Time for Dawson to put it all together
US boxing expert Kevin Iole says that there is no better time than on Saturday for Chad Dawson to get the most out of his physical gifts.
Anyone who has shopped online has seen those grids with checkboxes which allow you to compare features in multiple products.
If boxers were rated by checkboxes, Chad Dawson’s grid would be full. Strong jab? Check. Power? Check. Defense? Check. Speed? Check. Footwork? Combination punching? Body work? Check, check and check.
There is little that Chad Dawson can’t do in a boxing ring. It’s one of the reasons that Floyd Mayweather Jr., No. 2 on Yahoo! Sports’ pound-for-pound list, once called Dawson the best fighter in the world.
When it comes to Dawson, though, it often seems that the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Dawson has a glittering 30-1 record with 17 knockouts, but he so frequently leaves you underwhelmed after watching him fight. The sense that there is so much more he could give is palpable.
He’ll need to give all he can Saturday when he meets veteran Bernard Hopkins for the Ring and World Boxing Council light heavyweight titles in the main event of an HBO Pay-Per-View card at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 46-year-old Hopkins is almost the exact opposite of Dawson, in that he squeezes every last bit out of his talent. Whereas one plus one seems to equal three with Hopkins, two plus two far too often appears to equal three with Dawson.
Dawson’s promoter, Gary Shaw, said part of the perception problem is that Dawson is so gifted.
“The fans look at Chad and they can see he’s so talented and he makes beating some of these very good, excellent fighters look way easier than it really is,” Shaw said. “Just go back and look at that fight he had with Tomasz Adamek. Adamek is a legitimate world-class guy and Chad made it look simple.”
Dawson said he was bored in his only loss, a technical decision defeat on Aug. 14, 2010, in which he fought lethargically against Jean Pascal in Montreal. Rarely was there any intensity or fire from Dawson, and it’s hard to get anyone to take a fighter seriously as a pound-for-pound candidate when he has a lackadaisical attitude.
Perhaps the return of trainer John Scully to his camp will light a fire under him. Dawson raved about Scully in just about every interview and seems more motivated to meet Hopkins than he has for anyone in years.
“I became bored, I got bored,” Dawson said. “I lost to Pascal, and that’s a fight I should have never lost. I felt like if I had Scully in my corner for that fight, that wouldn’t have happened. Just going back to recent fights, my performance, I feel like I started to slouch a little bit, get lazy. I think Scully is that trainer that has what it takes to bring the best out of me. …
“And I’m doing what I’ve got to do for my career and for my family, and that’s me being back with John Scully. And on [Saturday], people will get to see what I’m talking about. They’ll get to see the hungry Chad Dawson. You’ll see the fire in my eyes. You’ll see that I’m back, and I’m on top of my game.”
For once, Dawson seems motivated by slights, perceived and real, he’s received from the media and the fans. That’s a good sign if only because when Dawson is motivated and anxious to fight, there are few better.
But even in some of his wins, he did just enough to get by. He seems to get that he can right all of the past wrongs with a strong performance against Hopkins. Hopkins is a talented guy and he’s an overachiever. Dawson has great natural talent, perhaps more than Hopkins, but he’d be on the short list of any compilation of boxing’s biggest underachievers.
If the lethargic, lackadaisical Dawson shows up, Hopkins will mug him. It will be a legitimate fight, though, if Dawson brings the fire that he has shown in interviews.
“I’m here to prove everybody wrong,” Dawson said. “The critics have been doubting me for years. They’ve been throwing me off saying I’m not worthy of this or I’m not worthy of that. But on [Saturday], I will prove to everybody that I’m the best light heavyweight in the world still. And Bernard can’t touch me. He won’t touch me, and I’m going to prove that.”
Perhaps the only one of Dawson’s boxes that hasn’t been checked was the one next to motivation. But if his pre-fight words are an indication, on Sunday morning, that one may be filled as well.