Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson agree
Light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and former titlist Chad Dawson, who fought to a controversial second-round no-decision last fall, will meet again April 28 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, both camps told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter, and Gary Shaw, who promotes Dawson, came to terms as they faced a Friday afternoon deadline for a WBC-ordered purse bid in the mandatory fight.
"I have a chance to settle the bull---- from the first fight and straighten that all out," Hopkins said. "A real athlete don't want to win something on a disqualification or a no-decision or get something handed to them without doing the work. I'm ready to go.
"Dawson has a chance to prove to the world what he thinks he can do to me and I have a chance to prove that he's not going to do what he thinks he's going to do."
The first fight, Oct. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, ended in a storm of controversy when it came to a sudden end in the second round.
After Hopkins missed with a right hand, he wound up draped over Dawson's back and Dawson grabbed Hopkins by the leg, lifted him and shoved him down to the canvas. Hopkins landed awkwardly on the edge of the ring, suffering what was later diagnosed as a dislocation of the joint connecting his left shoulder to his collarbone.
Although Hopkins told the ringside doctor and referee Pat Russell while he was on the canvas that he could go on using one arm, the fight was halted. Instead of ruling a no-decision because an unintentional foul had ended the fight, Russell said no foul had been committed and awarded Dawson a TKO victory.
Despite the outcome, the WBC kept Hopkins as its champion and later ordered a rematch. But Hopkins appealed the decision to the California State Athletic Commission and the result was overturned to a no-decision at a hearing on Dec. 13. Russell testified at the hearing and said he made an error.
Schaefer and Shaw said that HBO has agreed to buy the fight and that they are negotiating the specific rights fee.
The first bout was a dismal failure on HBO PPV after the network, which has Hopkins under contract, elected to "flip" the fight to pay-per-view in a budgetary move. HBO paid $3 million for the first fight. Schaefer and Shaw both conceded that the license fee for the rematch would be considerably less.
"Richard and I have made a deal and we have presented the fight to HBO," Shaw said. "We're working on the numbers but I congratulate Hopkins on his willingness to take a fight that a lot of people said he would not take again. As for Chad, he can't wait for the rematch. He believed he was going to beat him in the first fight and he believes he will stop him in this fight."
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Schaefer said he and Shaw have Boardwalk Hall on hold and expect to finalize the deal with HBO shortly.
"We haven't agreed on the number yet, but HBO is would like to do this fight and they told us they are OK with April 28," Schaefer said.
He said they have proposed to HBO that the card be a doubleheader and also include as the opening television bout lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco, who is promoted by Shaw, against the Golden Boy-promoted Michael Katsidis, a longtime contender who has been in numerous action-packed fights.
Hopkins said his left shoulder feels good and that he will begin to hit the heavy bag in about two weeks.
"The shoulder is good," Hopkins said. "I wouldn't be going in this early to start getting ready if it wasn't."
Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) is from Philadelphia and Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), 29, is from New Haven, Conn. When the first fight landed at the Staples Center, where neither fighter had any constituency, it died at the gate. It sold only 3,888 tickets for a gross of just $285,677. It wound up there because the Northeast venues that the promoters looked at were unavailable.
In Atlantic City, the rematch figures to fare much better.
"I think it's a perfect place for the rematch," Schaefer said.
Said Hopkins, in the final bout of his HBO contract: "This is where it should have been the first time."
In May 2011, Hopkins, at age 46, became the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world championship when he went to Jean Pascal's hometown of Montreal and won a decision in their rematch of a prior draw.
Now, Hopkins, who turned 47 on Jan. 15, is looking to make a historic defense at that age.
"Since 2001, when I was 35 and I beat (Felix) 'Tito' Trinidad (to become undisputed middleweight champion in 2001), I've been hearing I was too old," Hopkins said. "Now it's 12 years later and I'm older, heavier and feel little things I didn't feel 10 years ago, natural things that are supposed to happen to you. But I'm ahead of the game against any 47-year-old who took a punch or never took a punch. I'm in great shape and ready to do this again.
"It's time to correct the first fight and let people get what they paid for, this time not on pay-per-view. They paid for a fight. They didn't come to see a round-and-a-half and then have that ending. It happened. You move on and you go ahead and give the people what they want and I'm pretty sure Dawson thinks the same thing and that he will be overconfident and think I will be easy to beat."
Hopkins pointed out his history of big upsets in Atlantic City, where he beat Antonio Tarver to win the light heavyweight title for the first time in 2006 and defeated Kelly Pavlik in another major upset in 2008.
"Both big fights and I was the underdog," Hopkins said of those upset wins. "I'm going out guns blazing in this fight, trust me. I will pull off my best performance in Atlantic City, and that's saying a lot. I have a history of making history in Atlantic City."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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