You are only as good as your last fight. The titles, Pound 4 Pound accolades and even your resume will be slandered after one bad performance. Look no further than Chad Dawson, who despite being the linear champion at light-heavyweight, has been all but forgotten after being taken to the woodshed by super-middleweight kingpin Andre Ward last September.
Sure, there was a valid excuse for the performance. Dawson had to boil down to a weight limit he hadn’t been at in years, and the warnings signs were evident when rumors came out of his training camp that he was knocked out in sparring and noticeably weaker. But this is the cold world of boxing, where the results in the ring trump any of the circumstances behind it, and Chad Dawson finds not only his 175 WBC title at stake, but his marketability as an elite fighter on the line when he faces limited by dangerous slugger Adonis Stevenson in Montreal Saturday night (June 8) on HBO. A few years ago following Dawon’s disappointing first career loss to Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins told this writer that Dawson’s career was a “failed stock” that HBO brought into. Since then, Dawson has gone on to hand Hopkins one of the few uncontroversial losses of his career. This weekend, we find out if Dawson can truly resurrect his name after the biggest setback of his career.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’ve become infamous for running through trainers. In fact, you’ve changed trainers 10 times in 11 years. With that said, a few have been trainers you’ve gone back to more than once like Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. What renewed your faith in him?
Dawson: If you really think about it, Eddie is the one who got me to my highest [career] point. When I was up, Eddie was there. And even when I lost to Pascal, Eddie still called and was there for me. He’s a great man and great trainer and the one I’m the most comfortable with.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Hindsight is 20/20, but what was your mindset in taking that Andre Ward fight?
Dawson: I was a tremendous mistake on my part. I took the fight – no one else is to blame on my team. I’m the boss and they followed my lead. The weight took a toll on me. I can’t blame anyone but myself.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Quiet as it’s kept, you’re always taking tough fights. Why another dangerous fight after coming off a KO loss?
Dawson: I’ve got to give the fans something. I can to show the world that I’m still one of the best Pound 4 Pound fighters in the world. I took the fight because he’s a big puncher. I checked him out and watched his tapes. The most that people say about him is he’s a big puncher.
I’ve been in the ring with big punchers, but I’ve survived. That being said, he’s never faced anyone liked me. I know I can deal with a fighter like him. We’ll see if he can handle me.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What else can be done at 175 if you get by Stevenson? You’ve already beat Hopkins…
Dawson: I’m interested in a Ward rematch, but he’ll have to come to me this time. I’m not interested in catchweights. I did what was asked of me last time. But I doubt he’s interested in doing the same thing at 175. That will be the reason the fight won’t happen.
Far as a Bernard Hopkins [trilogy], Bernard doesn’t want anymore parts of me. I think the people can see that. That won’t happen again. But I do want any potential big fights. Carl Froch is one of those guys who might move up to light-heavyweight. Whatever would interest the fans is what I want.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: I know he’s tied up for the rest of the year, but have you given up on getting revenge on Jean Pascal?
I’m always definitely interested in that fight. I know he’s wrapped up with Bute. After I dust Stevenson off, I’m sure he won’t want any parts of me either. On the 8th, they’ll see something from Chad Dawson they’ve never seen before. We’ll try to make the Pascal fight for early 2014, but he has to get by Bute and that’s a tough fight for him.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Why should we believe you about a “new Chad Dawson?” We’ve heard this before.
Simple, I have no doubts in my mind. It’s different when you go into a fight with doubts. Did I do enough? Did I not do enough? I know I did enough in training this time. When I fought Antonio Tarver the first time, I let my hands go. I was in such great shape that everything flowed and came that night. I’m in the same situation with this camp. I worked very hard. My weight is perfect and I’m leaving the gym at 110%.
The great camp showed me how much of a mistake I made going down to 168 pounds for the Andre Ward fight. Believe it or not, it’s been a big confidence booster to be back. I’m looking forward to showing everyone I’m still one of the best.
It’s funny because I always joked about moving up to heavyweight one day. Honestly, I’m 30 years old and this is the division where I’ll probably end my career. I can’t see myself fighting at cruiserweight. I have make light-heavyweight easy and it’s my natural weight.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: If you’re staying at 175, the division looks to be going international with UK guys like Nathan Cleverly, George Groves and James DeGeale trying to build their names. Could you be enticed to take a risk and go overseas?
I definitely think they have to come over to the States and make a name for themselves. I’m through with going to people’s backyards. My years of doing that are over. If they want a title shot, they have to come to me.
Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson airs live on HBO “Boxing After Dark” on June 8 at 10 p.m. ET. On the undercard, Yuriorkis Gamboa returns to the ring to face Darleys Perez.