Southpaw former WBC and IBF lightheavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson will be trained by former instructor John Scully with advisory assistance from former titleholder Winky Wright as he prepares to face RING and WBC beltholder Bernard Hopkins at The Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.
Scully and Wright replace legendary trainer Manny Steward, who had debuted in the corner of the 29-year-old Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) for his unanimous decision over ex-titleholder Adrian Diaconu (27-3, 15 KOs) in May.
Dawson is set to challenge the 46-year-old Hopkins (53-5-2, 32 KOs) in the wake of Hopkins’ having dethroned Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) by unanimous decision to become the oldest man in the sport to win a significant title belt.
Steward replaced Dawson’s former trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, following Dawson’s 11th-round, technical decision loss to Pascal, Prior to that, Dawson had been trained separately by Scully, Floyd Mayweather, Sr. and Dan Birmingham.
In August of last year, Dawson lost an 11th-round technical decision to Pascal, who also had battled Hopkins to a disputed draw in December of last year.
“Well, I think that the selection of John Scully is a good choice,” said Steward, in his first public comments about Scully. “First of all, he is a good trainer, and No. 2, he’s trained Chad before, earlier in his career. And No. 3, he’s right there close to Chad’s home.”
“Right now, I’m focused on Andy Lee, so I need to be here for that and that’s what we’re remaining focused on,” said Steward. “At this stage right now, and for this situation, Chad is very concerned about wanting to be close to home. I think that it works out good for everybody.”
A resident of New Haven, Conn., Dawson wanted to train closer to home with his wife and newborn son.
“It wasn’t an ugly separation by any means. I have a world of respect for Emanuel and I know he’s top-notch. But we couldn’t get them to travel to one another, so there was no other choice but to move on,” said Dawson’s promoter Gary Shaw.
“Chad’s training camp is in Pennsylvania. He didn’t want to train in Detroit again for this fight. But with all of his commitments and responsibilities, it wasn’t feasible for Emanuel to stay in the Poconos that long. So they’ve parted ways amicably and John Scully is back in, with Winky Wright providing his expert eye.”
A southpaw like Dawson, Wright lost a unanimous decision to Hopkins in July of 2007.
“I’m here to just fine-tune little things that John and I feel he needs to work on. John is the coach, and we are working together very well,” said the 39-year-old Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs, who is not retired and who will not be in Dawson’s corner on fight night.
“Bernard is sneaky and crafty, but I think that Chad has a style that can beat him. He’s tall and quick, with a good defense and hand speed. He can move, but he’s not scared to get in there and fight. Bernard wants to try and take you out of your fight. Chad doesn’t need to do that. He needs to do what we’re showing him and make Hopkins fight our fight. We can win this.”
“Scully knows how to go to get me in shape,” said Dawson. “With him in my corner, you will see a return of the Chad Dawson from 2007/2008 in this fight. I am the best light heavyweight in the world and I’m going to prove it.”
Scully said that he welcomes the reunion with Dawson as well as the assistance of Wright.
“I’ve always said that training [Dawson] was one of the most positive experiences of my career and I always felt we had a very good working relationship. As a former champion and a great southpaw, Winky’s knowledge obviously speaks for itself,” said Scully.
“Plus he’s been in the ring with Bernard and knows all the little tricks Bernard will try. He has a special insight into the boxing game, and into this fight in particular, that can’t be overlooked. He’s a very good guy, very respectful, doesn’t step on anyone’s toes. He speaks up if he sees something that needs to be spoken about.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org