Chad Dawson knew the 12 rounds against Bernard Hopkins were going to be tough and dirty. That’s how Hopkins fights. That’s how Hopkins has remained a Light Heavyweight champion at the age of 47. Dawson did look the bloodier of the two due to a nasty cut above his eye, but there was no doubt about the winner, the better boxer and the new WBC Light Heavyweight champion.
This one wasn’t pretty. Just like their first fight, on October 2011, no one expected flashy displays of combinations. Six months ago it ended in the second round, with Hopkins dislocating his shoulder, later turning out to be a no contest. Despite both fighters declaring they will not give the other one a rematch, it seemed like the only logical thing to do.
Hopkins, in a straight fight, has nothing to throw at the younger (29), bigger and faster Dawson. So he used his head, like always, to get inside and try to create some damage. His two ‘accidental’ headbutts’ opened cuts above Dawson’s eyes, but he never managed to land anything significant. Both of them didn’t. Dawson connected with 151 punches (35%) while Hopkins managed only 106 (26%) in a fight that saw little flurries and a lot of grabbing, shoving and one time kind of punches.
The scorecards, two of them, couldn’t have been clearer about who was the dominant fighter – Dawson got two 117-111 scorecards, while one official called it 114-114 in another example of the ridiculousness of the reviewing in the sport. Hopkins wasn’t knocked out or anything, but he was never really close to hurt Dawson and was the one on the receiving end for most of the 12 rounds.
For Hopkins, a former Middleweight champion, who retained his MW belts for 22 consecutive defenses between 1993-2005, this might have been his final fight. He took some vow of silence before the fight, not really taking part in the promotional festival. Maybe it was some mind-trick he unsuccessfully tried to pull off. Whatever it was, it didn’t work. After 62 fights (52-6-2-2) and nearly 24 years in the professional rings, it might be over for the very outspoken (usually) boxer.
Hopkins initially reacted with anger after hearing the scores, but later on admitted that Dawson deserved to be where he’s at, at the top of the division. Dawson had nothing but compliments himself for Hopkins after the fight.
Bernard fought his heart out, but I’m the younger guy, so I had to be the aggressor. I kept my composure even with all the head-butts. Hopkins is a master at old-school tactics. It’s almost impossible to knock him out, but when I turned on the pressure, he knew he was going to beat him.
Dawson looked rather pleased with himself during the post-fight interviews, like finally getting recognition for a marquee victory. Dawson, 29, has a 31-1 record with two no contests. His only defeat came against Jean Pascal, fighting in Montreal. His wins over Adamek and Antonio Tarver might seem ‘smaller’ but Hopkins, with all that his name carries in the sports, is a few steps from washed up. He’s very hard to beat, but he doesn’t bring much that can beat you.
Like many other fighters at the top of their division, Dawson suffers from marketability issues. His style, which doesn’t appeal to the PPV audiences and to the networks in general. Maybe this win, a signature win for Dawson, can free up something in him and raise him up to another level. To find himself a place where he can be considered a big draw, like the Montreal fighters or Andre Ward in Oakland.
Speaking of Ward, who is looking for his next opponent for quite some time, that’s the man Dawson wants to see next. Dawson wants a big fight, and is willing to do down to 168 to make that money and statement. Ward however seems like the more picky type. He has a June fight ahead of him, although his opponent has yet to be announced. From what we’ve heard from him recently, Ward is looking for the most lucrative fight possible. Dawson doesn’t sound like the one he wants.