By Ryan Maquiñana
Chad Dawson may be the challenger in his upcoming light heavyweight championship rematch against Bernard Hopkins, but he feels it’s a label in name only.
“I knew they were going to eventually give him the title back, so it really wasn’t that much of a big deal,” the former 175-pound king told BoxingScene.com. “I just wanted to fight Bernard again, and do it right this time.”
Of course, he is referring to their initial bout last October in Los Angeles that was marred by a chaotic second round where Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) writhed in pain citing a shoulder injury after being thrown by Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) to the canvas.
Although “Bad Chad” would be declared the winner by technical knockout that night, the California State Athletic Commission would overturn the verdict two months later and rule it a no-contest, effectively returning the belt to the 47-year-old Philadelphia-based “Executioner.”
However, not all was lost for the 29-year-old from New Haven, Conn. Two days after the CSAC’s decision, the WBC would order an immediate rematch that will now take place on April 28th in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
Following Wednesday’s press conference in New York City’s Planet Hollywood Times Square to promote the fight, Dawson spoke with BoxingScene.com about his impressions of the first bout now that the dust has settled, what he thinks of detractors who assail his fighting style, and why the eventual outcome will be different this time around against the seemingly ageless Hopkins.
BoxingScene.com: Now that you’ve had a couple months to digest how you feel, what’s your take on the way the first fight played out, as far as the California Commission and the WBC ruling in favor of the no-contest and restoring Hopkins as champion?
Chad Dawson: I knew there was going to be a holdup. I knew they were going to eventually give him the title back, so it really wasn’t that much of a big deal. I just wanted to fight Bernard again, and do it right this time. I just wanted him to come to the table, to have him come in willing to fight, and now we’re going to see on April 28th.
BoxingScene.com: How many times have you replayed the fight on film? Has anything changed from the way you felt that night and now, especially since you’ve had time to see it from an outside perspective?
Chad Dawson: I’ve watched it a few times. In my opinion, it’s obvious that he wasn’t hurt, but the ref and everyone didn’t buy it that night.
BoxingScene.com: What’s going to be different the second time around, if at all? What have you and your trainer John Scully devised as far as a plan to address anything you didn’t like in the first fight?
Chad Dawson: We haven’t been working on anything new. It’s the same things we worked on in the last fight. Bernard’s not going to change. He’s not going to do anything different. He’s 47 years old. He’s pretty much stuck in his ways as a fighter, so we’re just going to stay cautious and be prepared for his dirty tactics, the headbutts, the low blows, him crying about low blows when there weren’t low blows. Hopefully we got enough under his skin in the press conference where he’ll come to fight, work with his hands, and not his head.
BoxingScene.com: With the layoff in between fights, Hopkins will now taken an extra six months off his shelf life. While he always stays in shape, at age 47, do you see a silver lining at all in the sense that he’s not getting any younger, and here you are getting a mandatory rematch six months later?
Chad Dawson: He’s not getting any younger. Now that he’s got this big shoulder injury he’s coming off, so he says, he’s been buying time with that title. He can’t fight the guys he wants to pick anymore. Otherwise, he’d have that title until he was 50 years old.
BoxingScene.com: You’re no stranger to rematches, having done double duty with Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver. Adding to your résumé is putting the first blemish on Tomasz Adamek’s record, and the list goes on with other solid names. Do you feel you’re getting the respect you think you deserve for your accomplishments, or do you still feel there’s work to be done?
Chad Dawson: I’ve never felt I’ve gotten my just due as far as my résumé and who I’ve beat and been in the ring with. I think all that will come into play when I beat Bernard Hopkins decisively and easily and show I’m the best the light heavyweight in the world. You look back at my résumé and people will notice I beat this guy and that guy, but it’s going to take beating Bernard Hopkins for people to realize that.
BoxingScene.com: The only loss on your record is a late-round technical decision to Jean Pascal. Is that a fight you would want next should you win over Hopkins, especially since you called him out when you thought you had won back in October?
Chad Dawson: Honestly, Pascal doesn’t really have anything I want right now. Of course, I want to get that revenge on him, but he doesn’t have a title, so I’ll be going after titleholders after I beat Bernard Hopkins.
BoxingScene.com: To many fans and media, winning is never enough, and there are people who feel like you don’t have the most entertaining or exciting style at times. What do you have to say to those detractors?
Chad Dawson: To them, I say my style is my style. At the end of the day, I can still go home and have a conversation with my kids. That’s what I say. To me, it’s all about longevity. The more punches you take, you shorten your career. That’s what enters my mind when I’m fighting. I’m not fighting out there to get myself hurt. I’m not out there to care if some of the fans say I’m not a crowd-pleaser. All I care about is winning.
BoxingScene.com: There have been a lot of mind games going on between the two of you, especially on Twitter. Can you talk a little bit about the psychological aspect of the fight between you two heading into this rematch?
Chad Dawson: Here’s the thing. When we see each other at the press conference eight weeks out from the fight, neither one of us is in shape like we should be. I may not look as big at the press conference as I am the night of the fight.
But when he saw me how big I was in the ring the night of the fight, I think that played a role in him giving a second look at what he was getting into with me. He thought, ‘Do I really want to fight this young kid for 12 rounds?’
I think the answer was no, which is why he just wanted a way out. He didn’t think they’d order a mandatory rematch. He thought it would be over and I would just step aside, but that dream is over for him, and I’m a nightmare for Bernard.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the fans, media, or the boxing world in general?
Chad Dawson: On April 28th, I’ll be crowned the light heavyweight champion in the world, and I’m looking forward to getting back on that pound-for-pound list. For the fans, look out for me when I get back on top.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28