There are good fights, there are bad fights, and then there was the October debacle in Los Angeles in a failed light heavyweight title match between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
On that night, after an uneventful first round, Dawson put a wrestling move on the oncoming Hopkins by lifting him off the ground and tossing him to the canvas. Hopkins landed hard and said he could not continue after suffering a shoulder injury. The fight was initially declared a TKO2 in Dawson's favor, although it was later ruled a no-contest. The boxing world was spared a terrible ruling, but the disappointment surrounding the fight had set in.
In a rematch that few boxing fans expected, Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), one of the most accomplished fighters of his generation, and Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), himself a former 175-pound titlist, will meet Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. With the light heavyweight title again on the line, both fighters have work ahead of them if they are to erase the impression left by their first fight.
ESPNdeportes.com caught up with Dawson during the final stages of his training camp to talk about Hopkins, the rematch and all that lies ahead.
How was your training for this fight?
Everything has worked really well with [trainer] John Scully. We've put in a solid seven weeks of training. ... Everything's been great, Scully has been great, and everything came together perfectly.
Did you discuss the first Hopkins fight with your camp? What changes will you make this time around?
We have the same game plan that we used in the last fight. Nothing has changed. I am still bigger, faster, stronger. I am going to come in there and use my size and just let my hands go. And then I will win the fight.
Did something happen before or during the previous fight that made you lose control?
I never lost control of myself during that fight. I came to fight, Bernard didn't come to fight. Period. That's what happened.
Are you concerned that the ending of the fight cost you fans?
I am not worried about that. My whole concern is going in and beating Bernard Hopkins. That's it. I am not worried about the fans or who is going to show up. I just want to beat Bernard Hopkins. I don't have to worry about who shows up or who doesn't show up.
Most people didn't expect this rematch to happen. Did you? Or were you looking forward to different challenges?
I don't know. Bernard Hopkins put on a stupid move and he faked an injury and didn't want to fight me. I had been trying to fight Bernard for the past three years, and that night he showed up just to show that he was scared of me.
Are you approaching this fight differently in any way? Is there anything you will change or adjust?
No, we don't have to change much. The first fight just went two rounds, and I didn't take any punishment. We got to get back in the training camp right away, and I will be in even better shape for this fight.
Are you expecting Hopkins to be angry, in control or anticipating another mistake that could get you disqualified?
I don't have to expect anything new from Bernard Hopkins. All I have to care about is what I am going out there to do. And I am going out there to beat Bernard Hopkins. I don't care if it is by decision, by knockout or what. Whatever he brings to the table is not going to be enough.
You have reach and height advantages, and you're a southpaw. How do you weight those factors in this fight?
I think they will all be big. Like you said, I have a size advantage, and I don't believe Bernard will be able to deal with it. In my opinion, I think he will be looking for a way out of this fight once again.
The main criticism of you is that you appear uninspired and unmotivated. Do you feel that Hopkins' levels of motivation and intensity can be factors in this fight? Do you expect him to be more dangerous after the first fight?
The motivation is bigger for me because I am going out there to get my third world title. That is something that I want. I want that WBC title. I want it bad, and I also want that Ring [magazine] belt. That's all the motivation I need.
Do you consider this a make-or-break fight, one with a smaller margin for error and that could hurt your stock if another situation arises like that in the previous fight?
One thing about me is that I don't care about the critics. I don't care about stuff like that. I just go out there and perform to the best of my abilities. Every fighter can't always have a great night, you know. Sometimes I have bad nights, sometimes I don't. But I don't listen to stuff like that, I don't listen to any critics, and I don't care what people think about me.
Is the light heavyweight division your limit, or is there a chance we might see you fighting above this weight?
Right now, I am planning to be a light heavyweight for a few years. I can make the weight easy, I never had any weight problems. I believe I could make 168 if I tried, but I will probably be at 175 for a very long time.
Win or lose, what's the plan after this fight?
I never look past my opponent, so I never know what will happen after my fights. I got a job to do on [Saturday] and I am going to execute that job. And after that, we're going to talk about the future.
How do you imagine the fight playing out, ideally?
There's two ways: If Bernard comes to fight and we give the fans what they want, or not. If he comes to fight, Chad Dawson will fight. If he comes to run and try to land a few punches, it will be a boring fight, like everybody expected. But if he comes to fight, we'll give the fans what they want.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.