5 Reasons Why Bernard Hopkins Will Execute “Bad” Chad Dawson
Bernard Hopkins has made a career of defying the odds. After spending time in a Philadelphia prison and losing his first professional prizefight, Hopkins went onto become Middleweight champion of the world and defend the title a record 20 consecutive times.
While many great fighters hit the wall and experience a significant drop off in skill as the age increases, Hopkins seems to still possess many of the same qualities that have made him a great fighter.
On Saturday, Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) makes his first defense of his light heavyweight title against “Bad” Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the younger, faster and stronger Dawson should have his way with the aged fighter.
However, conventional wisdom does not apply to Bernard Hopkins. On Saturday night the wily, old veteran will not only fight Dawson but father time as well.
As is the case in most of his fights, the 46 year old Hopkins will win. Here are five reasons why.
5. Dawson's Lack of Power
Chad Dawson has won 31 of his 32 bouts. Of his victories, 17 have come via stoppage. He has knocked people out at a rate of 54 percent. Not a terrible number but not a great number either.
The reason such a stat pertains to the argument is because Dawson enthusiasts will claim that he is the bigger, stronger man, who will somehow be able to use his size and strength to his advantage.
Unfortunately for Dawson, he is fighting a boxer with an iron chin who rarely has been put down in his brilliant career.
Dawson himself has not scored a stoppage in over four years. He will need to land some big shots in order to pull this victory out. He is not a particular busy fighter and often fights in spurts. Against Hopkins that could leave him in a world of trouble.
Hopkins will do his best to make it an ugly fight and steal rounds in doing so. If Dawson cannot land any punches of consequence he might not have a way to keep B-Hop off of him.
4. Chad Dawson's Corner Concerns
A lot of the boxing public jumped at the idea of Chad Dawson replacing trainer Dan Birmingham with Emanuel Steward. Many saw it as beneficial for his fight with Hopkins. As if the trainer was going to be the one to put the gloves on. Dawson won a decision in his only fight under Steward’s tutelage, but was not overly impressive against Adrian Diaconu.
Then inexplicably Dawson got rid of Steward as his trainer and decided to bring in former trainer John Scully last month. The Dawson camp blamed location as a reason for the split. Dawson wanted to train closer to his home of Connecticut and Steward is based in Detroit.
Nonetheless the split shows that perhaps Dawson’s head might not totally be focused on the fight. Scully worked with Dawson a few years back, but Dawson has also been cornered by Floyd Mayweather Sr., Dan Birmingham, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
In one of Hopkins first interviews after the fight was announced he heaped an awful lot of praise in the direction of Steward. The way Hopkins spoke would lead you to believe he was more concerned with Steward than with Dawson. A trainer might not win a boxer a fight but not having a good one sure can lose it for him.
3. Bernard Hopkins Championship Experience
Before he moved up and wiped out champions at 175 pounds, Bernard Hopkins ruled the Middleweight division for over a decade. Hopkins won a piece of the Middleweight title in 1992 and held some form of the title until losing to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
Along the way Hopkins defeated a long list of quality opponents including: Glen Johnson, William Joppy, Felix Trinidad, Robert Allen, Oscar De La Hoya, and Kelly Pavlik.
Hopkins reign of terror should have stopped there but he went up to Light Heavyweight and avenged a loss to Roy Jones before twice fighting Jean Pascal.
When Hopkins steps into the ring on Saturday he will be fighting in his 35th championship fight. Chad Dawson has fought only 32 times in his entire career.
Will the pressure of fighting the great Bernard Hopkins be too much for Dawson to handle?
2. Hopkins Mental Edge
Bernard Hopkins is one of the best trash talkers in the business. He has had a long history of insulting many fighters prior to their fights.
In 2001, Hopkins caused a riot in Puerto Rico when he threw a Puerto Rican flag on the ground during a press conference to hype his fight with Felix Trinidad. Hopkins also placed a $100,000 bet on himself to beat Trinidad. Whether any of the pre-fight antics worked or not is unknown, but Hopkins did crush Trinidad in route of a 12th round stoppage.
Hopkins pushed “Winky” Wright in the face prior to their 2007 bout which he went onto win. He used similar bullying tactics to mentally breakdown Kelly Pavlik giving him the first defeat of his career.
Hopkins has already started the trash talk with Dawson, but the challenger has remained poised thus far. One has to wonder if Dawson is not secretly affected by the fact that Hopkins just beat Jean Pascal, the only man to ever beat Dawson. Antics aside Hopkins mental edge does not end outside the ring.
Once the fight begins Dawson will come to see how hard it is to cleanly hit Hopkins. The most important question is can he stay composed when Hopkins starts to foul him?
1. Hopkins Will to Win
Hopkins will to win might dictate how this fight plays out more than any other factor. At 46, Hopkins is still regarded as one of the pound for pound best fighters in the sport. Yet, he seems to carry a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. He seems so obsessed with his own legacy that he refuses to retire and allow himself to be enshrined in the boxing Hall of Fame.
Perhaps it is because Hopkins felt he never got the respect he deserved as the Middleweight champion. He was not a huge Pay Per View attraction, is often passed over when people talk about the greatest Middleweight’s of all-time, and seems to take it personal when anyone picks against him in a fight.
After his 2008 victory over Kelly Pavlik which earned him Ring Magazine’s “Upset of The Year,” Hopkins walked along the edge of the ring and glared at all the writers along press row (many of whom picked against him) as if to say “don’t ever pick against me”.
It seems to be the quest to defy the odds and turn the doubters into believers that drives Hopkins to keep fighting. He no longer needs the money and with his last victory he broke George Foreman’s record and became the oldest boxer to ever capture a major title in the sport.
There is no reason for Hopkins to continue boxing; he has nothing left to prove. However his desire to hush up all his naysayers seems to be so personally tantalizing that Hopkins may well fight until he is 50 years old and beyond.
And the Winner Is...
Chad Dawson’s best chance of winning this fight is to start fast and stay busy. The pace is going to be key for both fighters. Dawson does not always fight at a quick pace but to offset Hopkins bullying tactics he is going to have to. In his fight with Jean Pascal in May, Hopkins seemed to run out of gas at the end and Pascal tried but was unsuccessful in rallying. However if the fight is slow Hopkins will be able to conserve energy and box his fight for all 12 rounds.
Dawson must also use his height and reach advantage to keep Hopkins from working inside. It was a cut caused by a clash of heads that stopped Dawson’s fight with Pascal. There might not be a fighter more skilled at using his head and elbows as weapons than Hopkins. Dawson will need to remain calm and not allow Hopkins to drag him into a street fight.
Dawson should control the early part of the fight by keeping his distance and winning rounds with quick flurries. As the fight moves forward Hopkins will figure out Dawson’s timing and movement, and turn the fight into a wrestling match. Dawson will become frustrated and throw away a few rounds.
The last few rounds will go back and forth but be fought at a Hopkins like pace. The older Hopkins will land the better blows and then tie Dawson up. Dawson will be unable to land anything significant and will become reckless. Hopkins will take advantage and steal the final rounds.
Outcome: Hopkins wins by Unanimous Decision.