by David P. Greisman
BoxingScene.com: What did the two rounds that was the first fight show you, if anything, about Chad Dawson?
Richardson: “Not much of anything. Two rounds of boxing shows me the same thing it showed me in the Robert Allen fight when we went out of the ring in Vegas. There’s nothing that Bernard hasn’t seen in this sport. The only thing that Bernard hasn’t experienced in this sport is Fan Man coming into the arena. Anything else, he’s been a part of.”
BoxingScene.com: How has he healed? Is he 100 percent right now?
Richardson: “Yeah, the shoulder’s good. The doctor’s given him the okay, the go-ahead. And like I said, he’s an older guy. When Echols and them guys were throwing him down, he was a little younger man. This is what happened: Young boy got a little in over his head, got a little excited.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of alterations to the game plan do you make, if any, between how you approached the first fight and how you approach this rematch?
Richardson: “The thing is the preparations are the same for Bernard Hopkins. Bernard Hopkins is at a legendary status. Bernard Hopkins, in every fight throughout the rest of his career, for as long as it goes, he has to be Bernard Hopkins. He has to be the best Bernard Hopkins he can be. He’ll let everybody else make the adjustments to him. That’s pretty much where he’s at.”
BoxingScene.com: When I spoke with other trainers to get their predictions for this fight, they were all talking about how Dawson is younger, faster, stronger. Obviously he’s younger, but I’m guessing you don’t see what they see as the advantages as being Dawson’s advantages in the fight.
Richardson: “They’re the obvious advantages. What I keep asking people is: ‘You say Dawson’s younger, faster, stronger — Pascal wasn’t? Kelly Pavlik wasn’t?’ He’s 47 years old. They’re ALL younger, stronger and faster. He’s the oldest guy at this level, so everybody he fights is going to be younger, stronger and faster. That’s what you have to deal with every fight right now if you want to stick around this long.”
BoxingScene.com: But it doesn’t matter?
Richardson: “It matters. But like I said, you deal with it. There’s opposition — that’s why it’s called opposition. There’s something that opposes you on the other side. That’s in every combative sport, every conflict that we have, there’s opposition, and you have to make the adjustments to neutralize their strengths.”
BoxingScene.com: So what does this fight end up looking like?
Richardson: “Like I said, we bring the best Bernard Hopkins we can bring. Chad Dawson will have to make the adjustments and he’ll have to find a way to use his advantages, his youth, his speed. If you have a gun in your pocket, but Keith is holding your hand down, the gun does you no good. You have it, but if you can’t utilize it, it’s just like not having it.”
BoxingScene.com: Does this fight go the distance?
Richardson: “I see it being a 12-round fight. I think it’ll be a 12-round fight. Bernard’s a professor in the ring, now. We know this. He’s very calculated, very concise, and we jump on this young boy, and this young buy loses focus at any time, it’s a problem for him.
“For Chad Dawson to say Bernard’s scared, listen — when you look at Mike Tyson highlights, you can get intimidated, you can get scared. When you look at Klitschko highlights, you can get intimidated, you can get scared. What has Chad Dawson done that makes you scared? He can fight, yes, but it’s not like you see Chad hurting people. I’d be more afraid of Pascal than I’d be of Chad Dawson.
“You can tell when a promoter’s talking and the fighter is going into it, and the promoter’s talking through the promoter. ‘Oh yeah, they’re scared of you.’ I’m not going to tell no fighter going up in the ring with another fighter that’s gloved up and ready to fight, ‘He’s scared of you.’ The guy fought Tarver and all these guys, but he’s scared of you now?
“That’s a promoter telling his guy, ‘Here’s something to say.’ I like Chad. Chad is a champion. He knows how to win seven of 12 rounds. You’ve never seen him win 12 out of 12 rounds. He knows how to win seven out of 12 rounds. That make you champion. Now we search for flamboyancy. Everybody wants to be a star. We all want Pacquiao dollars. For Hector Camacho, it came natural to him. You can put fancy haircuts in, you can put tattoos on, and some guys will still be boring. They’re just not charismatic no matter what. And HBO and everybody wants that because they’re in the business of boxing, so they want you to spice up, talk a little more, be a little more.
“But when you got to tell somebody to be a little more, it’s not them. You guys like Adrien Broner, it’s just natural. I’ve known the kid since he was 10 years old. He’s always been like that. Then you’ve got guys who are laid back, and they’re comfortable being that, like Andre Ward. ‘I don’t have to be flamboyant. I’ll let my boxing speak for itself. But some guys realize, ‘I need to be a little bit more.’
“So the only thing I learned from the first fight — to come back to the question — is the woofing and the hooting and the hollering when Bernard was on the ground? ‘I didn’t think I was going to fight you again.’ So now it’s ‘Woof, woof, woof,’ oh what do you think? ‘Give him a rematch? For what, I ain’t rematching him.’ That’s why you barking like that. But now you find out you got to fight him again, we call it whistling through the graveyard.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Naazim Richardson , Bernard Hopkins , Chad Dawson , Hopkins vs Dawson , Hopkins-Dawson