By Kim Francesca Martinez
In the back of Long Life Fit Training Camp – a gym tucked away in one of the many non-descript strip malls decorating the barren landscape of Las Vegas – are warriors at work.
Edison Miranda (35-7, 30 KOs) churns out sit-ups on the floor with machine-like efficiency. Should he best reigning British Commonwealth kingpin Tony Bellew (17-1, 11 KOs) come their September clash, the vacant WBC light heavyweight crown will be his.
In the middle of the ring, two men jump rope.
One stands out, quietly radiating strength, grace, and focus as his feet hit the canvas in perfect rhythm.
“Bad” Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs), a month outside of his own Sept. 8 battle with Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) at Oakland, Calif.’s Oracle Arena, is firmly ensconced in camp.
Since the first week of July, Dawson has been bunkered down in the sweltering Nevada heat, observing a regimen that begins with cardio in the morning followed by intensive training sessions in the afternoon.
The pending fight marks the New Haven, Connect. native and current WBC and Ring light heavyweight champion’s tenth on the road, but Dawson enjoys no shortage of support—shares Dawson, his “beautiful wife and four beautiful boys” often travel with him. His oldest son, Chad Jr; who, with brothers Sir Chancellor, Royal Champion, and Supreme (“I like to be different,” says Dawson) round out Dawson and wife Crystal’s brood; sits on the apron and patiently watches his dad go through the paces, looking down from time-to-time at a handheld gaming console.
Have often heard it said that training camp may eclipse an actual bout in terms of sheer physical punishment, but through a rigorous series of jumping rope and crunches, the only visible sign of effort on Dawson’s part is the pool of sweat rapidly spreading on the canvas beneath him.
When asked the biggest challenge of moving south a weight class, Dawson replies with a grin, “There’s no difficulty at all…  is my natural weight. Andre Ward is a great super middleweight, but I think I’m better… I’m just looking forward to going out there and putting on a great show and showing everybody that… I’m taller, stronger… I have every advantage going into this fight.”
Dawson’s trainer, former light heavyweight John “Ice Man” Scully, affirms the ease with which his fighter has cut weight, musing that “Chad may weigh even less than Andre during weigh-ins, which would be funny.”
Despite the WBA, WBC, and Ring super middleweight titles on the line (plus the accompanying glory), however, ‘Bad’ Chad is anything but when considering his adversary: “Andre Ward’s a good fighter, a great fighter… [he] has the style, he has the youth.”
But for those fight fans warily anticipating an in-ring chess game between the pair of outstanding technicians, Dawson promises a good show.
“I’m going out there to display something different. I’m not fighting an older guy, a veteran. I’m fighting a younger guy who’s close to my age. So I think this is going to be a fight that brings everything out of me… it’s going to be a barnburner.”
The championship fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing. Lightweights Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 KOs) and John Molina Jr (24-1, 19 KOs) will also contest for the WBC lightweight belt.