Bernard Hopkins will ultimately defeat Chad Dawson

by Geoffrey Ciani - Chad Dawson has all the tools to beat Bernard Hopkins. He’s younger, he’s taller, he’s faster, he’s stronger, he’s more athletic, he’s fresher and he has a longer reach. Unfortunately for Dawson, it is the two areas where he is at a major disadvantage that will most likely determine the outcome of the fight, and those are Bernard Hopkins’ exceptional ring IQ and unwavering mental determination. Those two qualities, which have enabled Hopkins to compete and succeed on the highest level at age 46, will certainly provide Dawson with some difficulties.

For whatever reason, Chad Dawson always seemed to lack that special something that enables great fighters to become elite boxers, where the total package becomes even greater than the sum of its parts. Despite all of his natural talent and physical abilities, Dawson has been known to frequently suffer mental lapses in the ring where he either loses focus or loses interest. At times he also even comes across as one who does not appear especially determined or overly motivated. He seemingly lacks killer instinct and often cruises through rounds with little or no sense of urgency. He also typically fights in spurts and is not the type of boxer who fights hard for every second of every round like a Joe Calzaghe. Against a seasoned and tricky veteran like Hopkins, all of these things combined represent a recipe for disaster.

Making matters worse for Chad, additional questions remain about his mindset going into the biggest fight of his life. Dawson initially never reported to camp as scheduled with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who was also working with Andy Lee in preparation for a long awaited rematch against Brian Vera. Dawson ultimately opted to drop Steward, stating he wanted to stay close to home and family following the birth of his newborn child. Apparently, before Chad ultimately reteamed with former trainer “Iceman” John Scully, he had essentially been preparing alone at the start of his camp. Scully is a great trainer in his own right and he is familiar with Dawson, but Chad's indecisive approach to training and preparations for a fight of this magnitude is most baffling. Surely this is the sort of thing that should have probably been worked out weeks, if not months, before training began.

If nothing else, it is clear that Chad Dawson did not give himself the best chance to properly prepare for what could wind up becoming a career defining fight while going up against one of the best old school corners in boxing today.

On the other side you have the “Ageless Warrior”, Bernard Hopkins who is coming off an historic victory against Jean Pascal, enabling him to become the oldest fighter to win a major world championship in boxing history. In doing so, Hopkins achieved a new level of stardom that escaped him throughout most of his long and illustrious career. Bernard has always liked a challenge, and he has always strived to prove his critics wrong. Being that he is now in the unfamiliar position of being favored in a big fight, Bernard knows he is going to have to do something very special to even come close to equaling his historic win back in May. All of these factors help to suggest that Bernard will come in this fight as motivated and determined as ever.

Style-wise, Dawson represents the type of opponent whom Hopkins can excel against. For starters, Dawson is a southpaw and Hopkins has a sensational track record against left-handed fighters. If Dawson suffers from mental lapses and loss of focus as he often does, there is a good chance Hopkins will pounce and take advantage of the situation. If “Bad” Chad happens to hurt Hopkins at some point during the encounter, Bernard’s survival skills and Dawson’s lack of killer instincts should ensure that Bernard can buy enough time to clear his head and regain his composure. The fact that Dawson fights in spurts should enable Bernard to judiciously pick his shots while reserving energy so that he can step up the pace and dictate the action on his terms when necessary. These things all help give Hopkins an edge.

Many observers picking Dawson to win note the similarities between Chad and Jermain Taylor, who holds two extremely close and somewhat debatable decision wins against Hopkins. It should be noted, however, that those two fights with Taylor were Bernard’s last two at 160 due to trouble making weight and remaining effective. Additionally, while there are some similarities between Dawson and Taylor with regards to physical attributes, skills, and athleticism, there are also differences—namely, the fact that Taylor often fought with more intensity and a greater sense of urgency. Taylor had a habit of fading late after starting fast whereas Chad is known to coast through a fight in the same gear. While this might seem like a minor detail on the surface, this is something of major importance because Chad’s normal pace is what should enable Bernard to be more effective earlier in his fight with Dawson than he was in the Taylor fights. Beyond that, it is also worth noting that when Bernard fought Taylor, he was not viewed with the same type of universal admiration that is now bestowed upon him like George Foreman before him.

At the end of the day Chad’s skills, physical advantages, and athleticism will no doubt give Bernard some difficulty. After all Dawson is still an elite talent with a lot to prove, so he will come out and give it his all for this one, but look for Chad to be overcome with a sense of self-doubt early on in the fight, which might even be visible in his expressions and body language. Once Hopkins detects this, watch for him to take it to Chad at opportune moments which will only amplify the feeling of self-doubt Chad will experience as the rounds progress, before Hopkins wins the battle of wills and ultimately breaks Dawson down mentally. Expect Hopkins to win a competitive but decisive points victory, but don’t be too surprised if “The Executioner” stops Chad late despite having not scored a stoppage victory in several years.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Bernard Hopkins W12 Chad Dawson


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Article posted on 14.10.2011

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