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Chad Dawson feels he is the odd man out in the light heavyweight division. Heck you might as well say he is a young man stuck in a retirement home.
Today’s light heavyweight division has become boxing’s senior citizen class. According to Ring magazine, of the 12 fighters ranked at 175 pounds, five are 39 years or older, while only three are below the age of 30.
Notables such as Bernard Hopkins, the divisions generally recognized champion is 43. Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson are all 39. Clinton Woods is 35, Paul Briggs is 32 and 37 year old Chris Bryd announced last week that he is dropping from heavyweight to light heavyweight.
Dawson, 25, the WBC light heavyweight champion, right now stands as the one-man youth movement deemed by many to be the future of the division. Despite his obvious talents and pedigree, Dawson has a glaring dilemma that apparently no one wants to partake in.
In Dawson you get a highly skilled and dangerous fighter who isn’t a marquee name to the general public. You get a fighter who Hopkins, Jones, and Tarver have seemingly avoided. You get as fighter who is in a division that is considered unappealing when compared to the glamorous heavyweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions.
Luckily for Dawson, 25-0 (17 KOs) he gets a title defense against acclaimed Glen Johnson 47-11-2 (32 KOs), this Saturday in Tampa. Johnson is a former world champion and fighter of the year; furthermore, he holds the honor of being one of only two men to knockout former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr.
An emphatic win over Johnson can create the opening for Dawson to free himself out the dreaded dungeon and into the limelight of prestigious fights. Also and more importantly it would serve notice to Hopkins, Tarver, and Jones, whom seem content to hold on to whatever glory they have left.
But first Dawson has to get past Johnson and judging from his recent fights it is not a guarantee that Dawson will win.
Dawson’s past two fights were more like tune-up fights than title defenses. Unable to get fights with prime-time opponents such as Adrian Diaconu, he ended up scoring impressive stoppage wins over not-so impressive opponents Epifanio Mendoza and Jesus Ruiz.
However, Dawson has shown heart and grit particularly when the pressure is on. It was not too long ago, February 2007, when he survived a 10 th round knockdown and scare to Tomasz Adamek. Dawson spent the rest of the round recovering before regaining control in the championship rounds to preserve and add to his early lead en route to a wide unanimous decision and a portion of the light heavyweight crown.
Against Johnson all signs point to a Dawson win. On paper, Dawson holds a laundry list of advantages. He is the taller, younger, and physically more talented prizefighter. Nevertheless, there is more to just physical assets.
We must realize that the strengths that Johnson possesses such as his punching power and experience are resources that earned him the IBF championship a few years back, and that are weaknesses in Dawson's game that can be exploited. While Dawson's advantages with the jab, hand speed, and defense should be enough to earn him most of the twelve rounds, he is only one good Johnson punch away from losing the WBC strap.
This Saturday night will be the 12th time that Glen Johnson has faced off against a current or former world champion (Hopkins, Ottke, Branco, Gonzalez, Griffin, Woods x 3, Tarver x 2, Roy Jones). Although he has seen his ups and downs versus this level of competition, he has always proven to be a tough challenge to all. On the other hand, this will only be the 2nd time that Chad Dawson has been in against a world-class opponent, the first being when he won the title against Adamek
Many believe that ‘age ain’t nothing but a number’ but this Saturday it is highly probable that age will be the defining factor in Dawson’s greatest challenge to date.