by David P. Greisman

Good for “Bad Chad.”

Dawson did exactly what he should’ve done to beat Glen Johnson in their rematch this past Saturday. Some of the criticism of his performance is fair. Some isn’t.

When Dawson first met Johnson back in April 2008, he got sucked into a firefight, throwing combinations while standing less than an arm’s length from Johnson. That left him vulnerable to hard right hand counters from Johnson, a few of which shook Dawson.

Though all three judges scored that bout 116-112 for Dawson, it was the young 175-pound titlist’s toughest challenge yet.

Dawson knew that.

“He taught me a lot in the first fight we had,” Dawson said late Saturday, following his unanimous decision win in the rematch, which the judges scored 115-113 (twice) and 117-111. “I’d never been through anything like that. That’s what got me through this fight. I didn’t want to go through hell again.”

He didn’t.

Dawson, a southpaw, used angles, distance and footwork to stymie Johnson. Dawson often kept his weight shifted back, forcing Johnson to reach with his jab and the right hand that would often follow.

Johnson had slowed down in the 19 months since their first fight. Dawson could see the punches coming, making Johnson miss with so many of those right hands. Dawson also kept moving, circling, shuffling, going in and out, testing the stamina of the 40-year-old Johnson.

“I knew I couldn’t stay in there and get hit,” Dawson said. “I knew I had to keep sticking and moving.”

Johnson would remain on his stool, not rising until the bell rang to start each round. His mouth was open for most of the fight. The workhorse had periods where he came forward but did not punch.

Perhaps he was conserving energy. But a lot of it had to do with frustration. Dawson had shown Johnson that hitting him would not be easy. Johnson had missed enough punches that he was working for the opportunity to hit Dawson instead of just working by hitting Dawson.

Here’s where the criticism is valid: Dawson, for all of his mobility and defensive moves, has times where he is winning rounds not based off of what he landed on offense, but based on his opponent landing even less.

“I’m a boxer,” Dawson said in the post-fight press conference. “I use my legs. I use my skills. I pick punches, I pick my spots.”

Fair enough. He’s used his hand speed and foot speed to beat Antonio Tarver twice and to get this most recent victory over Johnson. But his style brought out the boo birds Saturday – in front of his hometown crowd, at that.

“I don’t let that bother me,” Dawson said. “They’re not the ones in the ring. They don’t know what’s going on. They’ve never been hit before.”

“I wasn’t looking to knock Glen Johnson out,” he said. “If a knockout came, it came. I wanted to outbox him. I wanted a clean victory.”

That’s what he got, and that’s probably how most Dawson fights are going to look. He’s not a knockout artist. He has fast hands and some pop, but he does not have fight-changing power.

As a light heavyweight, Dawson has not knocked out an upper-tier opponent. Since beating Eric Harding nearly three-and-a-half years ago – the fight that turned him from prospect to contender – his only knockouts were against an outmatched Jesus Ruiz and an undersized Epifanio Mendoza.

The rest? Decisions over Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek, Glen Johnson (twice) and Antonio Tarver (twice).

There’s no shame in that. Harding is a longtime second-tier challenger. He’s only been stopped twice; once by Tarver, once by Roy Jones Jr.

Dawson is fortunate to have a contract with HBO and standing as one of the premier light heavyweights. Even with three of the four world titlists at 175 fighting outside of the United States, Dawson should have no trouble finding quality fights.

Much, much more on that in the “NEWS AND NOTES” section below.

The issue is how much quality Dawson brings to the aesthetics of the fight. The win isn’t everything. He can and probably will continue to use his boxing skills, but he has to bring thrills, too.

I’m reminded of a clip HBO showed from one of Dawson’s past fights while talking about how Dawson would coast, limiting his activity and letting his opponents back into the bout.

“You’re making him miss,” they showed his trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, telling him in the corner. “But you’re not making him pay.”

It’s far too early to write Dawson off as unexciting. This was more a case where he used the right style to pick up the win. David Haye didn’t exactly show himself to be a heavyweight savior with the way he beat Nikolai Valuev over the weekend to capture a heavyweight title. Heck, Kermit Cintron, of all people, chose to box in May to defeat Alfredo Angulo.

Most fighters would’ve just avoided fighting Johnson altogether. Aside from how long it took for Dawson to give Johnson a rematch, Dawson didn’t avoid Johnson until they both were in the ring.

“I kind of know the reason he don’t take chances with me,” Johnson said afterward. “Because I believe I’m pretty dangerous when you stay there long enough.”


- The announced attendance for the fight was 5,230. At least one BoxingScene message board poster said he’d gotten his seat upgraded. There were some empty seats, but the crowd did fill in once the HBO broadcast got under way. It was by no means a sellout. I don’t know how many tickets were discounted or given away.

We’ll see if Dawson returns to his home state again. Had he been built up there to begin with – he was there often as a middleweight prospect, but only once in recent years since he became a contender – he could’ve been a legitimate local attraction by now.

- Gary Shaw mentioned that Dawson would one day go up to heavyweight and fight for a world title, skipping cruiserweight (“Cruiser doesn’t mean anything,” Shaw said. “There’s no interest in cruiser.”) I don’t see that working out too well. Chris Byrd got by as an undersized heavyweight short on power. But, well, he was a rare Byrd (sorry!).

- Dawson said 175-pound titlist Jean Pascal, should Pascal beat Adrian Diaconu in their December rematch, could be next. Who else?

“Not to call out 40 year olds – Bernard Hopkins. He’s been No. 1 for almost two years. He’s been inactive. I’ve been No. 2.

Then Shaw chimed in:

“Chad’s the WBC interim titleholder. If Pascal wins his fight, it was ordered… that Dawson and Pascal would fight next, which is a great fight for Chad. We’re not going to wait until Hopkins and Roy fight their fight. We’ll probably fight our fight first. Then after they fight, if Roy Jones beats Hopkins, I believe Roy has the balls and will fight Chad Dawson. If Hopkins wins, he’ll find another reason not to fight Chad Dawson.

“We don’t have to stand around calling people out. I promise you, the roads will lead to Chad Dawson.”

Dawson added a bit more:

“I’m interested in facing anybody. Roy’s been doing pretty good lately. I would love that fight. Roy’s a great fighter.”

Lou DiBella, there as part of Glen Johnson’s promotional team, gave some quick analysis:

“There’s no one in the world with 40 year old legs that’s beating this kid.”

That led to an interesting exchange:

“Shhh, Lou,” Shaw said. “Don’t discourage them.”

“Hey, nobody wants to see the Hopkins fight more than me,” said DiBella. Hopkins and DiBella have a contentious history, to put it one way.

- Shaw ruled out Dawson entering Showtime’s “Super Six” super middleweight tournament as a replacement for another fighter, say, if Jermain Taylor were to drop out.

“We have a contract with HBO that has a first and last option,” Shaw said. “I’m sitting down with HBO this week. I met with them this morning. Hopefully we’ll have a deal put on the table for Chad to continue at 175 on HBO.

“We’re not whores,” he said. “We’re not going to go back and forth across the street.”

“Would we go down to ‘68 and fight someone?” Shaw said. “Yeah. At this stage of the game, it’s all about M-O-N-E-Y for Chad.”

- Glen Johnson, on his future:

“I don’t know if I’m going to retire or not. I’ll see what phone calls I get. If there’s something that makes sense, I’ll fight again. If nothing comes up worthwhile, I’ll retire.”

- Shaw, on what’s next for Alfredo Angulo:

“Sergio Martinez is not a big fight for ‘Perro’. There are big fights. If Margarito gets relicensed. I’ll be long dead when Chavez Jr. fights [Angulo]. There are fights out there for him [Angulo]. I’d like to get Mayorga back.”

Mayorga was to have met Angulo in February, but he pulled out of the fight.

“I’m planning a big show with another promoter in L.A,” Shaw said “I’m just working on it.”

Shaw didn’t give any further details.

David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on He may be reached for questions and comments at