By Keith Idec
Chad Dawson knows Bernard Hopkins’ version of what occurred Oct. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
He just doesn’t believe it. Not a word of it.
“I know what happened that night,” Dawson said while promoting the April 28th rematch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “I looked into Bernard’s eyes that night and Bernard did not want to be in the ring that night. He may tell you otherwise and Richard Schaefer may say otherwise, but I’m telling you, Bernard didn’t want to be in the ring that night.
“Like I said, maybe he undertrained and he underestimated me, and maybe he needed a little more time to get in a little better shape. And maybe that’s what he did by taking the rematch, he wants to get in better shape than he came into that fight. But he didn’t have the fire that night.”
Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 2 NC) and his promoter, Gary Shaw, reiterated on the conference call that they think the real reason Hopkins accepted a rematch is because the WBC mandated he had to fight Dawson again if he wanted to keep the sanctioning organization’s light heavyweight championship. Dawson did acknowledge, however, that Hopkins’ pride probably factored into the 47-year-old Philadelphia native’s decision to face him again.
“I guess it’s all about his legacy,” Dawson, 29, said. “If I was him I wouldn’t want to go out on a bad note like that. I wouldn’t want to have everybody say that, ‘You’re ducking this guy.’ So I’m not going to say he’s scared. I don’t believe no fighter’s scared.
“Any man who gets in the ring with another man is not a scared person, but I mean, if you look at the last fight, he said he dislocated his shoulder. We didn’t see any doctor’s notes or anything like that. So like I said, my confidence is [high] right now. I’m looking forward to going out there on the 28th and becoming a world champion once again.”
Bolstered by significant age and speed advantages, Dawson anticipates picking up where they left off before Dawson heaved Hopkins off his back in the second round of a fight that eventually was ruled a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission. Though there wasn’t much action in their short fight six months ago, the southpaw from New Haven, Conn., contends he has a psychological advantage over Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) because Hopkins realized Dawson was too big, too fast and too strong to beat.
“On my behalf, the way the fight ended I could only take it as a confidence-builder, because I really don’t believe Bernard Hopkins was hurt,” Dawson said. “He showed that he didn’t really want to be in the ring with me that night. So that was a confidence-booster for me. And I want to go in there on the 28th and pick up right where we left off. You know, be the aggressor. I want to make him fight. Hopefully we can give the fans what they came to see the last time, a real fight.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.