Light heavyweight contender Chad Dawson says RING champion Bernard Hopkins was afraid to directly face him at Wednesday’s New York press conference, and vows that their HBO-televised rematch will not go beyond six rounds.
Dawson (30-1, 17 knockouts) will get his second shot at the WBC and RING belts owned by Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) on April 28 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, his first being a controversial clash last Oct. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Hopkins-Dawson I was initially ruled to be a second-round TKO victory for Dawson after Hopkins was shoved to the canvas and deemed unfit to continue by referee Pat Russell. Hopkins, who turned 47 on Jan. 15, was diagnosed with a left shoulder separation as a result of the incident.
In succession, the WBC restored Hopkins as titleholder following a majority vote by its membership, the California State Athletic Commission ruled the bout a no-contest, and the WBC mandated an automatic return bout to clear up the matter.
In December of last year, Hopkins rose from two knockdowns during his draw with RING light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal in the latter’s native Canada. He returned to Canada and dethroned Pascal as WBC and RING beltholder by unanimous decision in May.
In victory over Pascal, Hopkins became the oldest man to win a major title in boxing. Before facing Hopkins, Pascal had vanquished Dawson in defense of his WBC belt by 11th-round technical decision in August of last year.
But in this Q&A with RingTV.com, Dawson, 29, says the he will relieve Hopkins of his belt, if not his senses.
RingTV.com: Do you feel that you are the man who should be wearing the WBC belt right now?
Chad Dawson: I do. And I’m going into this fight to prove a point. Obviously, the world title is on the line and it’s an opportunity for me to get back on top of the light heavyweight division.
But I’m going into this fight to prove a point. I’m going to show everybody that in the last fight, Bernard Hopkins found a way out of the fight so that he didn’t have to fight me.
But this time around, at the end of the day, like I’ve been telling everybody, you’ve got to face your worst fears. Everybody has a worst fear, and they’ve got to face that. Bernard’s living that right now in facing me.
RTV: What are your feelings about why the fight ended the way that it did?
CD: Because, from the first round on — and I don’t think this, I know this — that from the first round on, Bernard Hopkins saw how phyiscally strong I was and he realized that he couldn’t manhandle me or do anything with me.
Once Bernard saw how big and how strong I was, up close and personal with my shirt off and everything, I think that it really changed his mindset about what was in front of him and I think that he just found a way out of the fight.
RTV: Having been in the ring with Hopkins already, how will that help you?
CD: Just having been in the ring with him, I’m even more confident, because I know that this guy is scared of me. It’s not something that I’m just saying to sell a fight.
But I want people to see that it’s really the truth. When I think about it, you know, I just want to just hit him.
RTV: Did you feel that way about Hopkins when you saw him at today’s press conference?
CD: He didn’t want to do the staredown or the faceoff today. He only said a couple of things and then he walked away. He was scared. He’s in a position that he doesn’t want to be in. I’ve said that in the past, and I’m sticking to it.
RTV: What more have you done to improve on yourself for Hopkins since your last fight?
CD: I’m just building on it. Even those two rounds that we got in, I feel like those two rounds were enough to tell me that I can beat him.
That’s told me enough about Bernard Hopkins and who he is as a person. It tells me what I need to know as far as what he’s going to do on April 28.
RTV: What’s the difference between the Hopkins that fought Pascal twice and the Dawson that fought Pascal, and why do you feel that your style is troublesome to Hopkins?
CD: It’s just that Bernard knows who he can beat and who he can’t beat. Every man knows that. Every fighter can look at another fighter and say, “well, that guy might be a problem for me.”
But with Bernard, in my case, when he looks at me, it’s like, “I can’t do nothing with this guy.” That’s the reality of this fight. I don’t think that he’s going to make it to the finish.
RTV: So do you have a prediction on this fight?
CD: Yeah, if it happens that Bernard comes to fight, then it’s going to be Chad Dawson, sixth-round knockout. That’s how confident I am after the two rounds that we had.
After the two rounds that I’ve been in the ring with this man, that’s how confident I am. He poses no threat. It’s my being young, strong and showing everybody that I can take a punch.
I’m not saying that Bernard isn’t a big puncher or anything, but I’m willing to take something from him just to get in that one knockout blow. It’s going to be everything.
People just don’t understand. Only I know what’s going to be going on in that ring against Bernard. He doesn’t want to fight me.
Photo by Jeff Fusco, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org