By Keith Idec
Now that the press tour for his Oct. 15 fight against Bernard Hopkins has ended, Chad Dawson is eager to begin his second training camp with Emanuel Steward.
Dawson hired Steward as his trainer in December, but they’ve only worked together for one fight, not nearly enough time to determine how wise it was to replace Eddie Mustafa Muhammad with Steward.
“The adjustment is coming along, but it takes time,” Dawson said. “I’ve only been with him for four, five months. Everything is going great right now. I’m happy, he’s happy. In this fight we’re looking to take it to another level.”
Dawson wasn’t a visibly different fighter in his first bout with Steward in his corner, but Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC) and his handlers contend that had more to do with Dawson’s opponent, Adrian Diaconu (27-3, 15 KOs), than the Dawson-Steward partnership. Dawson won their 10-round round bout pretty easily May 21 in Montreal, but the typically passive southpaw wasn’t much more aggressive than usual while scoring a unanimous decision victory over Diaconu (118-110, 117-111, 116-112).
“That last fight had nothing to do with Emanuel Steward and Dawson,” said Gary Shaw, Dawson’s promoter. “He was fighting a fighter who was only trying to survive, not trying to win.”
Perhaps, but the 29-year-old Dawson knows he can’t approach the biggest fight of his career the way he handled Diaconu. Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 1 NC) is 17 years older than Dawson, but the legend from Philadelphia still will be the most crafty, physical fighter Dawson has encountered in his 10-year pro career.
“He’s a jab freak,” Dawson said of Steward. “He wants the knockout, but at the same time he wants you to look good doing it. He likes boxer-punchers. That’s what we’re trying to turn me into. He wants me to be more aggressive. I know I have to be aggressive in this fight. That’s something that I have to do. I will do anything I have to do to win this fight.”
Even though they didn’t draw rave reviews in their first fight together, Dawson, of New Haven, Conn., is confident Steward is the right trainer to help him fully realize his potential. He’s just trying to remain patient as the process unfolds.
“You don’t just change overnight,” Dawson said. “It takes time. I think Emanuel Steward knows and I know it takes time. I think that now we’re coming together great. We talk on the phone all the time. I know what he wants and he knows what I expect. I think we make a great combination.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.