On September 8 live on HBO from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., Andre Ward will defend his super middleweight crown against current No. 1 light heavyweight Chad Dawson, in a meeting of top American fighters. Below, Dawson discusses his athletic background and how he got started in boxing.
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Discuss your decision to choose boxing, and how your athleticism in basketball (and other sports) helped shape you into a World Champion.
"I decided to take up the sport of boxing because my father was a boxer and he introduced me to the sport when I was 4 years old. He couldn't take his career to the next level because he had a family to look after. I have six siblings, four brothers and two sisters, so you could imagine how tough it was trying to make ends meet for him. My brothers and I spent a lot of time training in the gym with my dad and I fell in love with the sport at a young age. Once I started fighting amateur, I really believed I could be one of the best, because it was such a natural feeling for me to be in the ring.
"I always wanted to show my dad that I could be a great boxer and one day become world champion. I fulfilled that dream and I know he's proud of me for accomplishing that goal, because his career got cut short. He always wanted me to succeed as a boxer and his desire for me to be the best was great motivation.
"In high school I played quarterback and wide receiver and was the starting point guard on the varsity basketball team. Those positions require a lot of mental preparation and I really believe it helped me be a better thinker in the ring. While juggling all three sports, it was very difficult to stay focused on my academics, and my grades started to fade. I lost my starting position as a point guard and my interest in football was no longer there. When you're a young teenager growing up and the future looks dim, you can easily get caught up in the wrong crowd and head down the road to destruction. I needed to make a decision on what I wanted to do with my life and decided to dedicate myself to the sport of boxing.
"In boxing, it's a gift to be able to make adjustments during the middle of a fight, and my experience playing quarterback and point guard definitely helped out. I consider myself an intelligent fighter and one that can make an adjustment on the fly. Right now I'm on top of the world and I took this fight with Andre Ward because boxing should be about the best fighting the best. That's what real fighters do...fight the best!"
24/7 Road to Ward/Dawson debuts Saturday, August 25 on HBO at 12:00 a.m. ET/PT.
Ward vs. Dawson takes place Saturday, Sept. 8 live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT