By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — On the same day Chad Dawson disputed it on a conference call, former trainer Emanuel Steward said again that Dawson told him he wanted to train for his Oct. 15 fight against Bernard Hopkins in Pennsylvania’s Poconos because Dawson wanted to be closer to his family.
“We went to training camp with Andy [Lee],” Steward said Wednesday after a press conference that partially promoted Lee’s rematch against Brian Vera on Saturday night in Atlantic City. “I said, ‘We have a great training camp here.’ He said because his wife had a new baby that he wants to be close to his kids. He wants to train close to home. That’s the wrong place to be when you’re fighting Bernard Hopkins.”
One thing is clear — Dawson didn’t want to train for the biggest fight of his career at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit, where Steward prepares his fighters whenever possible. Since reuniting with John Scully, who well worked with Dawson earlier in his career, Dawson has been training in Bushkill, Pa., for nearly six weeks.
Dawson and Steward have had positive things to say about each other since their split, but the talented southpaw from New Haven, Conn., did say on a conference call Wednesday that, “I felt in order to win this fight I had to be the old me.”
Dawson also said, “[Changing trainers] never had anything to do with being closer to my family.”
The discrepancy aside, Steward wants Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC) to beat the 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs, 1 NC) in what the respected trainer considers a “50-50 fight” at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I wished him good luck,” Steward said. “I said, ‘I’ll see you there at ringside,’ because I’ll be broadcasting [for HBO]. But I still think that with all the talent he’s got, he’ll still be a big problem for Bernard. He’s the computer printout of the worst thing in the world for Bernard — tall, left-handed, naturally gifted. He can fight. Just because I’m not there, it’s like [people] automatically [think] he’s lost the fight. I don’t think that’s the right attitude to take on it. I think it’s still a very tough, competitive fight, just on his natural talent.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.