Tonight's big Don King/Gary Shaw card from Florida is headlined by a WBC Light Heavyweight title fight between reigning champion Tomasz Adamek and challenger "Bad" Chad Dawson. There's been a lot of speculation about this contest with even the trainers, particularly Dawson's chief second Floyd Mayweather Sr., of both men joining the fray.
Obviously, both camps are confident of their man's chances.
An eight year pro, Adamek, 31-0 (21), is the more experienced man while Dawson, 23-0 (15), is younger and a southpaw. Despite these differences, the two rivals share a commonality between them; spotty records.
As is tradition in the sport, Adamek and Dawson both faced a long series of obscure opponents until they were put in with tougher opposition. For Adamek, this really didn't happen until the 30 year old Pole faced Australia's Paul Briggs for the vacant WBC belt in May of 2005.
Adamek and Briggs waged a true fight of the year affair that Adamek won by majority decision. Adamek then gunned down European Champion Thomas Ulrich in six before again tangling with Briggs in October of last year with the same result as the first clash, although the Polish fighter had to climb off the canvas in the first round.
"Bad Chad" also didn't face a stiff test until far into his career, squaring off with Ian Gardner in 2005 as a super middle. Dawson did well, becoming the first man to stop the iron jawed Canadian, who has spent most of his career at middleweight and most recently fought at 155 lb.
Dawson didn't meet a name opponent again until three fights later when coming up against former world title challenger Eric Harding in June of last year. Initially it looked like disaster for Chad as Harding floored the prospect in the first. But Dawson regained his footing and then gave the native Philadelphian a thorough boxing lesson the rest of the way.
Which brings us to the present. In boxing, past history often means very little in a sport that constantly surprises fans with shocking outcomes such as Hatton vs. Tszyu and Tarver vs. Jones 2. It will be interesting to see if the winner of Adamek vs. Dawson goes on to clashes with the top men at light heavy such as Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver, Clinton Woods, Glen Johnson, Roy Jones, Jr., Silvio Branco...etc.
How would they fare? Would they be able to compete with the light heavyweight elite? Hopkins and Jones in particular have very few fights left in them and seem to be looking for one or two more big money scores before throwing in their chips and would likely not be interested in bouts with either Adamek or Dawson.
Age is a very real factor in today's light heavyweight division as Hopkins is 42, Branco 40, Jones, Tarver and Johnson are all 38 and Clinton Woods is 34. At 30 and 24 respectively, Adamek and Dawson will almost certainly continue on after these aging fighters have retired and will have to contend with opposition such as Zsolt Erdei, Stipe Drews, Paul Briggs, Danny Green, Julio Gonzalez, Hugo Garay...etc.
But back to tonight's bout; Adamek vs. Dawson will almost certainly be competitive and should answer a lot of questions surrounding the future viability of each fighter's career.
For Dawson, it's a litmus test as to whether or not he can go 12 rounds with a determined operator but for Adamek, this is a very dangerous bout. If Dawson loses, it will be considered a learning experience, if Adamek fails to come out on top, he'll be considered just another overrated European fighter.