LOS ANGELES — The Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson headlined card, which takes place at Staples Center on Saturday, has attracted its share of criticism.
Some say the four-bout broadcast shouldn’t be a pay-per-view event. Other say the show, which features five fighters from north East Coast cities (including Hopkins and Dawson), doesn’t belong in Southern California.
However, even the harshest critics of the Golden Boy-Gary Shaw co-promotion agree that the card is comprised of competitive bouts. Even the three non-televised undercard bouts are even matchups.
In fact, the bouts featured on the HBO Pay Per View broadcast will likely feature a lot of fan-friendly action, all of them except for the main event. Hopkins-Dawson is a technician-vs.-boxer matchup with the potential to be a chess match.
Some purists prefer a tactical contest of pure skill, but most hardcore fans, the kind of folks who buy these smaller pay-per-view events, want two-fisted action. Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 knokcouts) is aware of this and, wearing his promoter’s cap at the final press conference on Wednesday, the 46-year-old light heavyweight champ addressed the concern.
“Everybody’s going to get their money’s worth with this show,” Hopkins said at the tail-end of the media event at the JW Marriott at L.A, LIVE that began with the unveiling of his Ripley’s Believe It Or Not wax museum statue.
“My goal is to have the Fight of the Year and to earn the Fighter of the Year award. I want to make history again, and that’s how I’ll do it, because to my knowledge no one in any sport has ever won MVP when they were four years from 50.”
Hopkins says he will need the help of Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), a talented 29-year-old former titleholder who has vowed to box more aggressively against the living legend than he has in recent years.
“I just need him to bring the best out of me,” Hopkins said. “We’re up against the recession, so we have to guarantee fans that we’re going to give them a fight worth their hard-earned money. That’s why I’m begging this guy to do everything he said he is going to do. Because guess what? If he does, boxing wins.”
THE PPV UNDERCARD
Hopkins-Dawson is supported by three world-class matchups, starting with a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout between former 140-pound titleholder Paul Malignaggi and once-beaten fringe contender Orlando Lora.
The second bout of the pay-per-view broadcast, a scheduled 12-round junior welterweight title elimination bout between former beltholder Kendall Holt and young, undefeated contender Danny Garcia, might be the most explosive on the card. The two East Coast boxer-punchers promised a KO victory after exchanging heated words at Wednesday’s press conference.
The final supporting bout features two cooler heads, talented former two-division titleholder Jorge Linares and top-10 contender Antonio DeMarco, but the lightweights are expected to put on a quality fight during their scheduled 12 rounder for the vacant WBC lightweight title.
DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs), a rangy southpaw from Los Mochis, Mexico, who is so soft spoken that it’s hard to believe he fights for a living, was his usual gracious self during his time behind the podium at the press conference.
The 25-year-old contender thanked Linares, who he recognized as “a great boxer,” and Linares’ new trainer Freddie Roach, who he called “the best coach in the U.S.,” but he added “We’re not going to make the same mistake we made against Linares’ countryman Edwin Valero, we’re going to be ready.”
DeMarco’s last loss was a ninth-round stoppage to the late Valero, who like Linares was a native of Venezuela, in a failed bid for the WBC lightweight title held by the brutal KO artist.
When asked what the mistake was in his first title shot DeMarco told RingTV.com:
“No excuses, I lost to the better man that night, but I did not expect or prepare for what I got in the ring. I thought Valero was a brawler but he boxed more than he usually did against me. I wasn’t ready for that. I’ll be ready for whatever Linares brings on Saturday. We will adjust if need be. I can box or be the aggressor.”
Some insiders believe Linares (31-1, 20 KOs) possesses elite-level talent that DeMarco cannot prepare for. However, the 26-year-old Venezuelan isn’t taking DeMarco lightly. Linares, who has held titles at 126 and 130 pounds, says he’s just finished one of the best camps of his career.
“We’ve been around the world during this camp,” he said through co-trainer Alex Ariza. “Freddie took me to Colorado where he’s training the U.S. amateur team. I trained and sparred there for a few weeks before we flew to the Philippines where Manny Pacquiao and I helped each other prepare for our upcoming fights. And now we are back in L.A. where I know I’ll have a tough fight with DeMarco.”
Holt (27-4, 15 KOs), a quick counter puncher with sneaky power from Patterson, N.J., wasn’t as gracious to Garcia as Linares and DeMarco were to each other. The 30-year-old veteran felt disrespected by his opponent’s trainer and father Angel Garcia, who ranted and raved about Holt spewing “monkey s__t” on Twitter and at the early press tour conference in New York City.
“He can talk about ‘monkey s__t’ all he wants but he’s not the one who’s going to get hit by this right hand,” Holt said. “He’s not the one who’s going to get hit by this left hook and this uppercut.
“Danny Garcia brags that he’s almost got as many knockouts on his record as I do, but who has he fought? I’ve knocked out some of the best.”
Holt, who has scored stoppages against former beltholders David Diaz, Ricardo Torres and Julio Diaz, believes he brings too much to the table for Garcia to handle.
“He’s never been hit by someone who can hit like me, by punches he doesn’t see coming because of my speed. He’s never been in with someone of my experience,” he said. “If it wasn’t for (promoter) Golden Boy Promotions and (manager) Al Haymon feeding him all this baby food, he wouldn’t be here.”
Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs), a 23-year-old boxer-puncher from Philadelphia, does not agree.
“I’m ready to fight the best. That’s why I’m in the business. That’s why I’m fighting Kendall Holt,” said Garcia, who out-pointed former unified lightweight titleholder Nate Campbell in his last bout in April.
“The Campbell fight was part of my growing process. I learned a lot in those 10 rounds. I needed it to get to the next stage. I’m ready for Holt and I’m going to prove it to him by knocking him out. It’s going to be an action fight because we’re both bringing power.”
Nobody’s expecting a show of power in the opening pay-per-view bout — Maligning (29-4, 6 KOs) isn’t known for his power and Lora isn’t known at all, but that doesn’t mean the welterweight bout won’t provide action.
Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs), a former 2000 Mexican Olympian from Culiacan, is eager to prove himself against the better-known former titleholder.
“I have to show that I belong at this level,” said the 30-year-old veteran, who has won two bouts since suffering the only loss of his career, an eighth-round stoppage to David Estrada last April.
Malignaggi, a Brooklyn native now living in Los Angeles, is eager to put on a good show and he thinks Lora will help him do that.
“I’ve seen some tape on Lora, he tries to box a little and he likes to go to the body,” Malignaggi told RingTV.com. “He’s not overly fast, but he’s physically strong and big, which makes me think he might be the aggressor against me because he sees me as a smaller guy coming up and because of my reputation for being a light puncher.”
The 30-year-old veteran said he’s going to surprise the bigger man.
“I want to impose my speed and style on him right away,” Malignaggi said. “I had a slow start in my last fight (against Jose Cotto). Not this time. I want to take it to him and pile up punches. People say I can’t punch, but if my hands hold up, I can keep the volume up and wear guys down. I can get more knockouts and I might start with Lora.”
Former welterweight titleholder Luis Collazo, best known for giving former champ Ricky Hatton and two-time titleholder Andre Berto hell in controversial split-decision losses, highlights the very solid off-TV portion of the Hopkins-Dawson card.
Collazo (31-4, 16 KOs), of Brooklyn, N.Y., takes on capable former title challenger Freddy Hernandez (29-2, 20 KOs), of Mexico City, in a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight bout.
Welterweight prospect Michael Anderson (11-0-1, 9 KOs), of Newark, N.J., take on former prospect Nick Casal (21-4-1, 16 KOs), of Niagra Falls, N.Y., in a scheduled eight-round bout.
Middleweight standout Kurtis Colvin (6-0, 5 KOs), of Austin, Texas, faces fellow unbeaten prospect Donyil Livingston (5-0-1, 3 KOs) in the four- or six-round opening bout of the card.
The debut of 52-year-old Dewey Bozella, whose dream was to box in at least one professional boxing match after serving 26 years in prison on wrongful murder charge, will finally take place against Larry Hopkins (0-3), of Houston, Texas (obviously no relation to the light heavyweight champ, who opened his camp to Bozella).
The scheduled four-round cruiserweight bout precedes the pay-per-view portion of the card, but highlights of the incredible human interest story might be shown on the broadcast.
Photos by Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions.