By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Chad Dawson was blunt when Bernard Hopkins repeated that he never avoided a fight against Dawson.
“It’s bullcrap,” Dawson said after a press conference at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill to promote his Oct. 15 fight against Hopkins in Los Angeles. “We all know it. The fight should’ve happened three years ago, but it’s now. I think it’s the perfect time now.”
Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC) considers his lone loss, an 11-round technical decision defeat to Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs), a blessing in disguise. If he hadn’t lost that fight nearly a year ago in Montreal, Dawson doesn’t think he’d have ever secured a long-awaited showdown with Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 1 NC).
Pascal called out Hopkins in the ring after defeating Dawson, which prompted Hopkins to pursue a shot at Pascal’s WBC light heavyweight title. Pascal, of Laval, Quebec, owed Dawson an eventual rematch, but Dawson allowed Pascal and Hopkins to fight a second time, as long as the winner of the Pascal-Hopkins rematch agreed to fight Dawson in his next bout.
Hopkins and Pascal fought to a controversial majority draw Dec. 18 in Quebec City, but Hopkins clearly out-pointed Pascal in their 12-round rematch May 21 in Montreal to become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a recognized world title. Beating Pascal in their rematch left Hopkins contractually committed to boxing Dawson in his next bout, according to terms of a three-fight contract Hopkins signed with HBO following his majority draw with Pascal.
“I had no problems fighting [Dawson] back then,” Hopkins said. “But what does that do for me going forward? I know I can beat him. But what’s after that? Now we’ve got a story. We’ve got the buildup for controversy. This is what TV loves. This is what promotion is about.”
Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw, scoffed at what they consider revisionist history from Hopkins. They’re certain Hopkins knew a matchup against a fast-handed, skilled southpaw would be very difficult, despite that Hopkins has gone 12-1 against boxers who fight from a left-handed stance.
“He’s not telling the truth,” Shaw said. “He’s a smart fighter. A smart fighter avoids those who he’ll either lose to or have a real tough time with, until he’s forced into it. In this case, we set the trap and caught the mouse. What happened is that I let him fight that second fight [against Pascal]. I could’ve stopped it, but that set the trap.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.