By Rick Reeno
As previously reported on BoxingScene.com, an agreement was reached for Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32KOs) to defend his WBC light heavyweight title in a rematch with Chad Dawson (30-1, 17KOs) on April 28th at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
A television deal is being negotiated with HBO, according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who promotes Hopkins. The network is interested and the ongoing conversations have been very positive.
As part of the Hopkins-Dawson package, Schaefer would like to finalize an eye-catching co-feature, and one of the fights being discussed is a certified brawl between WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco and division veteran Michael Katsidis. Additionally, Schaefer would like to reach an agreement where HBO would showcase some of the undercard fights on one of their popular sister channels, HBO Zone.
"The HBO deal is not finalized, I just want to verify that. They certainly want to do it and they are certainly interested in doing it. We are still working on that. As part of the conversations that we are having with HBO, is to ensure that its going to be a doubleheader. One of the fights that we would be interested in, that we are pursing, is a fight between Antonio Demarco against Michael Katsidis. That's one of the fights that we are discussing. As you have seen in our cards, we like to present a compelling series of bouts," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"I'm going to have conversations with HBO as well, to see if I can convince them to take some of the untelevised fights, and show them on HBO Zone, which is one of the other channels. There are going to be continuous conversations with HBO, but we are convinced that it's going all be positive news overall, as it relates to the undercard, the the televised co-feature and it will be something exciting delivered to fight fans and sports fans."
The first meeting between Hopkins and Dawson took place at California's Staples Center last October. The fight came to an early end in the second round. Dawson ducked under an incoming Hopkins, and used his shoulder to push the veteran off. Hopkins fell to the mat and suffered a shoulder injury.
Initially, the fight was ruled as a second round TKO victory for Dawson. The WBC refused to recognize the verdict and returned the title to Hopkins. Soon after, Hopkins filed an appeal with the California State Athletic Commission, which resulted in the official verdict being overturned to a no-contest.
At last December's 49th annual convention in Las Vegas, the WBC ordered an immediate rematch between Hopkins and Dawson. The now-canceled purse bid was scheduled for this coming Friday.
There were other options that Hopkins could have picked, and several avenues were explored, but very few fighters were willing to face the 47-year-old veteran, says Schaefer. Hopkins refused to sit around and felt an obvious motivation to erase any questions related to his last defense.
"Bernard Hopkins has throughout his career never turned down any challenge. When the WBC ordered an immediate rematch, he made it clear to me to evaluate all options, but obviously he's definitely not going to shy away from fighting Chad Dawson again. That's just the kind of fighter that Bernard Hopkins is. There might be some people out there who have some doubts as it relates to the first fight, I think Bernard Hopkins throughout his career in the few instance where there was a rematch - he not only sets the record straight but sets it in a convincing fashion. I think that's what's going to happen here again,' Schaefer said.
"Bernard is at an age now here he doesn't have the luxury to sit around and wait for what's coming and what's happening. The fact is, other fighters were approached and none of them are really eager to get in a fight with Bernard Hopkins. Chad Dawson is willing to go in the ring with the master, Bernard Hopkins, and very few people are willing to."
Schaefer and Dawson's promoter, Gary Shaw, have not always seen eye to eye. In the aftermath of Hopkins-Dawson, tempers were overheating and the accusations were flying over the unsatisfying outcome. But, that didn't stop the two promoters from coming together to make a deal that works for both parties.
"Gary and me, we got off the phone yesterday afternoon and again this morning, and we worked everything out. Gary and me work very well together. We have mandates to optimize the revenues for our respective fighters and I think working together, Gary and me, have shown many times now that it works. We both respect each other and we always have success with our promotions," Schaefer said.