By Terence Dooley
Tony Dodson is considering his options after losing to Commonwealth light-heavyweight titlist Ovill McKenzie in three rounds on a VIP Promotions show at Bowler’s Arena, Manchester on Friday night. A packed house was on hand to cheer the North West favourite on. McKenzie brought a coach load of his own fans. Both sets of supporters were in fine voice throughout an intense if messy contest.
The Liverpool-based boxer was harried and harassed from the get go by Derby’s McKenzie (174lb) before hitting the canvas early in the third after taking a solid right hand. Although he made it to his feet, Dodson (173lb) was in no position to defend himself during McKenzie’s follow up assault and referee Victor Loughlin made the right decision when signalling the end at 1:06 of the session.
Dodson hit the scales a little over the light-heavyweight limit at the weigh in on Thursday. However, the 31-year-old was quick to dismiss the notion that he had weakened himself to make 175lb, instead opting to heap praise on McKenzie.
“I got on the scales on the day of the weigh in and was three ounces over,” said Dodson during our post-fight discussion. “On my own scales I’d been bang on so I just went for a little walk and got a pound and a half off. If I was struggling, I wouldn’t have taken that much off.
“He is so strong. The plan was working well in the second round, but it is hard when you’re getting hit with shots at the back of the head and he’s a powerful man. Victor Loughlin did the right thing rather than me getting caught more. I would have got into it as it went on but it didn’t. It is one of those things.”
Dodson boxed his way into the contest during the second. Ovill, though, was not discouraged and continued to pressure the former British super-middleweight champion until the round’s end. Dodson won the stanza, but he gave a lot himself in order to do so and his problems were doubled due to a badly gashed tongue.
“That was only a fraction of what I should have been doing,” he said. “I was letting him get to me a bit too much. My tongue is cut really bad. That is why I’m talking a bit funny. It happened in the second round and the blood was going down the back of my throat so it was really uncomfortable. It would have been hard going twelve rounds with that. Every time I bit down on my gum shield, I was biting my tongue because it had swollen.
“I don’t feel dazed from the knockdown. I felt OK ten seconds after, but I still don’t remember getting any good shots off. He worked well with his punches, he landed some good body shots because he was probably thinking of the [Carl] Froch fight [in 2006 when Dodson was stopped in three rounds and hurt to the body], but I took them well to the body up at light-heavyweight.”
Although clearly disappointed and dejected over the result, Dodson had no hesitation over answering the dreaded ‘retirement’ question. “I have a decision to make because I won’t be a journeyman or stepping stone for anyone,” he declared when asked if he is likely to call time on his career.
“Tonight wasn’t my night it was McKenzie’s night. I’ve some great nights in my career. Maybe it is time for a change. I don’t know whether boxing has taken its toll physically. It is hard for me because I get bored, I’ve been doing this since I was six-years-old and I’m 31 now.
“It has been a long, long time. You work hard for fights. You’re trying to bring up a family as well and it is tough. I’d tell any young fighter coming through to get away from family and friends and put yourself away to graft for however many years because it is a tough sport.
“I don’t think I’ll fight again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fighter so that is what I want to do, but what have I got to offer? No disrespect, Ovill has got eleven defeats on his record [Ovill is now 20-11 (9)] so if I can’t beat him then where do I go?”
Still, the decision to call it a day is one of the biggest choices a fighter will make. Dodson, 28-7-1 (14), made it clear that a resolution will not be made in haste and that the man known as ‘The Warrior’ will still be in and around the sport no matter what the future brings.
“We’ll find out (what I can do) over the next couple of months, won’t we?” declared Dodson. “I’d like to still be involved in boxing. My mind hasn’t been made up yet because it all still feels a bit raw.”
Whatever he decides to do, the popular Liverpudlian can look back on a solid professional career and an amateur run that earned him plaudits up and down the country as well as the respect of everyone within the trade.
Dodson won the Central Area, English and British super-middleweight belts. His final round loss to Tony Quigley in 2009 is one of the great domestic dust ups of recent times. Although a losing effort it is the fight that people are likely to remember him for due to the intensity on display from both boxers that night.
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