LAS VEGAS– The first word out of Chad Dawson’s mouth after having received THE RING belt signfying his status as the top fighter in the light heavyweight division was “finally.”
The 29-year-old southpaw out of New Haven, Conn., can now claim the mantle of being the sport of boxing’s premiere fighter in his weight class.
Dawson’s majority decision win dethroned the legendary Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) as RING and WBC light heavyweight champion in April.
Dawson joins RING champions Sergio Martinez (middleweight), Andre Ward (light heavyweight) and Wladimir Klitschko (heavyweight), who are ranked Nos. 3, 5 and 7 in THE RING’s top 10 pound-for-pound list.
“It feels good to finally have this in my possession. I mean, I’m excited. I worked hard for this,” said Dawson, who is ranked 10th by THE RING, pound-for-pound.
“The fruits of my labor are finally starting to pay off. I’m excited, like I said. There are a lot of good things in store for me in the future.”
Promoted by Gary Shaw, Dawson (31-1, 17 knockouts) received his honor during a Saturday luncheon at the Wolfgang Puck Restaurant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where his upcoming HBO-televised bout against Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) was announced for Sept. 8 at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, Calif.
“This adds fuel to the fight. We’re both great champions, and I think that this fight is really for the sport’s true boxing fans. I think that it’s great for the sport of boxing,” said Dawson, who will drop to 168 to face the 28-year-old Ward.
“Two young guys like us taking each other on. I mean, it’s a situation where he didn’t have to take the fight and I didn’t have to take the fight. The deal got done, and there was no confusion, no going back and forth, no arguing. Everything went smooth.”
A 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Ward became RING champion for the super middleweight division in December, when he unanimously decisioned Carl Froch to add the Brit’s WBC 168-pound belt to the WBA crown that he already owned in addition to earning him the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup.
Twice a WBC titlewinner, Froch knocked out the previously unbeaten Lucian Bute in the fifth round last month to take the IBF belt. Ward had entered the tournament after consecutive unanimous decisions over Henry Buchanan and Edison Miranda.
Ward more or less brutalized his opposition, out-pointing former four-time beltholder Mikkel Kessler, once-beaten contender Allan Green and former middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham. Prior to facing Abraham, Ward waged war with RING-rated Sakio Bika over 12 rounds in a non-tournament bout.
Dawson called Hopkins his most difficult fight, more so than his two wins over Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, one each over Tomasz Adamek and Adrian Diaconu, and the one loss by an 11th-round technical decision against ex-beltholder Jean Pascal in August of 2010.
“I’ve noticed that Andre and Bernard have similar styles, but Andre is just a lot younger and works a little bit more,” said Dawson of Ward, who considered Hopkins a boxing mentor. “I think that it’s going to be great to have beaten Bernard, and then, to go and defeat somebody who looks up to him.”
But Molina must first get beyond Miguel Angel Munguia (25-23-1, 21 KOs) on June 23, and DeMarco, past a defense against Daniel Estrada (28-2-1, 21 KOs) on July 21.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com