Light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson has left trainer John Scully and returned to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad in an attempt to rebound from September’s 10th-round knockout loss to super middleweight champ Andre Ward, according to Scully and Muhammad.
A 30-year-old who dropped to 168 pounds to face Ward, Dawson (31-2, 17 knockouts) could not be reached for comment.
Dawson is hopeful of a rematch with Jean Pascal in March, after Pascal won their initial bout — his last with Muhammad — by 11th-round technical decision in August of 2010. Pascal-Dawson I went to the scorecards after Dawson suffered a severe cut over one of his eyes following a clash of heads.
Scully said he has not had a conversation since the aftermath of the loss to Ward with Dawson, whom Muhammad said has moved with his family from New Haven, Conn., to Las Vegas, where he has spent the past four weeks working with Muhammad.
Scully said his suspicions were confirmed through a friend, who apprised him of a video interview with Dawson that had surfaced on the internet.
“I haven’t heard one word from him, literally, since the night of the fight. I have not spoken one word with Chad Dawson since then. But I heard about it [reunion with Muhammad] a week ago. There is a video of Chad in the gym, and I guess that he’s working with Eddie again. So he’s back with Eddie. In the interview, he hinted that it had something to do with me, but then he says that it was the [loss of] weight that was the problem. I’m like, ‘Which is it? The weight or is it me?’ But they already knew,” said Scully, with whom Dawson had won three fights through early 2005.
“The weight-loss was brutal, and he’s still with the guy [strength and conditioning coach Axel Murillo] who had him losing weight in that manner. When we got to Las Vegas on July 7, he was 182. It was 111 degrees. But on Aug. 13, he weighed 184. Now, that’s five weeks in 100-plus degree weather, running every day and doing the whole nine yards. Yet he gains two pounds? I’ve been reading Axel’s accounts of how we trained and did things, and I can punch holes in what Axel is saying like Swiss cheese. Axel is literally lying through his teeth about what happened.”
“We’ve been training now, I guess, this is going on our fourth week together,” said Muhammad. “I’m like this: I didn’t have any animosity toward him leaving because I know what type of teacher I am.”
As a fighter, Muhammad (50-8-1, 39 KOs) knocked out Marvin Johnson in the 11th round for the WBA’s light heavyweight title in March of 1980, and defended it twice by knockout over Jerry Martin and Rudy Koopmans.
Over the course of his career, Muhammad vanquished former titleholder Matthew Saad Muhammad, and went the distance in losses to Michael Spinks, Renaldo Snipes, Bennie Briscoe, Victor Galindez and James Scott.
“I’m not saying that I’m the best at this or the best at that, but I’m a person that has been 15 rounds in the trenches and knows how to handle himself. At the end of the day, I have nothing against the guys that he went with like Emanuel and John Scully,” said Muhummad.
“I have nothing against those guys. But I know what I bring to the table. Chad’s forgotten a few things that I brought to the table, but when we went over them and started to do them again, I saw a smile on his face, like, ‘Damn, how did I forget that.’ Just some simple things.”
Muhammad said that he and Dawson made peace over a meal that involved each of their family members.
“With Chad, myself, his family, my family, we had a breakfast reunion, both families. His sons, my daughters, his wife, my wife. We had a nice breakfast one Sunday morning. I hadn’t seen Chad since that breakfast,” said Muhammad.
“And he just flat out told me, ‘Man, I made a mistake.’ I appreciated that. I said, ‘Well, hey, let’s get back to work, and let’s correct those mistakes.’ I don’t know what broke us up, and, again, I didn’t have any animosity toward him. I just said, ‘Listen, this is business.'”
Steward worked Dawson’s unanimous decision over ex-beltholderAdrian Diaconu in May of 2011 before Dawson named Scully as his new trainer, a move, he said had more do to with his desire to be the first man to score a knockout against then-RING and WBC 175-pound beltholder Bernard Hopkins.
While reunited with Scully, Dawson rebounded from a no-decision in October of 2011 with a majority decision victory that dethroned Hopkins for his current RING and WBC belts in April of last year. Hopkins was coming off a unanimous decision victory over Pascal that made the then-46-year-old Hopkins the oldest man in the sport to win a significant title belt.
Early on, Scully had guided Dawson to victories over Darnell Wilson, Carl Daniels and Efrain Garcia for a 10-round decision in October of 2004, a seventh-round knockout in December of 2004 and a fourth-round stoppage in April of 2005, respectively.
Dawson, who has also worked with Floyd Mayweather Sr., Dan Birmingham, Brian Clark, Gaspar Ortega and Shaun Raysor, explained his reasons for leaving Steward for Scully during an interview with RingTV.com in September of 2011.
“Not knocking any of my past trainers or anything like that, but working with Scully back in the day, that’s when I was the most happy. I was learning, I was stopping guys, I was knocking guys out. I regret ever parting with Scully. I’ve regretted that for some time. I got to work with some great trainers, Floyd Sr. and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, but this is where I feel more comfortable, with Scully. I felt like in order be myself again, and to go back to the days when I was knocking guys out and showing guys what I’m made of, that I had to go back to my old roots,” said Dawson at the time.
“Since we’ve been back in camp together, I’ve picked up so much. It’s like we picked up right where we left off. My last fight, I was with Emanuel Steward. Emanuel Steward is a great trainer, and I have nothing but respect for him. But, you know, I felt like in order for me to win this fight, I had to be the old me. I made the decision to return to John Scully, and to me, it was a great move and it was just what I needed. I had to be that Chad Dawson that everybody used to see earlier in my career a few years ago.”
Like Mustafa, Steward gave Dawson his blessing.
“First of all, [Scully] is a good trainer, and No. 2, he’s trained Chad before, earlier in his career,” said Steward, who died in October at the age of 68. “And No. 3, he’s right there close to Chad’s home..At this stage right now, and for this situation…I think that it works out good for everybody.”
While preparing for Dawson for Ward, who floored the boxer three times, Scully said Dawson thanked him for his encouraging words after being dropped by former contender and sparring partner Edison Miranda during a workout.
“That was during our last quarter of training. Chad had gotten dropped, but he got up and he actually finished the round as well as the next round, and then the next day, he looked really good again. The myth was that he got knocked out, but he was not knocked out,” said Scully.
“But I knew that after he had some issues mentally as a fighter and as a human being, so I texted him something very positive, and he texted me back and said, ‘That’s why I brought you back into my camp, and that’s why you’re a great trainer.’ He said, ‘That’s exactly why I brought you back, because of stuff like this.’ This sickens me, because I’ve known this fighter since he was a kid, spoke up for him when I thought things were wrong, and I did my best for him.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org