"Bad" Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KO) returns to the 175-pound division to defend his WBC light heavyweight title against Adonis "Superman" Stevenson (20-1, 17 KO) on Saturday night from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
This is an intriguing matchup of southpaws, yet there is a boxer vs. puncher dynamic.
We could see fireworks or a dominant boxing performance that many may find boring. Either way, this is a major fight on the calendar that boxing fans will want to be plugged into.
Here's how you can catch the action and some deeper analysis into this matchup of contrasting styles.
When: Saturday, June 8 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Live Stream: HBOGO (Replay only - Pay Service)
Here is HBO analyst and super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward breaking down the bout:
The Book on Dawson
Back in His Comfort Zone?
Dawson was dismantled in his last bout by Ward. The 168-pound champion's speed and punching accuracy befuddled Dawson.
In a stunning event, Dawson quit in the 10th round after being dropped for the third time in the fight. He was clearly outmatched, but it was surprising to see him forgo the rest of the bout—especially since he didn't appear to be badly hurt.
The fight took place at 168 pounds, and perhaps for the first time in his career, Dawson was the slower man in the ring. That probably has a lot to do with why Bad Chad is happy to be fighting at 175 pounds again.
In an interview with ESPN's Brian Campbell, Dawson said:
In the Ward fight, it took a lot out of me and I got to see how physically strong I was at 175 as opposed to being at 168. It was kind of a blessing in disguise to show me I shouldn't have taken the fight at that weight, but I did.
It was my error and Andre Ward took advantage of it. Now I'm back at light heavyweight and I'm looking forward to continuing to be the best in the world.
There is likely some validity in what Dawson said, but the ordeal creates a question for Dawson moving forward: Will being forced to quit make pushing the panic button easier for him the rest of his career?
We could find out if he gets into trouble against Stevenson.
In the Ring
As pure, skilled boxers go, Dawson is among the best. He's 6'1", has a 76" reach and uses both to his advantage. He isn't a hard puncher, which can allow an overmatched fighter to stay competitive with him.
Against Ward, Dawson landed some hard counter shots early, but they seemingly had no effect on Ward. If you look at his modest KO total and the fact that he hasn't stopped an opponent in almost six years, the knockout probably isn't even part of Dawson's thinking anymore.
Against Stevenson, he may not need it to be. Dawson is longer and more skilled, but the challenger is explosive. If Dawson felt zinged by Ward's punches, he doesn't want to taste Stevenson's power.
Using his jab and employing lateral movement are key for Dawson to retain his title.
When he's right and in control, Dawson can make things look easy with his combination of punching accuracy, speed and defense. Take a look at him against veteran Antonio Tarver in 2009.
The Book on Stevenson
At 35, Superman Is Getting His First Shot at the Big Time
Stevenson is originally from Haiti but lives in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada now. His current residence will make him the clear favorite amongst the crowd in the Bell Centre. The popular Canadian venue is Stevenson's home away from home.
His last five fights have taken place there. Even though he'll be in familiar surroundings, this fight is still bigger than any other he's had.
Stevenson did destroy Noe Gonzalez Alcoba for the WBC Silver super middleweight title in April 2012, but that fight was broadcast on ESPN Friday Night Fights.
It paled in comparison to the opportunity he has on Saturday. Stevenson is facing a respected world champion in a main event on HBO. This is as big as it gets—except for headlining a pay-per-view event.
At 35 years old, Stevenson has taken awhile to get this opportunity, but he'll be looking to capitalize on it and make a statement.
In the Ring
Though he's a good athlete with decent boxing skills, he'll be looking to finish Dawson the first chance he gets. He's making his debut at 175 pounds, but I don't think moving up in weight will have an impact on his power.
Stevenson is one of those fighters who would probably keep his power at any weight class. Take a look at this devastating one-punch KO of Jesus Gonzalez in February 2012:
Superman's biggest issues against Dawson will be in the speed department.
He could have issues finding the champion. Beyond the speed, Dawson also has the superior jab and the length to maximize the effectiveness of his punches.
Who wins this fight and how?
To win this fight, Stevenson needs to touch Dawson early to shake his confidence. If he can do that, he'll have a shot at scoring an exciting KO victory. If he can't, Dawson will pick him apart all night from a safe distance.
This is a tricky prediction. Dawson is the better boxer by far, but Stevenson isn't a complete brawler devoid of any boxing skills.
Combine that with the fact that he has pure dynamite in his gloves, and I predict an upset win for Superman. He'll stop Dawson around the fifth round with a barrage that begins with a massive straight left hand.
Stevenson's explosiveness is difficult to contain, and Dawson may carry some of the effects from the loss to Ward into this fight.
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