Chad Dawson easily outboxed Glen Johnson over twelve rounds last night at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, to earn a leisurely unanimous decision before a crowd of 5,230. Scores were 115-113, 115-113, and 117-111.
It was a nondescript bout. Johnson, now 49-13-2 (33), rarely connected with anything significant. Although he applied considerable pressure in the fifth, sixth and twelfth rounds, Johnson was unable to mount a consistent attack and was more or less outclassed from bell to bell.
Dawson, whose record improves to 29-0-0-1 (17), was in command throughout, but it was never particularly exciting. A restless crowd began jeering intermittently during the 5th round and after the 10th the booing became a crescendo. After seeing Alfredo Angulo demolish Harry Yorgey in the semi, perhaps the crowd expected similar excitement in the HBO main event. If so, they were unfamiliar with the basic ingredients of the Bad Chad cocktail: Take 1/3 “brilliant,” mix with 2/3 “ho-hum,” add plenty of crushed ice, and muddle; a dash of bravura is never included; garnish with an opponent at least 10 years older.
Hartford, with the second highest poverty rate in the United States, may want to rethink dropping hard-earned–and hard to come by–shekels on prize fights in the future. As it is, the XL Center, with a capacity of 16,500, was less than one-third full to see two Alphabet Soup title conundrums and a mythical “P-4-P” entrant showcase his skills. Dawson, fighting out of New Haven, roughly 35 miles south of Hartford, has drawn fewer than 8,000 fans for his last three bouts combined. “It was important to put on a show for my hometown fans,” Dawson said after the decision was announced. No doubt he was misquoted.
It may not have been particularly scintillating, but Dawson fought with measured skill. With his nifty footwork, pinpoint jab, and supersonic hand speed, Dawson rendered Johnson, 173.5, helpless for long stretches of each round. He also retreated consistently and occasionally turned his back to skip away from Johnson. At times Johnson resembled an Astroland bumper car trying to chase down a Formula 1 auto. He was two or three steps behind at every turn and rarely put together a combination worth noting. His left hook was completely neutralized and the right hand that had staggered Dawson repeatedly in their first fight barely got through more than a handful of times.
Between rounds Johnson listened as his trainer, Orlando Cuellar, exhorted him to take risks and intensify his work rate. But Johnson could not comply and plodded on as round after round slipped by, each one a mirror image of its predecessor. In the fifth round Dawson seemed, like much of the crowd, to momentarily lose interest in the fight and allowed Johnson to reach him with an occasional shot, but there was little power behind his blows. Dawson, 175, rattled Johnson with a combination in the 9th and paused an instant from his Ring-Around-the-Rosie routine to exchange hard shots with Johnson in the 10th. Although Johnson, Miami, Florida via Jamaica, tried turning up the pressure, Dawson returned to form over the last six minutes of the bout and kept him at bay with movement and his southpaw jab. Scattered boos greeted the final bell.
Ironically, the scores last night were closer than they were for the first fight when Johnson did everything to Dawson but lock him in a Peruvian necktie. Two of the three judges, apparently, think plodding after a skittish boxer is in itself some kind of virtue.
After the fight Dawson told ringside analyst Max Kellerman that “The Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver chapter is closed. Now I can move on and fight some new faces, and reclaim my spot at the top.” He then expressed interest in fighting Bernard Hopkins.