WBC orders rematch of title bout
The WBC on Thursday ordered a rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and former titleholder Chad Dawson in one of the many moves it made during its meeting on mandatory defenses at its 49th annual convention in Las Vegas.
In another notable decision, it ordered middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to fight Sergio Martinez, the lineal champion, who had previously been stripped by the WBC.
The Hopkins-Dawson II order came two days after the California State Athletic Commission changed the result of their controversial Oct. 15 fight in Los Angeles from a second-round knockout in Dawson's favor to a no decision following Hopkins' protest.
Originally, referee Pat Russell ruled Dawson a TKO winner after he lifted Hopkins up and dumped him to the canvas because Hopkins was draped over his back after missing a punch. Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury and could not continue.
The WBC, which sanctioned the bout, had already kept Hopkins as its champion following the fight and now has ordered a rematch with the caveat of "unless their representatives mutually agree to another arrangement."
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That means the camps could try to make a deal or agree to do at least one interim bout. The organization also ordered former champion Jean Pascal and Ismayl Sillakh to meet in a title eliminator with the winner becoming the next mandatory challenger.
Gary Shaw, Dawson's promoter, was pleased with the WBC's decision.
"I think justice has been served," he said. "When Hopkins had a draw with Pascal, the WBC gave him an immediate rematch. And now they have done the same thing for Dawson after the controversy."
When Dawson thought he was champion after being declared the winner in October, he vowed not to give Hopkins a rematch. After the result was changed Tuesday, he said he wanted a rematch, but Hopkins said he would not fight Dawson again.
Now that the WBC has ordered a rematch, Hopkins said he would take the fight, which might not actually happen because the first fight was such a commercial disaster that finding a network to put up the money required to make the fight could be very difficult. That is why the sides may agree to look for different fights.
Still, Hopkins said he wants to try to make the rematch.
"Let's get the ball rolling," Hopkins, who turns 47 next month, told ESPN.com after leaving the convention. "The fans got cheated because of circumstances in the first fight. Now they get an opportunity to get their money's worth. It's been a really interesting 48 hours. Things are different now because of that (order). Let's get it on. The bottom line is a champion defends his belt. That's what champions do. I believe I am the best at light heavyweight. So my whole thing is champions defend, they don't get stripped, they don't throw belts away. I've done it for 20 years and I ain't changing my stripes today."
Hopkins said if the fight can't be made for economic reasons, he would look elsewhere.
"Whatever is best economically without having my belt stripped then I'm fine with that," he said. "I duck no one. I never did. But if the fans and the people and the networks believe that Chad Dawson don't draw bees to honey -- and this is a business -- then that is what it is. I've earned this championship belt and I am not ready to leave."
Hopkins said he was game for the second fight and pointed to his record in rematches.
"My record speaks for itself. I'm normally victorious the second time round," he said.
After a draw with Pascal last December, he outpointed him in May to become the oldest fighter to win a world title. He then avenged a loss to Roy Jones last year.
Hopkins defeated Antwun Echols in a rematch of a prior win, twice defeated Robert Allen after their first bout ended in a no contest and knocked out Segundo Mercado to win his first world title at middleweight after their first fight ended in a draw.
Only Jermain Taylor got the better of Hopkins in both meetings.
Hopkins may find conflict with Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, his promoter, who is not interested in pursuing the rematch with Dawson.
"I think that there is no interest in this fight," he said. "As long as the fighters know that, and they are OK with whatever money there is, then why would I want to stop that fight from happening? I really just want to do fights the public would want to see and where I know going into the fight that it will be entertaining. I just don't think that these two styles mesh."
The WBC's order of a Chavez-Martinez fight was also made with the caveat of "unless their representatives mutually agree to another arrangement." That is likely to happen because Top Rank, Chavez's promoter, does not want to make the fight in order to protect big money-maker Chavez from the far superior Martinez.
Top Rank already has a Feb. 5 HBO fight in the works for Chavez, while Lou DiBella, Martinez's promoter, has a March 17 HBO fight in the works.
Martinez wants to fight Chavez, but DiBella acknowledged that making it the next bout is unlikely.
"Chavez has to fight Martinez next unless we make a deal," DiBella said. "But we have leverage. So we'll talk to (Top Rank's Bob) Arum and to HBO and see what we can work out."
In other notable WBC mandatory fights ordered:
• The winner of Saturday's Super Six World Boxing Classic final between titleholders Carl Froch and Andre Ward was ordered to face Anthony Dirrell, the younger brother of Super Six participant Andre Dirrell.
• Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez does not have a mandatory bout due yet, but eliminators were ordered to determine it. The winner of the Jan. 28 James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight would have to face Vanes Martirosyan with that winner getting the mandatory opportunity.
• At junior welterweight, the winner of the Jan. 28 fight between titlist Erik Morales and Danny Garcia must next fight Ajose Olusegun.
• Lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco, who won the vacant belt against Jorge Linares on the Hopkins-Dawson undercard, was given permission to have one voluntary defense before he must face Linares again.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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