Of course the real difference is his skill, his training, his yearning to improve his game always, and his humble yet ambitious and historical-minded perspective, BUT was his left hook really the difference? I haven't finished watching the fight yet, but two things stand in mind:
1.) Ward's left hook dropping Dawson in Round 2 & responsible for the Round 10 knockdown.
2.) Though Dawson is a Light Heavyweight he isn't known to have the best chin, nor the best defense in spurts.
However, we've seen Ward's mugging hooks agst Allen Green in close, and agst Carl Froch. It sometimes looks like a thumping, mean, and slightly cuff/slapping hook on the inside, but I've noticed the new left hook is a bit of a "crashing" hook or downward angled hook which has more leverage, gravity on his side, and lands directly with the fist on the chin vs. the cheekbone or the temple. Could this have been one of his secret new weapons he's developed over the last year combined with Virgil Hunter's genius?
In the book "A Fighter's Heart", by Sam Sheridan, Sheridan visits the gym (he' s an MMA fighter and talks about Muay Thai in Thailand, Karate classes, and Tai Chi lessons in NYC) and talks about how detail oriented, philosophical, analytical, and creative Virgil Hunter was. He was made to be a masterful trainer and would Sheridan shadowbox in slow motion to perfect the weight shifts and leverage on each punch like Tai Chi. It seems like someone with boxing, Martial Arts, and creativity on their mind like Virgil Hunter would and had found a way to perfect or improve or offer Andre another punch to add in his tool box, or maybe it was something cooked in training camp to specifically affect Dawson's southpaw style. There were times that the 1-2 by Ward was followed by a duck or slip under Dawson's left cross to be followed by a crashing left hook on the chin.
I'm not positive with this punch, but I can say the slight change of angle, weight shift, or leverage of a punch can greatly alter it's affect on an opponent or pad. Great punches I've been told comes from the strength of the tendons and not the strength of the muscles. In fact, if the muscles were so crucial then how come being able to bench 250lbs. does not equate to being to swing and hit a golf ball 250 yards on a line drive. All leverage and technique. If the trainer of one of the top 3 P4P or arguably THE BEST P4P fighter in the world does not believe in weight training, and that there are more naturalistic methods of increasing ring strength without detracting from speed, explosiveness, or the flexibility of the muscles then I believe something is there.
Just a thought. Holler!