Chad Dawson Seeks Redemption at the Scene of His Fall

by Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Ed Mulholland

It was once so different for Chad Dawson.

Two and a half years ago, he was poised to fight Antonio Tarver for the IBF light heavyweight championship; as he sat in his locker room that evening, his phone rang. It was Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Mayweather, who knows about such things, said that night that Dawson was the best fighter, pound-for-pound, on the planet , and after Dawson dominated and outpointed Tarver, there was no shortage of observers who felt that, if Dawson wasn't quite there yet, he was certainly on his way.

After all, Dawson had already won, and made several defenses of, the WBC belt, a series of victories that included wins over Tomasz Adamek and Glen Johnson, and he had done so with a slick effortlessness that suggested there were still higher levels yet to be reached.

But over his next couple of bouts, doubts began to creep in, suggestions that maybe what had appeared consummate ease in fact owed more to a lack of passion. It was a suspicion that appeared to be borne out last August, when Dawson meekly surrendered his crown to Jean Pascal at Montreal's Bell Center.

On Saturday, he returns to the scene of that loss; but whereas his conqueror earns a second shot at future Hall-of-Famer Bernard Hopkins, Dawson must content himself with a spot on the undercard, against another hometown fighter, Adrian Diaconu. In his corner this time, for the first time, will be Emanuel Steward, who has been extolling his fighter's attributes while encouraging him to make subtle changes in his style that will enable him to be more effective.

Diaconu - who, like Dawson, has lost only to Pascal - has in many ways been preparing for this bout for four years, after being forced to pull out when they were scheduled to meet in 2007. He has every intention, says his trainer Pierre Bouchard, of stealing the show on Saturday night - from Pascal, from Hopkins, and most of all from Dawson.

But Dawson is equally determined to use Diaconu as a springboard back to the top: "It's a very important night for me," Dawson said. "The fact that I'm back in Montreal and Pascal and Hopkins are fighting on the same card. I want to win. I want to win impressively. And I want to strike some fear into the hearts of those two guys. "When the night's over, it'll be clear I'm the best fighter at 175 pounds. "I didn't perform well [in August]. I had one bad night and suddenly everyone turned on me. But by the time I get out of the ring Saturday, they'll all be back on the bandwagon."

Keiran Mulvaney On Bernard Hopkins, George Foreman

When George Foreman challenged Michael Moorer for the heavyweight championship of the world in Las Vegas in  November1994, I airily boycotted what I anticipated would be the shameful spectacle of an old man being beaten up for public pleasure.

On Saturday, when Bernard Hopkins attempts to one-up Foreman’s shocking knockout win and replace Big George as the oldest man to win a major belt, I will be ringside.

There are justifications for these contrasting stances.

For one thing, in 1994, I was a boxing fan; now, I am a boxing writer.

For another, 46 doesn’t seem as old to me now as it did when I was 26.


Bernard Hopkins: The Old Man, The New Daddy

by Eric Raskin

Bernard Hopkins is a two-division champion of the world who won his middleweight and light heavyweight titles 11 years apart. And those aren’t the only notable achievements on Hopkins’ dossier that are separated by 11 years. His daughter Latrice was born 11 years ago; in June, she’ll finally become a big sister.

That’s right, at 46 years of age and more than a decade after he first experienced fatherhood, Hopkins is about to do it all again. He and his wife Jeanette are just a few weeks away from re-entering a world of middle-of-the-night feedings, witching hours, burp cloths, and dirty diapers.

“I wish camp could be for the next six years,” Hopkins says with a toothy grin.

The intimidating “Executioner” side of Hopkins vanishes when the conversation turns to his family. He becomes just an ordinary guy preparing for a new baby and everything that comes with it. “I had an 11-year gap. I’m like, ‘Am I ready for this?’” he admits. A smile washes over him. “It’s cool, man.” He pauses, shakes his head. “It’s strange.”

It’s a rare moment: Hopkins at a loss for words. The blogger fills the silence by noting that a lot of fighters his age are becoming grandfathers, not fathers.

“You’re making me feel old, man!” he exclaims.

There’s your exclusive: Hopkins admits to feeling old. (And we suspect he’ll admit to it a few more times over the coming years as he experiences fatherhood all over again.)

Bernard Hopkins Looking To Break George Foreman's 1994 Record

On May 21st, Bernard Hopkins won't just be fighting Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight title and a satisfactory resolution of the controversial draw decision in their last fight. He'll also be fighting to break the legendary George Foreman's record as the sports oldest fighter to win a significant world title.

"Bernard has to realize, as I did when I fought Michael Moorer, you must get a knockout."

Hopkins, 46 and dangerous as ever, would break the record Foreman set in 1994 when he shocked the world and defeated heavyweight champion Michael Moorer at the age of 45. Foreman, for his part, wouldn't be too upset, so long as it's a fighter of Hopkins' caliber breaking his record. "He’s probably the only one who could break such a record," Foreman says of Hopkins. "Not only does he possess this big punch to get a knockout, but he’s also a good boxer and at times, a counter-puncher.  He can pull it off, no doubt about it." But it's not going to be easy for him. Foreman continues, "Bernard has to realize, as I did when I fought Michael Moorer, you must get a knockout.  This fight and the record will not be broken on a unanimous decision. There must be a knockout."

Predictions: Andre Berto On Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz

by Peter Owen Nelson

At 9:06 p.m., a little over 48 hours from Andre Berto’s showdown with Victor Ortiz Saturday night at the Foxwoods MGM, the two narrowly missed each other in the hotel elevators. The welterweight champion had just left the spa from his final workout, while the 3-1 underdog Ortiz returned to the casino from his own at a gym outside the hotel.  

For the 27-year-old Berto, the light late night workout consisted of 1.8 miles on the treadmill, three rounds of mitt work with trainer Tony Morgan, and extensive banter from a half-dozen onlooking members of his family. (A few dozen more are expected to arrive by fight night.) After the mitt work, Morgan, who has trained Berto since he was 10 years old, said, “Andre sees everything, and he’s going to see Ortiz’s one-two [jab-straight left hand] coming from a mile away. 

Just as Berto’s work concluded and the group headed to the elevators, Ortiz headed up to his room with his coaches to check his weight before Friday’s weigh-in. Getting off a phone call, the Kansas native looked down at his phone, which for the past two months has had one image on the wallpaper: Berto’s green WBC welterweight belt.

Across the Atlantic in Manchester, England, earlier in the day, trainer Freddie Roach predicted the outcome at the M.E.N. Arena Saturday of his charge Amir Khan (24-1) against unheralded European champion Paul McCloskey (22-0): “Amir will knock him out in one round — unless he decides to carry him for a round and then knock him out.” The oddsmakers have it not much different, with Khan a near 10-1 favorite.

Berto predicted himself Khan by knockout and Ortiz echoed the sentiment, saying, “I like Amir and I hope he wins.” (Ortiz and Khan had faced each other years ago in the amateurs, with Khan stopping the southpaw.) Roach added that he likes the underdog’s chances in the fight at Foxwoods, saying, “I’ve seen Victor spar at my gym several times, including against Manny Pacquiao. When he was trying to make 140, he never was as strong. I like the move up to welterweight for him.”

If Ortiz’s camp has been any indication, carrying his punch up to welterweight will be no problem for the 24 year old: in heavily padded 16 ounce Winning training gloves (twice the size of the 8 ounce gloves worn fight night), Ortiz went through six sparring partners, dropping two of them. “I told them that I’d pay them extra if they dropped me, so dropping them was only fair,” Ortiz said of the work in his hotel room while snacking on some cashews and watching an episode of Family Guy. 

Despite Berto being the champion and Ortiz having fought at the smaller weight, it was Ortiz who headhunted Berto for this fight, after surveying the junior-welterweight landscape and not seeing a title fight happening anytime in the next year. After Ortiz let his promoters know that he wanted the undefeated slick welterweight champion, he said, “Everyone was like, ‘What the hell is wrong with this kid?’ But I want Andre Berto. I’m going to knock him out.”

Saturday night, we will see if Ortiz can be the first to dethrone the welterweight champion or if he has simply jumped into too much weight against too much class too soon. After Ortiz nearly knocked out Marcos Maidana only to be knocked out himself in 2009 for an interim title, another near-miss for the former prospect of the year at the championship level could push his next title shot a few more years away. For Ortiz, the stakes could not be higher.

Boxers Giving Back

Photo: Teddy Blackburn

Before facing off against each other, Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz spoke to a group of high school students Wednesday in a special event at The Armory on the Hudson in New York City. The two fighters addressed the value of staying in shape and the importance of dealing with family challenges before taking questions from the gathering of neighborhood kids. Last night, Berto joined a group of forty children, coaches, and parents from Middletown, Connecticut’s Champions of Life boxing program. "There is never a wrong time to give back and show support for adolescents who need it, even during fight week," Berto says. "The kids I met today want to be world champions, and I look forward to giving a championship effort and hopefully providing them inspiration to attain their dreams."

"Action Heroes" Morales, Maidana, Guerrero, Kirkland, Malignaggi, Cotto On Their Greatest Heroes

Before this week's "Action Heroes" boxing event on HBO PPV, the fights' participants share their favorite superheroes:

Paulie Malignaggi, James Kirkland, Robert Guerrero, Erik Morales, Marcos Maidana, Michael Katsidis and Jose Miguel Cotto pose on April 5, 2011 during their arrivals at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in advance of their respective April 9, 2011 fights. Photo: Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos

Erik Morales:  "My favorite action hero is Spiderman.  I like Spiderman because he uses his brain to get out of tough situations."

Marcos Maidana:  "I like Argentinean national comic book hero Patoruzu.  He possessed super human physical strength and was also very generous."

Robert Guerrero:  "Jesus Christ is my super hero because he has faith, patience and determination."

Michael Katsidis: "Superman because I have super human strengths like he does."

James Kirkland: "I always liked Spiderman because he was always willing to take on any one who crossed his path regardless of their size."

Paulie Malignaggi: "My favorite action hero as a kid was the Incredible Hulk.  As an athlete, I think I make a similar transformation from my everyday life then move into fight week where the "Hulk" in me comes out.  Now, my favorite action hero is definitely myself, 'Magic Man,' who was sent here to save the world of boxing and rid it of all its evil forces and unworthy opponents."

Jose Miguel Cotto: "Growing up, my favorite action hero was Tarzan, King of the Jungle because he is raw and powerful."

Bert Sugar on Paulie Malignaggi vs. José Miguel Cotto

Former IBF light welter champ Paulie Malignaggi (28-4), aka the “Magic Man,” is looking for redemption the night of April 9th against the family Cotto, taking on the brother of the fighter who handed him his first loss, Miguel Cotto. Malignaggi looks to do that voodoo he does so well against Miguel’s brother, José Miguel Cotto (32-2-1, 24 KO’s), to prove to naysayers that he can climb the welterweight mountain to win his second championship.