By Sean Crose
Floyd Mayweather once claimed Chad Dawson was numero uno as far as new fighters were concerned. Dawson is no longer a new fighter. Nor, judging by his last two spectacular loses, is he even close to being the best fighter out there. Let’s face it, the man has fallen from on high.
Is this the end of the story, though? Is Dawson honestly a has-been? Or a potential great who never quite got around to fulfilling his potential? In order to get to the bottom of these questions, one has to look into the recent, painful past.
Last summer, sometime Dawson trainer John Scully had some pretty surprising things to say to the Hartford Courant. Absorbing Scully’s words, one gets the impression Dawson’s brutal loss to Andre Ward was something anyone close to the Connecticut fighter could have seen coming.
Under the guidance of a conditioning trainer, Dawson had problems dropping weight. What’s more, Dawson was more than five pounds overweight the day before the weigh-in. Scully claims he wanted to call off the fight earlier, when it had become clear extra pounds would be an issue, but that his concern was brushed off entirely by the conditioning trainer.
Of course, one’s apt to ask why Scully didn’t at that point simply draw a line in the sand and tell Dawson “it’s this guy or me.” The truth, though, is that conditioning trainers (and, let’s face it, they can be shadowy figures) are now a major part of the fight game. Scully, a former contender himself, can no longer rely on his own skills in order to make a living. One may assume he has to rely on his fighters. And Dawson was nothing if not a premiere fighter at the time.
At any rate, Dawson’s performance against Ward was abysmal, as anyone who’s seen the fight can attest. Still, it could all have been shrugged off as a bridge too far, a simple drop in weight class that went south (no pun intended). Dawson could have – and SHOULD have – simply gone back up to light heavyweight and resumed performing like a master of his craft. His reputation may have been blemished, but a string of victories against solid competition could have acted as a solid memory eraser.
That’s not what happened, though. What happened is that Dawson got beat in his next match. Bad. Real bad. First round knockout bad. By a fighter who, if one is to believe Scully, Dawson refused to take seriously. No doubt Dawson takes Adonis Stevenson seriously now. The man is the hard hitting toast of the light heavyweight division thanks exclusively to the fact that he put Dawson on the mat.
Which brings us back to the question of what the future holds. In my opinion, it all depends on Dawson himself. His last two fights may have been disasters, yet, if Scully is correct, they were disasters which could have been prevented – at least theoretically. The fact is, Dawson is a fighter of incredible, if not exciting, skill. Some may argue he’s a bore, but few would say he isn’t good, REAL GOOD, when he’s at his best.
Whether or not the punishment he received in his last two matches has taken a toll is something that remains to be seen. For now, though, Dawson should stay at light heavyweight, start taking his opposition seriously, stick with one trainer and be very, VERY careful about working with a conditioning expert.
Reading the Hartford Courant article, one feels that Dawson was a man in need of being humbled. Now that he’s been humbled twice, it’s time for Bad Chad to move on.
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