By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Chad Dawson still isn’t convinced Bernard Hopkins wants to fight him again.
The former IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion said that he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hopkins pulls out of their April 28 rematch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“I don’t think he’s going to make it through training camp,” Dawson said. “Honestly, I think we’ll get a phone call two or three weeks before the fight and, ‘Bernard, oh, he dislocated his shoulder again. Oh God, it’s over.’ You never know. You don’t know with Bernard Hopkins.”
Dawson wasn’t joking. The southpaw from New Haven, Conn., firmly believes Hopkins faked the shoulder injury that ended their first fight in the second round four months ago in Los Angeles. He also sensed from Hopkins’ body language Wednesday that the legendary light heavyweight champion from Philadelphia isn’t completely committed to their second fight for Hopkins’ WBC title.
The 47-year-old Hopkins didn’t look directly at Dawson while they were on the dais Wednesday, nor would he partake in the traditional stare-down for photographers after the press conference concluded.
“With Bernard, you never know, especially when you know you can’t win, you know you’re not going to win,” Dawson said. “Everybody in boxing has a puncher’s chance, but he don’t have that chance at all. He don’t have a chance at all. All you guys are sitting around, looking like, ‘Yo, this guy’s crazy. This young guy’s crazy. Bernard’s a legend. He beat this guy.’
“But look at me right now. I’m telling you, this guy will lose. He will lose. I’m telling you. He’s going to lose. He’s going to lose bad. The fight might not happen, man, I’m telling you. He knows the difference between a Pascal and a Chad Dawson. He knows the difference.”
Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC), the oldest boxer to ever win a recognized world title, dismissed Dawson’s prediction as wishful thinking.
“I wouldn’t embarrass myself and my legacy,” Hopkins said. “To not show up, that’s not Bernard Hopkins. … Why would I not show up when I go to the hometown of another man [Jean Pascal], win his title and come back in front of 30,000 Canadians [for a rematch]? Why would I not show up when I go to Quito, Ecuador, a young fighter, fighting Segundo Mercado, when I got knocked on my ass twice and came back and fought my way to a draw? So now my heart is being tested through a rookie?”
Hopkins hopes Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 2 NC) continues to think there’s a possibility their rematch won’t happen.
“If you train [like] I won’t show up, you’re in trouble,” Hopkins said. “You’re going home early, baby.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.