Twenty-four hours after learning he’d been inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, “Bad” Chad Dawson turned back the clock with another Hall-worthy performance Friday at the Connecticut Convention Center in downtown Hartford.
The 37-year-old Dawson (36-5) outworked Russian veteran Denis Grachev (19-9-1) live on UFC FIGHT PASS® by scores of 80-72, 79-73, 80-72 to capture the WBC USNBC light heavyweight title in the main event of CES Boxing’s long-awaited return to Hartford.
After shaking off the rust in his comeback fight in June, the former two-time world champion Dawson looked much sharper Friday against the always-dangerous Grachev, using his exceptional footwork and defense, coupled with a stiff jab, to keep the hard-charging Russian at bay. Grachev promised to dictate the pace, suggesting Dawson doesn’t handle pressure well, but the New Haven, CT, veteran masterfully controlled the fight from the opening bell, save for a brief scare in the sixth when Grachev landed a rare clean shot and backed the champ against the ropes.
Afterward, Dawson issued a challenge to the world’s top-rated 175-pounders, citing, “I feel like I’m 25 again.” On Thursday, the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame announced Dawson as one six honorees in its 2019 class, which also includes Arturo Gatti and Delvin Rodriguez.
Unbeaten New London, CT, heavyweight Cassius Chaney (17-0, 11 KOs) made quick work of Colombian veteran Santander Silgado (22-8), scoring a one-punch knockout 1 minute, 3 seconds into the opening round of the co-main event with a thundering overhand right. Also on the UFC FIGHT PASS® main card, New Haven’s Jimmy Williams (16-3-2) and Tilton, NH, super welterweight Jose Medina (18-17-2) battled to a six-round draw with scores of 58-56, 56-58, 57-57.
Hartford lightweight Sharad Collier (4-0-1, 3 KOs) rallied in the opening bout of the telecast to earn a third-round knockout win over hard-hitting Glenn Mitchell (3-4) of Steubenville, OH. Collier hit the canvas in the opening round courtesy of a stiff, left jab by Mitchell, but dusted himself off and landed a series of looping, overhand shots that floored Mitchell right before the bell. As Collier became more patient in the later rounds, he continued to rock the taller, lankier Mitchell with hard, overhand rights, eventually earning the stoppage at the 2:15 mark.
The preliminary card featured three evenly-matched bouts, starting with Springfield, MA, super welterweight Jalen Renaud (2-0) scoring a first-round knockdown en route to a unanimous decision win over Boston’s Maceo Crowder (2-3), who retured to the ring for the first time in six years. Crowder had his moments after the knockdown and landed some effective blows, but Renaud earned the decision, 40-35, across the board.
In what may have been the most entertaining bout on the card, New Britain, CT, super bantamweight Nathan Martinez (6-0) remained unbeaten with a hard-earned win over Texan Steve Garagarza (1-2-1), 40-36, 39-37, 39-37. The bout began at a frenetic pace with the two fighters exchanging shots within inches of one another for the first two rounds. The pace slowed a bit as fatigue set in, but the fight remained entertaining as Garagarza continued to press the action. Martinez’s defense was the story as the talented right-hander kept his guard up and landed effective counterpunches to pile up the point.
Decorated amateur and former 2017 New York Golden Gloves champion Jahvel Joseph (1-0) of the Bronx, NY, earned the win in his professional debut, overcoming a solid effort by Sao Paolo, Brazil vet Leandro Silva (1-3) by scored of 40-36, 39-37, 39-37, Silva, also a nine-time UFC vet in mixed martial arts, put constant pressure on Joseph, who eventually settled down and utilized his height advantage with an effective jab to set up his offensive attack.