RING and WBC light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins hasn’t had a knockout since September of 2004, when Oscar De La Hoya was stopped for the first time in his career thanks to a ninth-round body shot.
The 46-year-old Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) says that he’s about due for another stoppage victory, and that there is no better time to go for it than against former WBC and IBF beltholder Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) when they meet at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.
“Fans like knockouts, and I think that the last time I had a knockout was in 2004, so I’m about due. That’s what they want in the sports world,” said Hopkins.
“That’s what fans consider to be more eye-catching than going 12 rounds and winning every round or whatever. I think that they would rather see that, especially when you’ve got a 46-year-old guy fighting a 29-year-old guy. You know, there’s a risk in that.”
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, this, after having battled to a disputed draw with Pascal in December.
Already the holder of a record 20 title defenses as the former undisputed middleweight champion, Hopkins said that he plans to outdo himself against Dawson.
“I’m going to stand in there and withstand whatever onslaught Chad has. I’m going to out-do the 24 rounds that I put together in the first and second fight with Jean Pascal, without the push-ups,” said Hopkins, referring to when he actually dropped and executed a set of push-ups as he waited for Pascal to leave his corner during their second fight.
“I’ve been in enough close decisions, and I know my abilities. I know that I have a great chin. I know that I have great boxing ability, and I know that I can bite down and be that tough, Philadelphia fighter that I need to be. It’s going to be important for me to make it a dogfight.”
Hopkins rose from two early knockdowns to salvage the draw in the initial meeting with Pascal, and said he’s willing to do similarly against Dawson.
“I’m just going to bring it, and I won’t be surprised if either of us touches the canvas. We’re fighters, and I believe that that’s a 100 percent possibility,” said Hopkins. “And you know what? I’m not going to have a problem fighting like that, because I’m not going to be the one who is looking for sympathy.”
“No matter who you have in your corner, you’re facing Bernard Hopkins, and you’re facing a legend. That’s going to be very difficult to overcome for Chad Dawson. I believe Chad Dawson’s going to come out with guns blazing. That’s his only chance,” said De La Hoya.
“But that can also be disaster against Bernard Hopkins, who is not just a boxer and a master technician, but also a fighter who finishes fights. The young gun has to go after the old lion, but the old lion has many miles to give, so we could wind up seeing a brawl.”
Dawson said that his move to Scully will assist in his desire to be the first man to score a knockout against Hopkins, who scored a unanimous decision over Wright in July of 2007.
Steward debuted in Dawson’s corner for his unanimous decision over ex-titleholder Adrian Diaconu (27-3, 15 KOs) in May, having replaced Dawson’s previous trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, following Dawson’s 11th-round, technical decision loss to Pascal in August of last year.
In addition to Steward, Muhammad and Scully, Dawson also has worked with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Dan Birmingham.
“For whatever reason, Chad Dawson hasn’t been a guy who can stay with a trainer for more than a couple of years. Chad’s switched many trainers in the past four or five years, which shows you that he’s not comfortable being taught by the best. I mean, Eddie Mustafa, I highly respect him, and I only consider him a few notches beneath Emanuel Steward when it comes to boxing knowledge,” said Hopkins.
“Plus, Eddie boxed for many years as a light heavyweight. Emanuel Steward being there, he was going to give him the ultimate information. So Chad’s going to have to prove that it’s not going to affect him. He’s got to try to motivate himself and prove that he can still do it without one of the masters of the game.”
But Hopkins said that it won’t matter who Dawson has in his corner on fight night.
“Whoever Chad’s going to have in his corner, you know, that doesn’t really affect me. It’s a thing where he’s entitled to choose whoever he wants to have in his corner, and if he thinks that someone else is the right guy, then, so be it,” said Hopkins.
“But as far as I’m concerned, to be honest with you, man, it just doesn’t matter. The only problem that I would have is if God is on his side. In fact, that’s the only entity that can help him is God, and I mean that sincerely. The only person who can help Chad Dawson is God.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org