By Keith Idec
Chad Dawson has watched the end of his fight against Bernard Hopkins more times than he can count.
Even in hindsight, Dawson doesn’t think he had any alternative other than to shove Hopkins off his back.
“It was to the point where people were saying I pulled an M M A move, I slammed him,” Dawson said. “I had to watch it so many times because I’m like, ‘Did I really slam him?’ I know I didn’t slam him, but I looked to see if it looked like I slammed him. But I didn’t slam him. All I did was move back and just slide out from the headlock he had me in.”
Hopkins said he suffered a separated shoulder after Dawson dumped him on the canvas. The result of the WBC light heavyweight title fight, initially ruled by referee Pat Russell as a second-round technical knockout win for Dawson, was changed to a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission. Dawson has contended throughout the promotion of their rematch Saturday night in Atlantic City (HBO; 10:15 p.m. EDT) that he was the victim of wrongdoing, not the 47-year-old Hopkins.
“I was defending myself,” Dawson said. “He was trying to break my back or break my neck. He was putting his elbows into my neck. How long was I supposed to put up with that? What, I’m supposed to do that for 12 rounds and not be able to defend myself? Every time he throws a punch and he misses, then he lunges and jumps on my back. I mean, he would’ve done it probably 20 more times, two more times each round.”
Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 2 NC) and his trainer, John Scully, expected Hopkins to push down on his back and/or neck. Scully recalled that Jean Pascal said one of the most difficult things about boxing Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) was that Hopkins hopped on his back numerous times, which wore down Pascal because he allowed Hopkins to lean on him, rather than going down to the canvas.
The 29-year-old Dawson doesn’t understand why some people have blamed him for the infamous finish to their Oct. 15 fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“If you go and look at my history,” Dawson said, “I’ve never had a point taken away, I’ve never fouled anyone, not even a low blow. So if you look at the history, I’ve never done anything intentionally to another fighter. I’ve always been a clean fighter, known as a clean fighter. But the fans saw it how they wanted to see it anyway.”
Dawson doesn’t regret retaliating, though, not even if Hopkins has been given the benefit of the doubt by a significant number of fans and media.
“Honestly, it was a move any boxer would’ve done,” Dawson said. “If you’ve got a guy constantly fouling you the same way, jumping on your back, the thing to do is to react to it. If the ref’s not going to warn him for it, or take a point, you’ve got to do something yourself to get him off you.
“I had to get him off my back. And the ref wasn’t saying nothing. He wasn’t stepping in, so I slid back. He had me in a headlock and I slid back. And he, I don’t know, his coordination is messed up or something. But he fell back and supposedly he dislocated his shoulder.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.