By Michael Montero - The stage was set for the main event here at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The crowd had just been dazzled by the thrilling Demarco-Linares undercard bout, easily a candidate for fight of the year. Dawson made his way to the ring first; he looked very determined and focused. Then Hopkins walked in, donning his trademark black mask and making the “execution” gesture to the crowd. The place was packed and the energy in the building was electric. If only the fight had been half as fruitful…
Article posted on 17.10.2011
Things fight started off with Dawson pawing the jab as Hopkins looked to counter. The first round was mostly a feeling out process, but “Bad” Chad seemed to control the pace and took it on my card. It was more of the same at the beginning of the second round as Dawson controlled the distance with his jab. Hopkins attempted to pull some of his old school rough tactics, but his younger opponent wouldn’t let him. It was clear that Dawson was not going to be bullied like Canada’s Jean Pascal had been earlier this year. It was also clear to see that Hopkins was bothered by Dawson’s size, athleticism and skills from the opening bell.
Toward the end of the second round, Hopkins lunged in on Dawson and missed with a punch. Chad ducked under it and Bernard landed on top of him. At that point, Dawson shrugged his opponent off him – Hopkins slammed into the canvas and didn’t’ get up.. He grimaced and writhed in pain on the canvas for several minutes, motioning to his shoulder. After several moments, he told the ref that he couldn’t go on, citing a shoulder injury. The crowd booed wildly as the ref stopped the fight, chanting “bull sh*t” over and over as they watched the replay on the big screen. Half of the arena seemed to feel Dawson committed a foul and should have been disqualified, half felt that Hopkins was faking the injury and looking for a way out. HBO’s Max Kellerman wondered if the fight should have been called a “no contest” since it was so early on. It officially went into the books as a Technical Knock Out win for the New Haven, Connecticut native.
In the post fight ring interview, Hopkins claimed he would have continued to fight on with one arm had the ref warned him he was going to call it a TKO if he decided not to keep going. Dawson on the other hand was visibly upset, as he felt his opponent simply quit. Kellerman asked the ref what happened and he stood by his decision to call it a TKO for Dawson. Portions of the crowd booed no matter who spoke, as opinions were split for the rest of the night. It’s hard not to wonder if all the old school tricks Bernard has pulled over the years (faking low blows against Calzaghe, using the thumb in the eye against Pascal, etc) may have cost him tonight. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a fighter is faking it, looking for help from the ref or not - especially if he’s been known to do so in the past. Over the first two rounds, Hopkins was trying to apply some of his rough stuff, it was business as usual. The difference tonight is that his opponent wasn’t going to take it, and he played along.
Hopkins didn’t show up for the post fight press conference, as promoter Richard Schaeffer announced Bhop was in the hospital getting his shoulder looked at. But Jean Pascal crashed the party and exchanged some heated words with Chad Dawson, who said he would be fighting the Canadian next. “You lost to a forth-six year old man twice”, he said, “you were out on your feet in the first fight with me (when the ref stopped it due to a cut) and you know it, next time I’m gonna finish you off.” Then things cooled off and Dawson turned his focus to Hopkins. “I want to thank Bernard Hopkins for making it an easy night for me. This goes to show you why for the past three years he’s been ducking me.” Dawson’s trainer, John Scully, had a few words to add as well. “For what it’s worth, we were up 2-0 in the fight”, he said, “Chad Dawson walked him down. All of the action is this fight is due to Chad.” Winky Wright, who helped Dawson prepare for Hopkins in camp, stood up and added his two cents. “Bernard is one of the dirtiest fighters in boxing. Point blank, he quit. He did not want to fight Chad Dawson.”
I asked “Bad” Chad about a possibly match in the coming years against the winner of the Super Six-Lucian Bute tourney at super middleweight. He said he’d be open to fighting any of them, but not at a catch weight. “I wouldn’t be interested in a catch weight”, he said, “but I definitely want Pascal next”. Dawson also said he’d take on fellow 175 pound titlist Tavoris Cloud. The message of the night was clear; Dawson is willing to take on all comers. He’s the legitimate light heavyweight champion and he’s ready to make his mark on the boxing world.
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