By Kirk Jackson
Tonight is the night. Saturday October 15th, live from the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California, living legend Bernard Hopkins defends his light heavyweight crown against the once proclaimed air to the throne Chad Dawson.
Photo: Tom Hogan/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy
This match up tagged as a battle for light heavyweight supremacy, features the two best fighters in the division.
Hopkins enters this fight after a pair of sensational performances against a multiple division champion Jean Pascal.
The first bout between Hopkins and Pascal ended with a controversial draw and the second bout ending with a decision victory for Hopkins, making him at age 46 the oldest man to hold a legitimate championship.
What makes this intriguing is Pascal was the first fighter to defeat Dawson.
For those keeping track as we have it, Hopkins beat Pascal, who beat Dawson, but even with that formula, it is not a given Hopkins will beat Dawson. But being an astute student of the game like Hopkins is, there is certainly some things he can pick up on and use against Dawson tonight.
Dawson is an extremely gifted fighter. Some may argue he is the most talented fighter north of the middleweight division.
Dawson possesses dazzling hand speed, has the ability to throw fluid combinations and has some pop behind his punches.
What has plagued him throughout his career is his inability to maintain focus through the course of an entire fight. There has been a few instances where he has not been very assertive offensively and gives off the impression of a lackadaisical effort overall.
Despite those flaws, Dawson has amassed an impressive record of 30-1 (17 ko’s) and is a multiple division champion. Fans and critics are frustrated because they see the talent, there are just waiting for Dawson to put everything together and be a consistent fighter.
It would be unfair to compare the entire career’s of each fighter when making a case for who is better or who will win tonight’s fight. But a fair assessment can be made by comparing the last few years or even the last five bouts for each fighter.
In that case, Hopkins gets the edge as he looked a little bit better against Kelly Pavlik, Enrique Ornelas, Roy Jones and Jean Pascal, compared to how Dawson looked in his fights against Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson, Jean Pascal and Adrian Diaconu.
The Roy Jones bout was terrible though, a fight that should never, ever take place again.
As how the fight turns out, I expect the executioner to execute a sensational game plan. Hopkins will frustrate Dawson early and often, with his pressure and patented rough house tactics. As the fight progresses, Hopkins will systematically breakdown Dawson.
Dawson excels at a slow pace, and will be better off at a slower pace, unless he is the one initiating the action and taking the fight to Hopkins.
The problem is he hasn’t shown to be assertive offensively in recent fights and if that trend remains in this fight Hopkins will capitalize off that similar to what Glen Johnson did to Dawson in their first fight back in 2008, and like what Pascal did to Dawson last year.
From a physical aspect, Dawson has all of the advantages against the older fighter Hopkins.
Even though Dawson sports the physical advantages, he doesn’t completely dwarf his opponent and Hopkins has enough tools and tactics in his arsenal to overwhelm most of his opponents.
This fight is going to boil down to who has more mental strength. And it seems Hopkins has an unlimited supply.
He knows the weaknesses of Dawson and will use every trick in the book to gain whatever edge or advantage he can in this fight.
He knows how to fight when tired, hurt and knows how to win even when the odds are stacked against him.
Factor all of that in with the recent issues with the Dawson camp, the financial problems, changes with management and most recently with his head trainers, I see Hopkins emerging victorious tonight.
Hopkins by unanimous decision, in a somewhat entertaining fight.