By Sean Crose
Chad Dawson needed a big win on Saturday. Since the start of his not-so-hyped comeback this year, he had fought less than one round. He showed up to that fight in less than spectacular shape, too. Now he was fighting at home in Connecticut, against an opponent people thought he could easily beat in Tommy Karpency. The question was, would the world see the Bad Chad of old – or would it continue to witness the decline of the man who once bested the great Bernard Hopkins?
One thing was certain, Dawson looked in terrific condition. He also looked sharp in the eyes – always important for a fighter looking for a second chance. After being warmly received by the crowd at the Foxwoods casino, the opening bell rang and Dawson began to ply his trade.
Truth be told, the first two rounds were rather close. Karpency was clearly not interested in playing the role of Rod Salka. He had come to win and was keeping his punches crisp and his movement fluid. Dawson hit Karpency hard at the beginning of the third, but Karpency returned fire and got Dawson on his bicycle.
Dawson had claimed before the fight that he wanted to get some work in, that he wanted to put in some rounds against his opponent. At the start of the fourth, however, it became clear that Dawson had to start focusing on winning. Yet the fourth looked a lot like the previous rounds. It seemed as if the former light heavyweight champion couldn’t find his range against his unheralded foe. The outcome was no longer looking like a foregone conclusion.
What’s more, the bout remained close through the middle rounds. The sixth round, for instance, was difficult to call. Dawson may have taken the seventh, but Karpency came back and took the eighth, even hurting Dawson toward round’s end. While Dawson had indeed hurt his left shoulder during the bout, it didn’t help that he hardly used his left – if he used at all – during the later portion of the fight.
Fortunately for Dawson, his vast ring experience carried him to victory in the ninth. Yet the ring doctor expressed concern for Dawson’s hand before the final three minutes began. Clinical and sometimes simply inactive, Dawson completed the bout on his feet and possibly on top of the cards. The fact that he even literally ran from his opponent during the final seconds may have proven that Dawson was a smart fighter – but it certainly didn’t make him look good.
In the end it was Karpency’s night. Chad Dawson, who was once the toast of boxing, had now been defeated in his own back yard. The question now is where does Dawson go? True his shoulder was hurt, but he certainly lacked energy in the ring.
“I landed more jabs than he landed punches all night,” Dawson argued. That may have been true, but being void of any sense of urgency is never a smart strategy – especially in this era of boxing, where action is king.
As for Karpency, a registered nurse who took the bout on three week’s notice, he came across as a polite and gracious winner. How he stacks up in the loaded light heavyweight division, however, is another matter. Can the man be seen beating Adonis Stevenson? Sergey Kovalev? Bernard Hopkins? Most would say “no.” Most would have said the same thing about Karpency’s chances against Dawson on Saturday afternoon, however. One really never knows in boxing.
At the very least, the folks at Showtime, who have been taking some hits lately, can take comfort in the fact that a supposed “easy” fight involving an Al Haymon fighter (Dawson) ended surprisingly. It may not have been a great matchup on paper; indeed it wasn’t that great a fight to watch, either. It ended in an upset, however, and that can be interpreted as good news for Showtime.