by Cliff Rold, photo by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
It only went two in October 2011. Saturday night, the story picks up in round three, still waiting to be told.
Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson have circled each other for a few years now. They clearly don’t care for one another but styles make fights and their animosity may not make for one. The evidence in the few short minutes seen so far suggests these two may not mix for an epic display.
After the foul end of Hopkins-Dawson I, do we at least get a memorably rough and dirty one? That may be the case. Regardless, this rivalry should end and open the floodgates at Light Heavyweight. Hopkins has said it may be his last bout. Dawson will continue on. If he does so as champion, he has an increasingly tough, and largely young, field to contend with.
If he does not, well, we still get much of the same.
Let’s go to the report card.
Current Title: Lineal/Ring/WBC World Light Heavyweight (2011-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: Lineal/Ring World Middleweight (2001-05, 6 Defenses); IBF Middleweight (1995-2005, 20 Defenses); WBC Middleweight (2001-05, 7 Defenses); Ring/WBA Middleweight (2001-05, 6 Defenses); WBO Middleweight (2004-05, 1 Defense); Ring Light Heavyweight (2006-08, 1 Defense)
Weight: 173.5 lbs.
Average Weight - Five Most Recent Fights: 174.55 lbs.
Hails from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Record: 52-5-2, 32 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 23-4-2, 13 KO, 2 No Contests (including Ring Mag. Title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 14 (Lupe Aquino, John David Jackson, Glen Johnson, Simon Brown, Keith Holmes, Felix Trinidad, Carl Daniels, William Joppy, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones, Jean Pascal)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat or Draw: 4 (Roy Jones, Jermain Taylor, Joe Calzaghe, Jean Pascal)
Previous Titles: WBC Light Heavyweight (2007-08, 3 Defenses; Vacated); IBF Light Heavyweight (2008-09, 1 Defense; Vacated)
Weight: 174.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 174.25 lbs.
Hails from: New Haven, Connecticut
Record: 30-1, 17 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Light Heavyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-1, 2 KO, 1 No Contest (7-1, 2 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 5 (Carl Daniels, Tomasz Adamek, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Adrian Diaconu)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 1 (Jean Pascal)
Pre-Fight: Speed –Hopkins B; Dawson A
Pre-Fight: Power –Hopkins B; Dawson B
Pre-Fight: Defense –Hopkins A; Dawson B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles –Hopkins A; Dawson B+
In the post-fight report card for the first contest , it was observed:
The fight itself never really got started. Enough was seen to get some displays of speed and defense but not quite enough for the other categories, thus the grades. Dawson landed the best punch of an otherwise even first round and was outworking Hopkins in the second, even if neither man was doing anything sensational. Dawson did a little hooking of the elbow himself but, from the start, Hopkins was digging deep into the everything-but-clean-boxing bag.
There’s little reason to think the early rounds will look much different this time. If there is a change, it may be in Hopkins trying to be more assertive early. He may want to exact some measure of revenge for what he has said he felt was a flagrant foul to end the first contest, but it will be brief as Hopkins is unlikely to want to risk losing points.
Dawson is going to have to lead, and Hopkins will try to counter. When he cannot, there will be lots of clinches and stalling. Dawson isn’t a Kelly Pavlik or Jean Pascal. He’s not going to press hard and give Hopkins chances to stand his ground and blast away.
Dawson will be well served to jab often to the body, giving him chances to come over the top and also set up his sometimes underrated, and sometimes under-utilized, body attack. Conversely, Hopkins needs to test just how far into Dawson’s head he may be. If He can get Dawson to think instead of just letting his hands go, Hopkins has a big chance to retain the title.
Clean, landed shots are likely to be at a premium. The mental aspects of this fight could be almost as important as the physical contest. There is no reason to doubt Hopkins is the mentally tougher, and more secure, man. Dawson’s physical and athletic edges have to be used effectively to avoid defeat.
The choice here is that same as the first time around: Dawson by decision. Dawson's youth, length, and speed should be enough to win what is easy to predict as an ugly fight. Last time, Dawson reacted to a Bernard Hopkins' foul with a worse one to end the fight. How will he react this time? That's the big question. He can't let Hopkins get into the melodramatic acting that sometimes marks fights where the elder man is concerned about the scoring. He needs to find a way to make the referee enforce the rules and instead let Hopkins get frustrated with his inability to draw calls. This fight might feel longer than its scheduled twelve rounds, but in the end Dawson will move his hands more and land enough to snare at least seven rounds.
Report Card Picks 2012: 17-3
Cliff’s Notes… Away from Atlantic City’s Light Heavyweight clash, the weekend is ripe with title action…At Jr. Flyweight, look for Roman Gonzalez (31-0, 26 KO) to defend his belt with a harder than expected decision against Ramon Garcia (16-3-1, 9 KO)…In a fascinating doubleheader likely to provide the best action of the weekend, WBC Featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (51-7, 45 KO) is the choice, by late stoppage, over Elio Rojas (23-1, 14 KO) and IBF Jr. Lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado (24-1-1, 16 KO) is the pick by decision over veteran Martin Honorio (32-6-1, 16 KO)…It’s a hell of a fight weekend just one week out from Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]