Lem Satterfield

Fired-up Dawson has new trainer, new attitude

Former WBC and IBF light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson is approaching the biggest fight of his life, and he’s made some changes to get ready for it.

Earlier this month, he made the switch from legendary trainer Manny Steward to a former instructor, John Scully, and also has sought advisory assistance from former titleholder Winky Wright.

Contrary to reports, the 29-year-old Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) said that his decision had nothing to do with a desire to be closer to his home in New Haven, Conn.

Neither did it hinge primarily on the fact that he wanted to conduct his workouts in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania while Steward preferred his Detroit-based Kronk Gym.

“First and foremost, I do have a newborn, but I never stated or made any comments saying that I wanted to be closer to home for training. When it was time to get into training camp, I was in training camp, and I’ve been in camp for about five weeks now,” said Dawson during Wednesday’s national conference call.

“Me and Scully started working together when I was at home, so we’ve got about six weeks in. It never had anything to do with me wanting to be closer to my family. I’m hear to do a job, and in order for my family to eat, this is what I’ve got to do. I’m sacrificing, and this is what I have to do.”

Dawson’s move, he said, has more do to with his desire to be the first man to score a knockout against RING and WBC beltholder Bernard Hopkins on Oct. 15. At 46, Hopkins scored a rematch victory over Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) by unanimous decision in May to become the oldest man in the sport to win a significant title belt.

Even having said that, though, Dawson predicts a victory by unanimous decision, saying that he wants to throw 1,000 to 1,200 punches and “dethrone the old man.”

“I felt like in order be myself again, and to go back to the days when I was knocking guys out and showing guys what I’m made of, that I had to go back to my old roots,” said Dawson, who worked with Scully for three fights through early 2005.

“Since we’ve been back in camp together, I’ve picked up so much. It’s like we picked up right where we left off.”
Steward had debuted in the corner of Dawson for his unanimous decision over ex-titleholder Adrian Diaconu (27-3, 15 KOs) in May.

“My last fight, I was with Emanuel Steward. Emanuel Steward is a great trainer, and I have nothing but respect for him. But, you know, I felt like in order for me to win this fight, I had to be the old me,” said Dawson, whose past trainers have also included Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Dan Birmingham.

“I made the decision to return to John Scully, and to me, it was a great move and it was just what I needed. I had to be that Chad Dawson that everybody used to see earlier in my career a few years ago.”

Steward replaced Dawson’s previous trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad following Dawson’s 11th-round, technical decision loss to Pascal in August of last year. The decision went to the scorecards after Dawson suffered a severe cut over one of his eyes following a clash of heads.

“The Pascal fight, I know I was on the way to a knockout before the headbutt happened. I took my first loss like a man, didn’t cry or complain…I was a bored fighter. I lost to Pascal, and that’s a fight that I should have never lost. If I had Scully in my corner, that wouldn’t have happened,” said Dawson.

“My performance was lazy. I think Scully’s the trainer who has the ability to bring the best out of me. I don’t care what the critics say about my switching trainers here and there. I’m doing what I have to do for my career and my family. You’ll get to see the hungry Chad Dawson, and the fire in my eyes. I’m back and I’m on top of my game.”

While camped out in Detroit at the Kronk Gym, where he was preparing middleweight Andy Lee for Saturday’s rematch with Bryan Vera, Steward sanctioned Scully as “a good choice.”

“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,” said Steward.

“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. At this stage right now, and for this situation…I think that it works out good for everybody.”

Scully was with Dawson against Darnell Wilson, Carl Daniels and Efrain Garcia, respectively, for a 10-round decision in October of 2004, a seventh-round knockout in December of 2004 and a fourth-round stoppage in April of 2005.

“Not knocking any of my past trainers or anything like that, but working with Scully back in the day, that’s when I was the most happy. I was learning, I was stopping guys, I was knocking guys out,” said Dawson.

“I regret ever parting with Scully. I’ve regretted that for some time. I got to work with some great trainers, Floyd Sr. and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, but this is where I feel more comfortable, with Scully.”

The reunion has gone well, said Scully, who attributed their initial separation to Dawson’s promotional and managerial issues at the time, adding that it “had nothing to do with us personally.”

“Obviously, as a fighter, he’s better, he’s stronger, he’s a grown man now and he’s much more mature. The first day that we worked together, I was curious how it would be in terms of me relating to him and him relating to me considering all of the success that he’s had since we last worked together,” said Scully.

“But from the first 10 seconds of the first round on the pads, it felt exactly as it did back then. He’s very, very coach-able, and to his credit, having been near the top of the pound-for-pound list, he’s still very open to learning new things. It’s literally felt like we haven’t missed a beat during all of those years.”

A southpaw like Dawson, Wright lost a unanimous decision to Hopkins in July of 2007.

“Winky Wright knows all of the dirty tricks that Bernard is going to try to pull, and he’s advised me of those things,” Dawson said of the 39-year-old Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs).

“He’s been keeping me aware and alert, and on the night of the fight, you will see the young and smart fighter that I am. On Oct. 15, I’m going to be a master boxer.”

Dawson’s promoter, Gary Shaw, said that the fighter looks much improved.

“With the team that’s in camp, and with Herman Woodard as Chad’s adviser, I was up in camp yesterday, and I’ve never seen Chad in a better mood,” said Shaw.

“I’ve never seen him happier, and I’ve never seen him look sharper. I have to believe that this is the best training camp that he’s had, and he’s seems to be very comfortable with everybody in it.”

Dawson agrees.

“The loss to Pascal was a blessing in disguise. I’ve got the opportunity that I’ve always wanted, and that’s a fight with Bernard Hopkins.This is another opportunity to prove the critics wrong and Bernard Hopkins wrong. This will shut everybody up and prove that I’m still the best light heavyweight in the world,” said Dawson.

“The critics have been saying that I’m not this and I’m not that, but on Oct. 15, I will prove to everybody that Bernard Hopkins can’t touch me, and he won’t touch me. I’m going to prove that.”



Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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