by David P. Greisman
Days after Chad Dawson recaptured the light heavyweight championship with a rematch victory over Bernard Hopkins, Dawson’s trainer, John Scully, spoke with BoxingScene.com in early May about the win, and also about what’s next, including whether he’d prefer a bout against super middleweight champion Andre Ward or a fight with the winner of the upcoming light heavyweight bout between Jean Pascal and Tavoris Cloud.
BoxingScene.com: What was it that brought Chad Dawson the victory over Bernard Hopkins?
Scully: “You know, I think that there’s one thing that I think people thought he was lacking, and that’s focus. We worked on focus and just taking it home and staying with the game plan, and he did that. He didn’t waver, even in the face of head butts and in the face of a possible repeat of last time — you know, they fell down a couple times. But he kept his head in the game for the whole 12 rounds.”
BoxingScene.com: What was the game plan in this rematch with Bernard Hopkins?
Scully: “In the beginning, we try to always be able to adjust on the fly. And in the beginning with Chad, because of his skills, it’s always boxing — we always try to win with boxing. And I thought at the beginning that Hopkins was so defensive, and Chad wasn’t losing, but nothing was going to happen if the fight kept going that way. And then around the third round, I thought that Hopkins started dropping in a couple of like sneaky punches on Chad, because Chad was waiting on him, as he had been earlier.
“So Chad switched it up after the third and started putting punches in groups together and tried to force Hopkins to fight back a little more instead of letting him just take his time. And I think around the seventh or eighth is when I really noticed Chad putting his punches together. He started feeling it. And actually one round, I think it was the seventh, I said ‘Whatever you found right there, just hold onto it, keep it going.’ And he knew what I meant, and he finished up, just kept trying to push the issue.
“Work rate, plus the body shots — I think Chad was digging into really nice body shots that Hopkins was feeling, and it made Hopkins a little more apprehensive than usual.”
BoxingScene.com: Was that the Bernard Hopkins that you expected to see?
Scully: “Yeah, pretty much. He fought the way that we expected. He tried to be sneaky and counter punch and all those types of things. But I also felt that as he got a gauge on Chad’s speed and range and especially started feeling Chad’s strength, which I’m guessing he underestimated a little bit. Once that happened, I thought that Chad would take over and Hopkins wouldn’t really press the issue as much.”
BoxingScene.com: How did you keep Chad from getting derailed when it came to the head butts and those really nasty cuts? I know, obviously, the cut man did a great job.
Scully: “Yeah, that cut on the [left] side of his face was the worst cut I’ve ever seen. That was unbelievable. Rafael Garcia is a master, so whatever Rafael did was beautiful. As far as the head butts, that’s where I came in. I have a good connection with Chad verbally and mentally. I was just able to reel him in, because we talked about that a lot in the gym, and he knows that I have him under control. I’m the eyes for him.
“I saw that maybe he was a little anxious and he was upset, but we just worked. I just reminded him of what we had said all along: ‘No matter what happens, just focus. You’ve got 12 rounds to go. No matter what, you have to win the fight.’ ”
BoxingScene.com: The fight wasn’t pretty from my perspective, but the fight not being pretty was it being more of a typical Bernard Hopkins fight. How important is it now to get Chad in with a different kind of fighter, a more offense-oriented fighter for his next opponent?
Scully: “That’s the thing with matchmaking. Hopkins did what he had to do to negate Chad’s strength, so he tried the best he could to not let Chad look like a superstar. If you come in against Chad with the wrong style, he’s going to look like a superstar. I give Hopkins credit for that. He didn’t allow Chad to totally wreck him.
“But I think with the younger guys out there, the less-experienced guys, they’re going to come to fight more, they’re going to be hungrier to show themselves, or they’re not going to be as relaxed as Hopkins. In turn, they’re going to open themselves up more to what Chad has to offer.”
BoxingScene.com: I know Chad said he’d be willing to drop down to 168 for the right fight. I know he doesn’t walk around that heavy, but would you prefer to keep him at light heavyweight and not have him drop those extra seven pounds?
Scully: “Ideally, you want to stay at 175. I kind of feel like Chad just became a much bigger star. Any guy in history goes up in weight; they go up to face the guy who’s the champion in the higher weight class. I would personally, on a business level and a physical level and all things considered, I just don’t like the fact that we’d have to go down to fight him.”
BoxingScene.com: Obviously the name everybody’s talking about is Chad Dawson going down to 168 to fight Andre Ward. That is a big money fighter, a big money fight, but that’s also possibly not in my eyes the right style match-up. I would see another ugly match-up. How do you think Chad and Andre match-up, not just on who would win, but on how the fight would look?
Scully: “I think because Andre does what he has to do to try to win, he’ll try to pull Hopkins kind of tactics, maybe. Everybody really, if they can help it, if they can do something besides bang it out with Chad, they would do that with Chad. They know that just being aggressive and being a puncher isn’t really going to be effective. I think he’s going to try hard to offset Chad’s rhythm. It’s a high-quality match that has the potential to not be the best fight to watch.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you want that fight for Chad?
Scully: “You know, he’s in a position now where he can make the best fights for good money. On that end, maybe he’s got to do what he does for himself. Me personally, if it was up to me, I would like to see him fight Pascal just to erase that loss. As a fighter, that’s kind of like my thing. That’s our weight class. He’s fighting Cloud, I guess. We would certainly want to fight the winner and would be heavily favored to beat the winner.”
BoxingScene.com: I know the cut’s got to heal first, but have you talked to Chad about when to get him back in the gym?
Scully: “We’ve discussed it just in a roundabout way. He knows I expect him to be back relatively soon. Even with the cuts, he can shadow box and jump rope. He’s definitely going to be back soon.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]