Tonight, the rematch between ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson and ‘The Executioner’ Bernard Hopkins takes place at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City.
Their first fight, back in October of last year, ended in controversy when, in the second round, Dawson effectively shoved Hopkins to the canvas, resulting in an injury to his left shoulder.
The fight was first ruled a TKO victory for Dawson, but which was then overturned after an appeal by Hopkins team. The decision was changed to a ‘No Contest’ and the WBC belt was handed back to Hopkins.
It is hard to take much or analyze the ins and outs as it were from the first fight as not a great deal happened.
Dawson, 30-1-0 with 17 KO’s, played the role of the aggressor, whilst Hopkins, 52-5-2 with 32 KO’s, looked cagey and was on the back foot, as was expected of the 29 year old southpaw and the 47 year old veteran.
Hopkins would break the role of counterpuncher and look to throw the odd lead right hand, which never really connected, then he would hold onto Dawson to save himself having to trade with the younger man.
Dawson became clearly annoyed by this which resulted in him barging Hopkins over when Hopkins went to lean on him.
Hopkins landed awkwardly but Dawson did not actively look to damage his opponent's shoulder; anyone who watches the fight or saw it will have made up their own mind about what happened, as have I.
In my opinion, Hopkins did not particularly look like he was warming into the fight nor did he look like he wanted to. Should Dawson have pushed him when Hopkins leaned? No.
There is also something that doesn’t sit right about the way Hopkins went down. Hopkins is the kind of fighter who been there, seen that and bought the T-shirt. He is the wily old veteran, remember, not Dawson. He’s a Philadelphia fighter and as we all know, they are bred tough.
If you want to see a fighter being thrown, look at Miguel Cotto throwing Joshua Clottey down when he went to hold on. Then go back and look at how easily Hopkins was made airborne by Dawson shoving him.
Make of it what you will, just another humble opinion to throw into the melting pot.
Dawson, as a fighter, is very complete. The one loss on his record is to Jean Pascal via a TKO, which occurred after an accidental head butt. Dawson was ahead on all scorecards.
Before the first Hopkins fight, Dawson was 7-1 in title bouts.
If I had to pick fault then it would be that Dawson can be a bit of a slow starter and considers himself a technician, which he is, looking to break his opponents down round after round, but half the time it looks to me like if he turned it up, switched up a gear, he wouldn’t have needed to go the distance in some of his fights.
Hopkins is, as mentioned, a wily old dog, albeit a dog that still has fight in him, which we should see tonight.
At his best Hopkins can be masterful, and for sure knows plenty of tricks that Dawson probably hasn’t seen before. Let’s not forget that this is the guy who defended his middleweight title 20 times, the first fighter to retain all four sanctioning bodies’ titles in one fight and the oldest boxer ever to win a world title.
We said he would be outworked by Winky Wright and outgunned against Kelly Pavlik, both of whom he took to school.
This time around though, Dawson will want to clear all doubt on any observer's mind that the fighters are evenly matched as he believes, and to be fair, on paper, there is a gulf between them.
Not so much on skill sets, more on age and athleticism.
Hopkins should have enough experience to survive but the odds are stacked against him. Dawson hits hard, has fast hands, good movement and quick reflexes, but will probably have to settle for a points victory.
But then should we really count out the guy who keeps proving us wrong?