WBC and The Ring light heavyweight champion "Bad" Chad Dawson will defend his titles in enemy territory on Saturday night as he takes on Adonis "Superman" Stevenson in Montreal. The Canadian crowd will be firmly in Stevenson's corner, but Dawson is favored heading into the bout nonetheless.
Even so, it won't be an easy fight for Dawson. He is coming off a tough TKO loss to Andre Ward, and it's possible that his confidence is shaken. Stevenson has big-time punching power in his own right and is well aware of what happened in Dawson's last fight, so the champion must approach this contest carefully.
Here are the biggest keys to Dawson outlasting the upstart Stevenson when they go toe-to-toe at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
Go the Distance
With only 21 professional fights to his credit, stamina could potentially be an issue for Stevenson. He is 20-1 with 17 knockouts, so he isn't used to going 12 rounds. In fact, Stevenson has never completed a full, 12-round fight during his career, as his three unanimous-decision wins were shorter fights.
Of Stevenson's first eight fights, seven of them ended in the second round or earlier. He has gone a bit deeper in his latest fights as the competition has heated up; however, he doesn't have Dawson's extensive big-fight experience. The incumbent champion is 31-2-2 with 17 knockouts, so he is familiar with competing for 12 hard rounds.
Dawson has beaten some big names by decision, including Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver. He is in spectacular shape and is built to last 12 rounds. Unless a knockout is there for the taking, Dawson's best strategy is to go the distance.
Avoid Stevenson's Punching Power
Dawson appears to be a more complete fighter than Stevenson, but the Haitian-Canadian star has him beat in the power department. Stevenson has prolific power and has made a name for himself with highlight-reel knockouts. Dawson has underrated pop, but he cannot afford to get involved in a slugfest with Stevenson.
Dawson's last fight was a loss to Ward, as the rising star won via technical knockout in the 10th round. Fittingly enough, Ward offered a scouting report for Dawson vs. Stevenson as a part of HBO Boxing. Ward maintained the biggest key for Dawson is to prove that he can handle Stevenson's fists of fury.
A guy like Stevenson always has a chance because he can end a fight with a single punch. That is why Dawson needs to make sure that he doesn't put himself in a precarious position. Stevenson has taken advantage of unsuspecting opponents before, and Dawson doesn't want to end up on that list. As long as Dawson plays it smart, he should be fine.
Who will win this fight?
Use His Experience to His Advantage
At 35 years of age, Stevenson is actually five years older than Dawson, but he got a late start as a professional boxer. Stevenson has been boxing for a long time; however, this is by far the biggest fight of his career. Dawson has had plenty of big fights already, so he won't let the big stage faze him.
Stevenson has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Not only is he fighting in front of his hometown fans, he has a chance to launch his career to new heights.
Dawson fought and defeated one of the greatest fighters of this generation in the form of Hopkins, and he definitely won't be flustered. Dawson needs to exude confidence in this fight because that will make Stevenson even more nervous.
Experience is an important intangible in boxing because it can only be gained over time. Stevenson's big-fight track record will look a lot better after this fight, but that won't help him on Saturday. Dawson knows how to handle these types of situations, and he will handle his business in Montreal.
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