Chad Dawson ready for Andre Ward

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 who 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, Aug. 25 on HBO at 12 midnight ET/PT. Ward vs. Dawson takes place Saturday, Sept. 8 live on HBO at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT.