Dawson: 'It's going to be a wake-up call'
So far, no challenge has been too daunting for "Bad" Chad Dawson. He dethroned then-undefeated Tomasz Adamek in 2007 to become the WBC light heavyweight champion and later added the IBF crown to his trophy case with a victory over Antonio Tarver before dropping a controversial technical decision against Jean Pascal in Canada in his only loss to date. But on Saturday, Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) will try to regain his title against boxing's oldest champion and one of the most accomplished fighters of his generation in Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), the former middleweight champ who began a second run as light heavyweight champion by defeating Pascal in May 2010. We caught up with Dawson during the final stages of his training camp to talk about his cutting ties with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, his recent reunion with former trainer John "Iceman" Scully, the role of Winky Wright on his team and the challenge that lies ahead.
How was your training for this fight? Did the last-minute change in trainers affect you in any way?
Training camp has been great, I had great sparring, everything just went great. [The change] didn't hurt my training at all. I think it helped my training. I am back with John Scully, who is someone I worked with earlier in my career and someone who I believe tends to bring the best out of me.
Chad Dawson chat wrap
Find out what Chad Dawson, who fights light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins on Saturday, had to say to SportsNation. Chat wrap »
What prompted the split with Emanuel Steward? What did you learn from him?
Steward contributed a lot to my style. I worked well with Emanuel Steward. He is a great trainer, he knows everything about boxing, he is smart, intelligent. But in order to become the "Bad" Chad Dawson I was earlier in my career, it was only right that I brought John Scully back in, someone with whom I had nothing but success. I think I was 7-0 with Scully. Earlier in my career when I was with him, everything was great. I had a lot of knockouts, and I was an all-around great fighter. I definitely think he is going to be a great asset in the corner for this fight -- but not just that; John Scully is a boxing expert, he has been around boxing for years, he has known me since I was a little boy, since my first amateur fight, so I've been around him, I sparred with him when I was an amateur. He knows me as a fighter and he knows me as a person, so I'd rather have someone like that around me than someone who doesn't know me as a person. Scully was a great fighter and he is a great trainer now, so it was only right that I would bring him back in. I am definitely more comfortable with him being here.
You will also have Winky Wright in your corner. What does he bring to the table?
He helps me with advice on a few things. Not just a few things, but a lot of things. He's been in the ring with Bernard, so he is experienced in all of the dirty tricks that Bernard pulls. He knows Bernard's weaknesses and strengths, so having him around has been great, too. He is keeping me on point as far as the things that I can't do against Bernard Hopkins, things that are going to be to his advantage, and keeping me [on] my toes.
What is your take on Hopkins? How do you approach this fight against such a resourceful guy?
I don't have a different approach for this fight. I am going in there just to be the Chad Dawson everyone has been waiting to see for the last couple of years. My combination punching is going to definitely upset him. We just want to keep him at the end of my punches, you know, and keep him in a place where he can't react to anything. He is definitely looking 46 years old, and his reflexes are not what they used to be a few years ago, and all of those things are going to be to my advantage. I've got better reflexes, I am younger and faster, I am definitely stronger. So if you look at it, it looks like I have a lot of advantages. But like I said, he is a veteran, he is well-crafted, he's been around a long time and he fought some of the best fighters in the world. So I am not going into this fight looking past Bernard or underestimating him. I know that when I am on my game, Bernard Hopkins won't be able to touch me.
Do you believe your southpaw stance will give him trouble? How much of a factor do you think your reach advantage will be? I have a great reach advantage, I have a height advantage, and on the night of the fight, I believe I will be the bigger fighter. [There] comes a night in every fighter's career like this one for Bernard Hopkins. He is 46 years old, and I believe this is going to be the night when he realizes that boxing is just not for him anymore. It's going to be a wake-up call for him to learn that he can't hang with these young guys anymore.
The main criticism of you is that you have appeared uninspired and unmotivated at times. Do you think Hopkins' level of motivation and intensity will be a factor in this fight?
No, I am not worried about that. I had a great training camp, one of the best training camps I've had in recent years, and I think people will be able to see that when I get into the ring and I take my shirt off. My body is in shape, 100 percent, I am mentally there, I am motivated. I haven't felt this comfortable in a training camp in years, and everything is going so great that it's only right that I go out and execute my game plan and I go out and show everybody that I am still one of the best fighters in the world. Like I said, I am not looking past Bernard Hopkins -- he is a great fighter, a great legend, he has done everything that there is to do in the sport, he became the oldest fighter to ever win a championship. I am not taking anything for granted. I just know that this is going to be a night in which he is going to say, "I can't hang with these young guys anymore." I am going to make him look his age.
Is the light heavyweight division your limit, or is there a chance we might see you fighting above this weight?
I haven't done everything I want to do in the light heavyweight division yet. I want to go out and capture the WBA title, too. I want to become the undisputed light heavyweight titlist before I think about moving up or down. So I want to clean the division and I want to prove to everyone that I definitely am one of the best light heavyweights ever in the history of boxing. That is my goal.
Win or lose, what's the plan for after this fight?
I don't have plans. This is going to be my night; it's going to be a historic night for myself and for my family. I just look forward to executing my game plan and everything I worked on in training camp, and to show everybody that I am still one of the best fighters in the world.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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