Will Chad Dawson Do The Right Thing Now?

By Paul McCreath - When Chad Dawson won the WBC lightheavyweight title from Thomasz Adamek in February of 2007 there were great expectations especially among American fans that a new superstar was on the rise. When Adamek went on from there to win a title at cruiserweight Chad's stock went even higher. Unfortunately we have not seen much since his title winning effort to suggest that Dawson is anything more than a fairly average belt holder. While he has proven to be capable enough in the ring he has failed to capture the adoration of the general public the way a true star would..

Shortly after attaining his title belt Chad made two rather modest title defenses against soft opposition. First came Jesus Ruiz who had done little before and hasn't fought since. Next up was Epifanio Mendoza who would go on to lose his next two fights, one against Jeff Lacy and the other against 6 fight newcomer Beibut Shumenov. Dawson stopped both these two but you are excused if you have forgotten about both of them. These wins hardly helped Dawson's image.

During this time Adrian Diaconu, the Romanian fighting out of Montreal had established himself as the mandatory challenger for Dawson by stopping Rico Hoye in three rounds and a fight was arranged with Dawson. An injury forced Adrian to pull out and Dawson fought the voluntary against Mendoza instead. We can hardly fault Chad for wanting to stay busy but he could have selected a tougher foe.

Once Diaconu was ready to go again the bout with Dawson went to purse offers when no agreement could be reached. In the meantime Dawson defended again against Glen Johnson and won a close disputed decision. The same month, April 2008 that Dawson was meeting Johnson, Diaconu won the interim title by decision over Chris Henry in a bout held in Romania. The winning bid on the purse offer for Dawson and Diaconu at $1,813,000 was made by Gankor who planned to stage the fight in Romania. At this point Dawson suddenly lost interest in his belt. Now many Diaconu fans believe that Chad was afraid to fight Adrian. I am more inclined to believe that Dawson was more nervous about fighting a Romanian fighter in his own country. Whatever the reason Dawson and his team made the business decision to forget his WBC belt and challenge Antonio Tarver for his IBF trinket.

Tarver had gained this belt from Clinton Woods also in April of that year. While the decision to meet Tarver may have made sense from a business point of view it cost Dawson quite a few fans who felt he was ducking Diaconu.

Chad of course did win the IBF title from Tarver in a dull fight then went on to defend against him again because of the contractual obligations. This was a fight hardly anybody wanted and neither of the Tarver fights did much to raise Dawson into the superstar class. The second bout drew a small crowd. This was not surprising because by this time Tarver's light was no longer shining brightly and Dawson had not established himself as a big draw. Remember that American promoters lost the purse bid to Romania for the proposed Diaconu fight. Chad was good but not a big gate attraction anywhere in America. His style is not as exciting as some of the more aggressive sluggers who more often score KOs.

Last August another name popped up on the scene. Tavoris Cloud an unbeaten young puncher won an IBF eliminator to jump to the front of the line waiting for a Dawson match by stopping former champ Julio Gonzalez in 10 rounds. Unfortunately there has never been a word from Dawson about fighting Cloud.

Now Chad has to make another business decision. He no doubt would like a big mega fight but is there one waiting for him? The bout most mentioned these days is one with the old warrior himself Bernard Hopkins. Most of us would like to see this fight but would the general public be interested enough to make this match financially attractive to Bernard? I doubt it. Bernard is a great fighter but he is not any more a great gate attraction than is Chad. I don't think we will see this fight. The risk for Bernard would be too great for the financial reward available and I doubt if Bernard is too worried about his legacy at this point. It is already well established. Chad could, I suppose meet one of the many supermiddleweights like Froch or Kessler or Bute but could he make 168 or would any of them move up to 175?It is problematic to say the least.

Chad may never capture the following of the masses the way superstars like Manny Pacquiao or in earlier days Oscar de la Hoya could do so he is not in the position to toss away another alphabet belt by ignoring still another mandatory. What he can do is gain the respect of all boxing fans as Bernard Hopkins did before him by taking care of business and meeting all deserving contenders, in this case at 175 pounds. In other words he has to act like a true champion now. As I see it he has to meet Tavoris Cloud next to get that out of the way. After that should be the much called for rematch with Glen Johnson and then finally a unification bout with Diaconu if he is still a belt holder at that time. These are the bouts that a true champion would take. Will Chad prove his worth by doing the right thing now or will he look for an easier way again? We are watching Chad.

The ball is in your court now. No excuses! It is time to prove if you are something special !

Article posted on 14.05.2009

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