of how cagey and slick Hopkins is when you give him the room he needs. He knows how to minimize the damage. If Chad kept boxing, it would have been an uneventful situation so I told him after the second or third round that we needed to be more aggressive and start moving forward and he did that. He switched up. You can tell a lot of fighters to do certain things, but they might not have the ability to switch gears in mid stream like that. Chad made the adjustment extremely well. Once he started pressing the fight, he took control. I told him in the corner, ďYou found what youíre looking for. Hold on to it.Ē People have criticized Chad in the past and have said that he takes rounds off, but he didnít do that this time.
When we were training for the last Hopkins fight, not once did we talk about any fighter other than Bernard Hopkins. That would have taken away from the focus and concentration on the task at hand. To be honest with you, it caught me off guard when Chad called out Andre Ward after the fight. Most fighters want to talk about the fight they just had and enjoy the victory, but thirty seconds after Chad found out that he beat Bernard Hopkins, he was talking about Andre Ward. That says a lot about Chadís motivation and level of ambition right now. He wasnít satisfied with beating Bernard Hopkins. He wanted to take on the next best guy. Itís exciting for me to be involved with a fighter like that. As soon as I heard the fight might happen, I had a talk with Chadís strength coach who is also his nutritionist. I said, ďTell me yes or no. Will Chad be able to make 168 pounds properly or not?Ē He said, ďDonít worry about it. Weíll make the weight just fine.Ē Then I thought about how Chadís body looks when he first comes to camp and how light he is, and it made sense to me. I think the weight will actually favor Chad because heís going to be so big and strong for a super middleweight. The fight is going to be on HBO. If there is any funny business as far as a bad decision, the whole world is going to see it. With everything that has happened in boxing recently, they donít want a robbery on their hands. The pressure is on them to be fair, so I see everything as an advantage for us in every way.
Andre Ward has looked great against a certain type of opposition. Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch are great fighters, but Chad presents a different skill set. Team Ward has never faced someone like Chad. Andre Ward actually presents a similar style as Bernard Hopkins, so weíre obviously familiar with that. A lot of people feel that Chad has a tough fight coming up, but letís be honest. Both guys have a tough fight on their hands. It reminds me a little of the first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. Theyíre both young, hungry, and ambitious fighters who are willing to fight each other. When I watched Leonard-Hearns I, I remember thinking that I couldnít believe that one of these guys is actually going to lose. Thatís what people are going to think about this fight. We started camp a couple of weeks ago in Connecticut and now weíre in Las Vegas. Weíre way ahead of schedule. Chad has never started training this early for a fight, which goes to show you how bad he wants it.
My goal as a ďboxing personĒ has always been to never let boxing use me. I vowed when I was younger that I was going to use boxing. What I mean by that is that as long as it doesnít interfere with the preparations of a fight, Iím going to see the world. Iím going to see the sights. Iím going to meet all the people. Iím going to ďuseĒ boxing to live life to the fullest. The other day, I had a nice reunion with Mike McCallum, Merqui Sosa, and Kelcie Banks at Johnny Toccoís Gym here. I sparred Mike McCallum there twenty-four years ago and we just took a picture together in the same ring we sparred in. I saw the Hoover Dam the other day and I sent pictures to all my friends. I also ran into Gale Sayers at Caesarís Palace. They told me it would be $75 to take a picture of him, but I aimed my camera at him from a few feet away and got it for free instead! So whatever time I have outside of boxing, I take full advantage of it. I always enjoy myself. Iím excited and amazed to be involved with this event. Chad Dawson-Andre Ward is just like the fights I used to watch as a kid and itís a dream come true to be involved in another one of them. To keep this going we have to be successful, I know this. I have to train this guy to the best of my ability and thatís what Iím going to do.
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