Monday, September 12, 2011
Chad Dawson switches trainers
By Dan Rafael
With a month to go before he challenges light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, former titlist Chad Dawson announced Monday night that he has replaced Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward with John Scully, who trained Dawson earlier in his career.
The split with Steward came down to geography. Dawson preferred to train in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, which is driving distance from his home in Connecticut, rather than relocate for the training camp to Detroit, where Steward is based and training multiple fighters.
Dawson never began camp with Steward, whom he had only worked with for one fight, his May decision win against Adrian Diaconu in Montreal on the undercard of Hopkins' history-making victory against Jean Pascal to become, at 46, the oldest fighter in history to win a world title.
Dawson, the mandatory challenger, will face Hopkins at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 15 (HBO PPV).
Steward said he was surprised by the switch.
"About a month ago I was talking to Herman Woodard (Dawson's lawyer) and he told me Chad's wife just had a baby and that he wanted to train close to home because of the new baby," Steward told ESPN.com. "I said I was not for that. And then I didn't hear anything from anyone. I called Chad twice to see when he was coming to camp and he never returned the calls. Then I talked to (Dawson promoter) Gary Shaw about 10 days ago and he said Chad told him he wanted to train on the East Coast. But Chad never talked to me. I can't leave my training camp in Detroit. I have (middleweight) Andy Lee getting ready for a big fight, I am training Ronald Hearns again. I can't pack everyone up. In boxing, unless you are a big name, like a Wladimir Klitschko (whom Steward trains), the fighter comes to where the trainer is at. That's always the way it has been.
"Even guys like Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, both stars -- they train with Freddie Roach and they go to his gym. Chad is not on that level. I cannot just uproot everybody and start trying to find places for everyone to stay. I was under the impression Chad was coming to Detroit. I had a place all ready for him. Then Herman called me a few days ago and said, 'I cannot believe this, but he wants to stay home.' Every day I wanted to know where he was. He should have been in camp with me a month ago."
Now he is back with Scully, one of the many trainers the 29-year-old Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) has gone though. That list also includes Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Dan Birmingham and Steward. Assisting Scully, who has been in camp with Dawson for a couple of weeks despite the formal announcement not coming until Monday night, is former undisputed junior middleweight champion Winky Wright.
"It wasn't an ugly separation by any means. I have a world of respect for Emanuel and I know he's top-notch, but we couldn't get them to travel to one another, so there was no other choice but to move on," Shaw said.
"Chad's training camp is in Pennsylvania. He didn't want to train in Detroit again for this fight. But with all of his commitments and responsibilities, it wasn't feasible for Emanuel to stay in the Poconos that long. So they've parted ways amicably and John Scully is back in, with Winky Wright providing his expert eye."
Said Dawson, "Everything is going great. I couldn't ask for anything better. I'm in a great position right now. Not only to fight with Bernard, but to work with John Scully, who is very underrated as a trainer, and Winky, who I think beat Hopkins when they fought and is still a great fighter to this day. I'm very excited. I have great sparring partners and it's going great.
"Scully knows how to go to get me in shape. With him in my corner, you will see a return of the Chad Dawson from 2007-2008 in this fight. I am the best light heavyweight in the world and I'm going to prove it."
Scully said he was very surprised and happy to be asked to return to training Dawson.
"I've always said that training him was one of the most positive experiences of my career and I always felt we had a very good working relationship," Scully said. "He's looking perfect in camp so far. He's a champion at heart and knows what needs to be done to get ready for a fight like this and he's doing it."
Wright, who is friends with Dawson, said he is just there to provide some tips and see if he can pick up anything. He said he has no plans to go into active training.
"No way," said Wright, who will not work in Dawson's corner on the night of the fight. "I'm still a fighter. I don't feel like being a trainer. I don't know how to tell somebody to train. I can tell you what you're doing wrong and stuff like that, but as far as telling them when to get up and run, I'm not really into that. I'm here to just fine-tune little things that John and I feel he needs to work on. John is the coach and we are working together very well."
Wright, who lost a clear unanimous decision to Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) in 2007, said he likes Dawson's chances in the fight, even if he is an underdog to Hopkins.
"Bernard is sneaky and crafty, but I think that Chad has a style that can beat him. He's tall and quick, with a good defense and hand speed," Wright said. "He can move, but he's not scared to get in there and fight. Bernard wants to try and take you out of your fight. Chad doesn't need to do that. He needs to do what we're showing him and make Hopkins fight our fight. We can win this."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.