By: William Holmes
By 10pm, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City is packed and the crowd is anxious for the biggest boxing card of the year.
The opening bout of the televised card was between Chazz Witherspoon and Seth Mitchell in the heavyweight division. The main event was a rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson for the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Despite the fact that Chazz Witherspoon (30-2) fights out of Philadelphia, PA, more people in Boardwalk Hall appeared to be cheering on Seth Mitchell (24-0-1) than Witherspoon as they both walked out of the locker room and into the ring.
The crowd was packed, and eagerly anticipated a relevant fight in the heavyweight division between two of the best in the division the US has to offer. Both fighters got decent props from the crowd as their names were announced.
In the first round, Witherspoon came out very active and effective with his jab in an attempt to keep Mitchell away at a safe distance. Mitchell attacked the body of Witherspoon but was unable to land any hard shots inside. Witherspoon landed a few hard right hooks and a vicious straight right hand. Mitchell held on after getting tagged with a straight right hand and Witherspoon smelled blood. Witherspoon continued to unload short hooks on Mitchell and Mitchell looked wobbly. Another right hand from Witherspoon rocked Mitchell as Witherspoon easily took the first round.
Mitchell came out in the second round and tried to fight in close with body and head combinations, but Witherspoon was able to land some combinations of his own. Witherspoon ducked under an overhand right from Mitchell and they exchanged and landed jabs at the same time. Mitchell connected with a combination and a straight right hand by the corner. Witherspoon was starting to look tired, but landed a straight right hand. Mitchell attacked the body of Witherspoon and was doing some serious damage. Both fighters looked exhausted as Mitchell took the second round.
Witherspoon was knocked down early in the third round by Mitchell and looked to be in some serious trouble. He was able to get back up, but was met with some hard hooks to the body and head by Mitchell. Mitchell backed Witherspoon in to a corner and unloaded another combination on Witherspoon. Mitchell was showing good body and head combinations and he pummeled Witherspoon by the corner and the referee stopped the fight. Witherspoon looked out on his feet, and Mitchell was impressive in surviving the first round onslaught to take the victory.
Seth Mitchell remains undefeated and after a shaky start, was very impressive in doing so. He scores the TKO at 2:31 of the third round.
As Chad Dawson (30-1) walked out for the main event, it was clear that he was walking into enemy territory. As he walked into the ring, he was greeted by a healthy dose of Philadelphia boos.
The pre-fight Hopkins montage got the Atlantic City crowd to its feet, and the excitement was thick. Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2) came out in his usual executioner mask, with some R&B music playing in the background.
Prior to the start of the fight, a respectable and well deserved silent ten count was given to the recently deceased Bert Sugar.
Dawson and Hopkins both looked confident, and the crowd was solidly in support of their champion, Bernard Hopkins.
The southpaw Dawson came out in the first round flicking out his jab and both fighters looked more than willing to be patient. Hopkins used a lot of feints in the first round as he tried to figure out Dawson’s timing and range. Hopkins was not very active, and some in the crowd began to boo. Hopkins jumped in and grabbed onto Dawson and landed a few short right hooks. Dawson landed a three-punch combination as the first round ended. Dawson’s round.
Hopkins missed with two straight right hands early on in the second round, and he looked to be trying to set up a trap for Dawson. Hopkins landed a solid lead right hand, his first effective punch of the night. Dawson chased Hopkins near the corner with a combination and cleanly landed at least one punch. Hopkins was able to tag Dawson with a short left hook on the inside. Hopkins came forward and connected with another straight right hand. Round two was closer than round one, and scored by this writer in favor of Hopkins.
Hopkins landed another lead right hand early on in the third round. Dawson landed a two-punch combination to the body and head of Dawkins near the corner, but Hopkins was able to slip the follow up combination from Dawson. Hopkins connected with another lead right hand as he came forward. Hopkins landed two short punches while they were clinched and the referee warned both of the fighters. Hopkins again came forward with a combination and then slipped out of the way of a Dawson combination. The third round could be scored for either Dawson or Hopkins.
Despite being 47 years old, Hopkins still has incredible reflexes and stamina. Hopkins again clinched with Dawson and landed some short inside shots. Both Dawson and Hopkins connected with hooks near the ropes, though Dawson may have landed the harder punch. Dawson may have been head-butted and has blood pouring out of his left eye. The crowd saw the blood and began to chant for B-Hop to press on. Hopkins begins to showboat, much to the delight of the Atlantic City crowd, and nails Dawson with a brutal straight right hand. Dawson connected with a straight left hand of his own. Hopkins ducked under two hooks from Dawson as the round ended, and that hard straight right hand may have won Hopkins the round.
Hopkins connected with a short left hook early in the fifth round, but the referee sternly warned him for head-butts. Dawson attacked Hopkins by the corner with short combinations, but Hopkins was able to dance out of trouble again. Dawson landed two hooks to the body of Hopkins by the ropes, and was able to brush off Hopkins as he came forward. Hopkins sticks a jab in the face of Dawson before they tied up. Dawson landed a hard straight left hand on Hopkins. Dawson looked to have thrown Hopkins towards the ropes, but he easily won that round.
Hopkins landed another straight right hand to start off the sixth round. Hopkins rushed forward with a two-punch combination to the body and head, and Dawson rushed back at him with a two punch combination of his own. Hopkins landed a two-punch combination in the center of the ring, and bounced off the corner with a straight right hand. Dawson digs a hard left uppercut into the stomach of Hopkins by the ropes. Dawson landed a straight left hand, and then gives Hopkins a taste of his own medicine with several short uppercuts as they are tied up. Round six was another round that should have been scored in favor of Dawson.
Hopkins came out for round seven throwing the early two-punch combination, and was able to land a straight right hand to the body of Dawson. Hopkins came forward and landed a two-punch combination. Dawson rushes Hopkins by the corner, but Hopkins uses his wits and ties up with Dawson. Hopkins rushes forward and they again clinch by the corner. Hopkins rushes Dawson again by the corner and partially connects with a two-punch combination. Hopkins rushed forward and lands a solid right uppercut, and then jukes his way out of the reach of the counter from Dawson. Round seven was a much better round for Hopkins, and scored in his favor.
Round eight started and they tied up almost immediately. Dawson caught Hopkins with a right hook as Hopkins tried to back away. They both exchange and land near the center of the ring but Dawson appeared to land the harder punches. Dawson attacked the body of Hopkins by the corner and scored cleanly. Dawson again landed a solid combination near the corner and a beautiful left uppercut. Dawson connected with several more short shots on Hopkins as he rushed forward: it looks like Dawson may be figuring out the style of Dawson. There is no question that Dawson took round eight.
Hopkins missed early in round nine with a wild overhand right. Dawson continued to stalk Hopkins around the ring and used his right hand defensively to stop Hopkins from rushing forward with combinations. Hopkins connected with a left right combination near the center of the ring. Dawson slipped several jabs from Hopkins and they tied up again near the ropes. Dawson and Hopkins exchange near the ropes, with Hopkins landing a solid jab and Dawson a straight left. Round nine was close and could be scored either way.
Hopkins is behind on the scorecards at the beginning of the 10th round, and Dawson landed an early left hook and followed it up with a right hook as Hopkins rushed in. Dawson stings Hopkins with a left uppercut as Hopkins came forward. Hopkins rushed forward twice but Dawson ducks out of the way of the charging Hopkins. Dawson banged a two-punch combination at the guard of Hopkins. Dawson should be comfortably ahead at this point, as he out-boxed Hopkins in the 10th round.
With two rounds left to go, Hopkins has to go forward and go for the knockout. Hopkins and Dawson are both aware of this, as Hopkins came out aggressive and Dawson was not hesitant to tie up. Hopkins landed a good straight right hand on Dawson in the center of the ring. Dawson nailed Hopkins with a straight left hand and they tied up afterwards. Hopkins slipped to the ground and Dawson looked away in disgust. They both tie up again and Hopkins and Dawson fall to the ground. The referee sends both fighters to the corner and warned both of them. This fight has been dirty and messy fight so far, but Dawson has been able to effectively handle the tactics of Hopkins. Dawson takes round 11.
In the 12th and final round the referee made both fighters touch gloves in the center of the ring. Despite being behind in the scorecards, Hopkins was unable to land any hard shots on Dawson. Hopkins connected with a straight right hand on Dawson, and they tied up afterwards. They exchange near the ropes and this time Dawson gets the better of Hopkins. Hopkins landed perhaps his best punches of the night with a straight left, straight right combination. Hopkins wins the last round, but it is too little too late.
The official scores were 114-114, 117-111, and 117-111 for Chad Dawson.
Chad Dawson faced a very game and competitive Bernard Hopkins tonight, but he was able to counter the wily and experienced champion and regain the Light Heavyweight Championship.