Boxing

Chad "Bad" Dawson and Everything that is Wrong with Boxing

02.10.08 - By John Alutus- Let me remind everyone it's less than two weeks to the Tarver v. Dawson fight. American boxing hacks have been working overtime for months and have exhausted a seemingly endless list of superlatives to hype up this fight! And yet, we, the fans, just don't seem to give a damn! "The Battle of the Light-Heavyweight Kingpins!", "The fight who will decide the best Light-Heavyweight in the World!!", "The most significant Light-Heavyweight World Championship fight in Years!!!", they go overboard. And it's all falling rather flat.... And not surprisingly, either! In Chad Dawson's own words: "Tarver is definitely past his prime! He ain't done anything in his last five fights! He's slow. He's old. He's a scared fighter! He knows and everybody knows what's going to happen on October 11th. He knows that too!"

Yes, he does know, Chad, and yes, we all know too, what's going to happen. This most predictable of walkovers has no appeal for us; it doesn't make the heart beat faster; it leaves us bored and cold. This fight is meaningless, except in that it will prove a point to Tarver, supposedly, and give him one last big payday, before retirement. But he knows that too, right, Chad, so he is happy to play along. And the people that run the sports books where Tarver is a 3 to 1 underdog know it too! So, it's all about the money, of course. So why should we fans care again, Chad?

Personally, I care because there was a much better fight that could have taken place on the 11th of October: Chad Dawson v. Adrian Diaconu, for the WBC Light-Heavyweight title. Dawson, however, gave up his WBC belt and a purse of over one million dollars for the privilege of ducking Adrian Diaconu. Adrian Who?

On the 9th of May 2007, Diaconu earned his place as mandatory challenger to Dawson's WBC title with an emphatic three round brutal demolition of Rico Hoye. Chad Dawson, however, had other plans. He was chasing a fight with Antonio Tarver instead. It made sense, after all! Tarver, had looked faded, unmotivated and lacking in focus against Bernard Hopkins the previous year, and he seemed easy prey. A "W" against the faded Tarver would represent just the trophy win required to augment his profile and help him enter the big-bucks pick-and-choose league of American boxing. Tarver however, didn't give in to Dawson's advances. He wasn't ready for retirement. Whilst trying to draw Tarver in, Dawson voluntarily defended his WBC title against aged journeyman Jesus Ruiz.

Under pressure to arrange a fight against mandatory challenger Adrian Diaconu and having failed to interest Tarver in a fight against him, Chad Dawson unwillingly relented. After seemingly endless negotiations, he agreed to face his mandatory Diaconu on the 29th of September in Sacramento, California. It was a much anticipated fight between the two best young contenders in an aged division. The clash of styles presented a mouth-watering prospect – the aggressive, explosive but fairly limited puncher against the smooth, fast, versatile but weak-chinned and tactically ill-disciplined boxer – but both prime, live, unbeaten and hungry for success and acclaim, and both with much to prove: Dawson had the opportunity of proving his chin and mental strength; Diaconu – his class and skill.

Ten days before the fight, disaster struck; Diaconu injured his hand in training – an MRI scan revealed bone contusions in his right hand and Diaconu was forced to pull out. At very short notice, aged, faded journeyman Epifanio Mendoza stepped in to give Dawson a stay busy fight and keep the card alive and the TV networks happy.

Diaconu came back from injury in October and he was promptly reinstated as mandatory challenger to Dawson by the WBC. Here, the story turns sour.

Dawson argued that since Diaconu had pulled out, he shouldn't have to fight him. He argued that his fight against Mendoza should count as a mandatory defence of his title and that Diaconu's status as mandatory challenger should be revoked. The WBC, rightfully, insisted that since Diaconu had pulled out with a bona fide injury and was presently both very able and eager to challenge Dawson for the title, the Champion, Dawson, should make arrangements to fight his mandatory, Diaconu, as soon as possible, before fighting anyone else.

Incredibly, Dawson ignored the WBC's ruling. He refused to enter negotiations with Diaconu. This is the first time that Dawson ducked Diaconu. Not only had he tried to have Diaconu's mandatory status revoked, but Dawson also ignored a direct order from the WBC to fight Diaconu. Instead, Dawson was still chasing Tarver. Realising that Tarver remained uninterested in a fight against him at this stage, Dawson started chasing a fight against 39-year old legend Glen Johnson instead. The "Road Warrior", Dawson thought, would be great risk/reward. A win over Johnson would make him well-known and open many doors for the ambitious Dawson.

Having ignored the WBC's ruling and ducked Diaconu, Dawson entered formal negotiations with Johnson in late 2007. In doing so, he ducked his mandatory challenger Diaconu a second time! Surprisingly, the WBC didn't take Dawson's slight to heart, forgave him for his transgression, changed its mind in his favour and very generously permitted Dawson to fight Johnson first, as long as he agreed to fight Diaconu (if he remained Champion) by the 15th of March 2008. With this in mind, the WBC ordered Dawson to fight Johnson by the 15th of January 2008 at the latest. Dawson agreed.

However, for the second time, Dawson broke his promise to the WBC and ignored their ruling and their agreement. The 15th of January deadline passed, as did the 15th of March deadline. Not only had Dawson failed to fight Diaconu, but he also failed to start negotiations with the Romanian! In fact, he had not even managed to fight Johnson, with whom he had signed a deal, yet. In doing so, Chad Dawson ducked Adrian Diaconu for the third time. The WBC had seemingly had enough. Dawson had failed to honour his contractual obligations to the sanctioning body and to his mandatory challenger three times in a row, now, and having been forgiven twice only for him to go back on his word, enough was enough.

For having repeatedly ducked his mandatory challenger, he was to be stripped of his title. Chad Dawson's fight against Glen Johnson was to be a non-title fight. After all, Dawson wasn't the only boxer in the world that should be allowed to fight for a world title. Diaconu had done more than enough to earn his shot at the title and Dawson had no right to stop him from competing for the title by hugging the belt indefinitely. Too much was too much!

But it gets even worse! Having ducked Diaconu and having arranged to fight Johnson long after the deadline, threatened with being stripped of his title, Dawson, accompanied by his promoter, Gary Shaw, reportedly flew over to Mexico and camped out for two days in front of the WBC President's residence, begging to be allowed in to petition him. It took two days of waiting outside his house before the WBC President allowed Shaw and Dawson in, unwillingly.

Dawson then reportedly begged him to sanction his fight against Glen Johnson as a title fight, claiming poverty as a mitigating circumstance and arguing he would be unable to feed his family if he were stripped. Impressed by his sorry tale of woe, the WBC President forgave him for the third time, sided with him for a fourth time and finally agreed to sanction the fight against Johnson as a world title fight.

But, can you believe it, it gets worse still! Having ducked Diaconu three times and having stopped him from competing for a world title three times by hugging the belt, and having just been allowed to fight Johnson with the belt on the table, Dawson had the nerve to ask the WBC President to revoke Diaconu's mandatory status for good yet again, so that the winner of Dawson v. Johnson would never have to face Diaconu ever again! In other words, he demanded that Diaconu never get a title shot for the WBC title! Can you believe it?

The WBC President, flabbergasted at the request, reportedly couldn't bring himself to swallow yet another even greater injustice. He told Dawson that he would allow Diaconu to fight for the WBC Interim Championship and that the winner of Dawson v. Johnson would have to fight the WBC Interim Champion within 120 days, or get stripped of his share of the title. Incredibly, the President even asked Dawson to sign a contract agreeing to respect this ruling of the WBC! What humiliation! And this after Dawson had brazenly ignored the WBC's rulings as well as their agreement on three separate occasions! Dawson agreed, finally and signed the contract. This is how it came to pass that Dawson fought Johnson with the WBC belt on the line and how Diaconu got to fight Henry for the Interim Title.

Dawson beat Johnson, although the crowd and three quarters of the viewers on TV saw Johnson as the winner. On the 19th of April, in Romania, Diaconu beat tough, iron-chinned, big-hearted Chris "Hard Hittin'" Henry (currently rated #9 in the world by The Ring), on points in a very contested and very entertaining fight, to become WBC Interim Champion. Both Dawson and Diaconu having won, early this summer the WBC announced a 3rd of June purse bid to determine the particulars of the WBC Light-Heavyweight Title unification fight between holder Chad Dawson and long-term mandatory Adrian Diaconu. The WBC made it very clear that they expected Dawson to finally go through with this fight against his mandatory, Diaconu, to repay their trust, tolerance, patience and forgiveness of his past misdeeds.

Diaconu's promoter won the purse bid, offering Dawson around $1.1 million to fight Diaconu in Romania, by far the greatest purse Dawson has ever made in his career, including what he made against Johnson! Surprise, surprise, Dawson and his promoter declined the fight. Unbelievably, Dawson had ducked Diaconu yet again! Disrespectful to the last, Dawson relinquished his WBC belt, saying he had no intention of fighting Diaconu, preferring to fight Tarver instead. Diaconu was devastated. He strongly believed he had the beating of Dawson, but no opportunity to prove it. He had chased Dawson for so long, but in vain. This time, Dawson had ducked him for good. The WBC also lived to regret having stood by their Champion for so long, but it was too late – he had metaphorically thrown them the WBC Championship belt in their faces.

Not least, and most importantly, the fans were disappointed. The much anticipated fight between the two best young contenders in an aged division with a clash of styles that presented a mouth-watering prospect – the aggressive, explosive but fairly limited puncher against the smooth, fast, versatile but weak-chinned and tactically ill-disciplined boxer – both prime, live, unbeaten and hungry for success and acclaim, both with much to prove, would no longer take place. Dawson had ducked Diaconu for good.

In these circumstances, it beggars belief that in yesterday's press conference, besides giving Tarver no hope, Dawson also insisted he had not ducked anyone, ever! "I never ducked nobody man. I never ducked nobody man", he cried. His trusty promoter, Gary Shaw, unbelievably also insisted on praising Dawson for having ducked Diaconu: "To Dawson's credit, he took a belt off his waist to take the fight that everybody said wouldn't happen. And that's what will help boxing".

A few Dawson fans have tried to argue that Dawson could not have ducked Diaconu since he had agreed to fight a much better known, much more proven, and much more accomplished fighter, in Tarver. But Dawson could have fought Diaconu and then fought Tarver. Tarver, after all, had been matched by Showtime for a fight against their young protégée Dawson for years! They had even shared a card in their last fight to bring them even closer to what was going to be the inevitable passing of the torch from one generation to the next. Tarver would surely have gladly waited for Dawson to finally prove his chin, and thus that he was a bone fide top fighter, by fighting his mandatory Diaconu before meeting him in a unification fight with the WBC and the IBF belts on the line. After all, it's not as if there were any other big fights out there for Tarver, with Hopkins fighting Pavlik and Jones Junior fighting Calzaghe. Instead, Dawson decided to duck Diaconu for good, drop the belt altogether, and jump in with Tarver. Why? It doesn't make sense!

Was it because the WBC belt didn't matter to him at all? Was a championship belt completely worthless? But it wasn't worthless when he fought Adamek for it, was it? It wasn't worthless when he was hugging it and begging the WBC not to strip him of it for ducking Diaconu, stopping the Romanian from getting a title shot himself against someone else for it, was it? It wasn't worthless when he said he could not feed his family if he was stripped of the belt, was it? So the belt mattered to Dawson a lot, but stopped mattering altogether the very moment he had to fight for it against Diaconu? That wouldn't make sense unless the money that came with that Diaconu fight was much less than what Dawson had earned fighting for that belt until then, right? After all, as Dawson is fond of reminding us, it's not about the belts, it's about the money! (Just as long as you can have both when it suits you, right, Chad?)

If it's just about the money, why did he refuse by far his highest ever purse to fight Diaconu? So, if it wasn't because the belt didn't matter or because there was no money to be made against Diaconu, in defence of that belt, what was it?

It could have been the fact that he wanted to fight in the USA, not in Romania. After all, as many US fans are fond of reminding me, why should the Champion, Dawson, be forced to fight in Romania, of all places! He should only be forced to fight someone in the USA, they say. The answer is of course that a world title was on the line, not just a US title, and anyway, Champions travel if they have to; if Chris Henry was not afraid to fight Diaconu in Romania, why would Dawson be afraid? In any case, if Dawson was desperate to fight in the US, why did Shaw not increase his bid to make sure he won, so that the fight could take place anywhere he or Dawson liked? If Dawson is indeed the best Light-Heavyweight in the world and a huge draw in the USA and a future pound for pound star, as Shaw and Dawson insist, and if Diaconu couldn't possibly beat him anyway, then why not back your own fighter financially, because one thing is certain, Shaw could afford to do so!

Then, did Showtime insist that the fight could only take place in the USA? Why would they do that? After all, they show fights from Germany or Britain on their network all the time, so why not from Romania? It makes no sense! In that case, could it be, perish the thought, that Gary Shaw thought Dawson wasn't such a great prospect as he was hyping him to be after all? Tarver would certainly agree! "They have him hyped up like a lion! The bottom line is they can build him up all that he want to be, but they can't fight for him!", Tarver said today, of Dawson. So, was Shaw afraid Dawson's dodgy whiskers couldn't stand up to the scrutiny of a flush Diaconu's punch? Could it be that he was afraid Diaconu would upset his hype-job's apple cart in Romania live on Showtime, leaving his little money-earner with a lot less shine, as a result of which a profitable Tarver fight would almost certainly fall through? Couldn't be that, could it? Surely!

In so, it must be because that badly faded, old, slow, man, as Dawson describes Tarver might not be around for much longer, and he had to be plucked whilst he was still on the branch! It must be that Shaw thought Dawson could never make anywhere close to as much money fighting Tarver after Diaconu, even in a unification fight! But no, that cannot be right, because Tarver is a much more dangerous foe than Diaconu could ever be, surely, as Dawson fans are fond of reminding us...Didn't he just beat a Woods at his best, a Woods who gave the performance of his life, whereas Diaconu barely scraped past a nobody called Henry? Well, actually, he didn't! Woods gave a horrible performance, possibly his worst ever. Tarver didn't impress that night. And he was very faded.

If Dawson thought he'd definitely beat Diaconu, he must have been afraid Tarver would have been beaten by some guy he would have fought in a stay busy fight, waiting for Dawson to deal with Diaconu, right? After all, in many people's eyes, Muriqi, a young contender, had already beaten Tarver or at least came very close to doing so, last summer! But in that case, if Tarver means so little these days, why would Dawson drop the challenge of a bona fide challenger, un unbeaten contender, a prime, live puncher, if there are still questions hanging over his chin, to fight nothing but a grudge-fight against a man that he gives no chance to anyway? To build up his name on the back of his, of course, must be the answer. Because boxing is a business, right? And because American fans are impressed by big American names on an up-and-coming fighter's resume, whatever the condition of that big American name at the time of the fight.

So, then, the truth is that Tarver isn't really a bigger challenge than Diaconu after all; quite the opposite, in fact, but, Tarver is worth more money now than he will ever be, and who knows, he might lose to the next young buck anyway, and not be worth half as much, not even as a name on your resume! Is this the reason why Dawson was so desperate to duck Diaconu and lose his biggest ever pay-day to rush into a Tarver fight - to catch Tarver before he would be beaten by some unknown?

If so, does that mean that after plucking the Tarver apple that had almost fallen off the branch, Dawson will ask to fight Diaconu, if Diaconu beats Branco and then Johnson, as mandated by the WBC? Will Dawson want to prove that he had not ducked Diaconu for good after all, but merely hurried to pick an almost rotten apple, just in time, to boost his resume? Will we get to see Dawson v. Diaconu after all? Alas, my fellow boxing fans, it does not look like it!

Dawson is not just afraid Tarver might be plucked by some young prospect coming up or retired for good by a fellow old legend before he has a chance to do it. He is also weary of the risk/reward associated with fighting Diaconu. One good punch from relatively unknown Diaconu and Dawson's chin would crack along with the whole hyped-up vision that is Dawson - the next pound-for-pound star, which the hacks are trying to peddle us remorselessly. Proof that Dawson has never wanted to fight Diaconu nor that he intends to do so in future is that he has never mentioned his name once as a possible future opponent, in any interviews, either when he was preparing to fight Johnson, or when he was preparing to fight Tarver. He mentioned plenty of other, more sonorous names, however, all old and fading fast, of course! To Dawson, the name Diaconu does not stand for his personal disgrace or even for unfinished business. Instead, Dawson has always pretended Diaconu didn't exist, which has been easy, because he's not American. Out of sight, out of mind! And haven't the American hacks obliged just lovingly, by never mentioning the dreaded name Diaconu either! Dawson will never fight Diaconu, unless it's the last fight in the world out there for him. Shaw will not allow it! He wouldn't want the young star he's been building up to be exposed as chinless, now, would he? Dawson's chin should not be allowed to be ever tested by a world class puncher, so help us God, the mantra goes!

So, to return one last time to the leg-up Shaw has chosen for his chinny charge. Gary Shaw would like us all to praise Chad Dawson for having ducked Diaconu to take it. He even has the nerve to call it the kind of fight that helps save boxing! Well, Mr. Gary Shaw, you can fool some people all of the time, but not most people, this time! You can hype your Chad "Bad" Dawson all you want, but for many of us he will always represent all that is wrong with boxing, and for most fans, this fight, just as it is for Dawson himself, - a meaningless fight, and the kind that rots boxing from within.

Article posted on 02.10.2008



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