Lem Satterfield

Lem’s latest: Dawson wants KO; Mitchell, Witherspoon gear up

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ATLANTIC CITY — No matter how you size up Saturday’s HBO-televised light heavyweight clash at Boardwalk Hall, challenger Chad Dawson says RING and WBC champion Bernard Hopkins is going down.

“We have a good plan. I am not thinking about a close decision. I don’t see it happening that way at all,” said Dawson, 29, of the rematch with his 47-year-old adversary. “The last fight, he had no fire in his eyes. I could look at him from across the ring and I saw he didn’t want to be there that night.”

When they met in October of last year, Dawson simply roughed up the older Hopkins, whom Dawson said he had pursued for nearely three years, before the fight was cut short.

Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 knockouts) was diagnosed with a left shoulder separation following what was initially ruled to be a second-round TKO victory for Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) — and later a no-contest — after Hopkins was shoved to the canvas and deemed unfit to continue by referee Pat Russell.

The ruling allowed Hopkins to retain his belts, but on Saturday night, Dawson has vowed to pick up where he left off.

“There weren’t that many punches thrown, but I did land a good left hand in the first round and I think right there is the point where he figured it out,” said Dawson. “I think he realized that I was serious and that I’m not a joke…I was going to be crowned the light heavyweight champion that night.”

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In December of 2010, Hopkins rose from two knockdowns to salvage a draw with former RING light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal in Canada.

In his next fight, Hopkins, then 46, returned to Pascal’s home turf and defeated him by unanimous decision to claim THE RING and WBC belts, becoming the oldest man to win a major championship in boxing.

Dawson, meanwhile, had been maligned for losing an 11th-round technical decision to Pascal in August of 2010, also in Canada, owing to his failure to finish off Pascal when he had him hurt during moments of the fight.

“I have taken criticism in the past for my low punch output and for people saying that I wasn’t in the best of shape, being a fighter who doesn’t look like he’s into the fight. But on that night, Chad Dawson was all there physically and mentally. I’m here to finish off what should have happened the last time out,” said Dawson, who replaced Manny Steward with former trainer, John Scully, for Hopkins.

“Do I want a knockout? Definitely, I want a knockout. I want to be the first person to knock Bernard Hopkins out. That would be great for me, for my image, and for boxing. But am I going to go out there looking for the knockout? No. I’m just going to let the knockout come to me. I know that I’m stronger, faster, and you will definitely see the strength and size difference, just like you did the last fight.”

The only way Hopkins goes the distance, said Dawson, is if he turns in a stinker of an effort and fights in survival mode.

“It all depends on how Bernard comes in the ring. If he comes to fight, that is great,” said Dawson. “If he comes to lie down like he did last time, then I feel sorry for the people that bought tickets or are going to watch on HBO.”

FIGHT OFFICIALS

Hopkins-Dawson II will be refereed by New Jersey-based Eddie Cotton, with the judges being Steve Weisfeld (New Jersey), Luis Rivera (New York) and Richard Flaherty (Massachusetts).

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MITCHELL WANTS TO PROVE HE’S AMERICA’S BEST HEAVYWEIGHT PROSPECT

On the Hopkins-Dawson undercard, unbeaten heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell (24-0-1, 18 KOs), of Brandywine, Md., will take on the more-experienced Chazz Witherspoon (30-2, 22 KOs) in a fight that both men view as the gateway to becoming America’s next heavyweight star.

A 29-year-old former scholarship linebacker at Michigan State who was named Maryland’s Defensive Player of the Year at Gwynn Park High by the Associated Press, Mitchell graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice.

Sparked by his watching the professional debut of future Baltimore Ravens’ safety Tom Zbikowski at Madison Square Garden in June of 2006, Mitchell recalls that his introduction into the sport was a rough one.

“It takes a different man to step into the boxing ring. It’s just different. I said, ‘this ain’t like football.’ It’s tough getting punched in the face. I never wanted to quit, but it’s not like the glory of football, where you can’t wait to get out there. I don’t have that feeling in boxing,” said Mitchell, who went 9-1 as an amateur, with all of his victories being by knockout, before signing with Golden Boy Promotions in 2006 after his first professional bout.

“It’s more of, not a fear, but it’s scary, knowing that it only takes one shot to end it. In a football game, you can be down 21-0, rally, and come back and win 42-28. In boxing, you can be better than a person, but the stakes are so high, it only takes one shot and you can drop so far down. That’s the anxiety you get when you walk into the ring. To go in there and get knocked out cold and then pick yourself up and be able to walk around with your head up, boxing is definitely tougher than football. It’s more of a challenge, and I love challenges.”

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