Dawson must conquer past to get on with future
Story by Mariano A. Agmi
Photo by Chris Cozzone
One of the world’s best pound for pound talents returns home tonight when “Bad” Chad Dawson (28-0, 17 KOs) takes on the “Road Warrior,” Glen Johnson (49-12, 33 KOs), at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
The bout, a rematch of a back-and-forth war that Dawson won by controversial unanimous decision in April 2008, is a highly anticipated match-up featuring two of the best light heavyweights in the world.
“I’m very excited, a lot of people have been waiting a long time for a fight like this to come to Connecticut,” states the 27-year-old Dawson. “It’s the biggest fight in Connecticut in the last 20 years, and I’m very excited to be headlining the show.”
Since 2006, the unbeaten southpaw has himself been on the road, graduating from the equivalent of boxing graduate school as he challenged and defeated the best light heavyweights in the world while winning the IBF and WBC versions of the title along the way. The list includes decisions against Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek, Antonio Tarver (twice), and Glen Johnson.
Despite the impressive resume, Dawson was so determined to take on Johnson again that he agreed to be stripped of his IBF title in order to show the old professor what he learned the first time around rather than face his alphabet mandatory challenger. With a few key adjustments, Dawson believes he will have a clear-cut victory this time around.
“I’m going into this fight to erase the memory of the first fight. I took this fight to see how much I’ve grown and learned from the last fight,” states the quietly confident former champion. “The first fight I boxed great in the first half and then got into a slugfest in the second half.”
Indeed, the first encounter was dictated by the fighter who best controlled the real estate. While Dawson used his advantages in speed and ring generalship to win the rounds fought at a distance, Johnson used his strength and power to hurt Dawson when fighting on the inside.
“I watched Glen Johnson fight for years and I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” admits Dawson. “I didn’t go into that fight thinking that I’d come out unblemished. I knew it was gonna be a war, and I’m looking for the same thing in this fight.”
However, Dawson believes that if he sticks to boxing, he will pass the second test with flying colors: “I want to do a lot of things differently – I’m looking to use my skills, my legs and my God-given talent. I need to use all of the tools that the Lord gave me to come away with a victory.”
Fans should credit Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw, for dropping the IBF belt to take on the 40-year-old “Road Warrior” a second time. The young former champion believes that by eliminating the division of the best light heavyweights of the recent past, he will become the man to beat in higher profile fights in the future: “I’ve had two fights with Antonio Tarver and now two fights with Glen Johnson. I feel like the last two years of my career have been based on Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver and I feel that I’m ready to move on from this phase in my career to bigger and better things.”
Dawson believes that once he clearly defeats Johnson, will be ready to face the best fighters of the new generation, including IBF champion Tavoris Cloud, WBC champion Jean Pascal, and the last remaining aging legend in the division, Bernard Hopkins. However, Dawson first must conquer a determined and rugged former champion who refuses to go away without a war. The former champion agrees: “The first fight was a great fight and I think the second one will be too. I hope the Connecticut fans come and support the show, because that’s exactly what we’re going to put on.”
BOXER TO COMMEMORATE SLAIN UCONN FOOTBALL PLAYER
Not only should fans credit Dawson for his willingness to face tough opposition every time out, but they should also be proud of Dawson for his stand against violence in memory of Jasper Howard, a University of Connecticut football player who was fatally stabbed at a party last month.
“It was my and my manager’s idea to honor Jasper. It was a horrible tragedy for the family, the football team, and the UCONN community,” stated the fighter. “We want to pay our respects to him, to the UCONN community and to all of Connecticut. It was a tragedy for something like that to happen to such a promising athlete. My heart goes out to him, his family, and the team.”
Dawson vs. Johnson 2 will be shown live on HBO at 9:30pm EST on Saturday, November 7th, along with the return of Alfredo “Perro” Angulo vs. Harry Joe Yorgey. The card is being promoted by Gary Shaw Productions.