Saturday's showdown between Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal will likely answer the question of who is the world's best at 175, mostly due to attrition. The oddsmakers say Dawson, whom they've established as a better than 4-1 favorite.
WBA champ Beibut Shumenov is exciting but has fought only 11 times while WBO king Juergen Brahmer hasn't met the Best of the West. The IBF's Tavoris Cloud is young (28), powerful (18 KO in a 20-0 record) and prolific (83.2 punches per round against Julio Gonzalez and Clinton Woods) but is still trying to make his mark as a champion. That chance will come against Glen Johnson on August 7. (UPDATE)
That leaves Dawson and Pascal, who at 28 and 27 are at their peaks. What do their CompuBox numbers say and what will they reveal about the outcome? Factors include:
Dawson's Work Ethic: Dawson averaged a combined 63.2 punches per round in his last four fights against Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver, peaking at 79 for the first Johnson fight (the average 175-pounder throws 53.8). His right jab is especially active as he fired 40.8 and 42 per round in the two Johnson fights and averaged 32.6 in his last four (33 percent more than the 21.9 divisional norm). Because Dawson is a natural righty, those jabs pack power. Dawson must use that heavy stick to keep Pascal away.
Fixing flaws?: For all of his success mental lapses late in fights has dogged Dawson. "Bad Chad" dominated the first nine against Tomasz Adamek only to be dropped in the 10th with a right. Dawson reacted by coasting while Adamek went to work. In the 11th and 12th Adamek reached double-digit power connects for the only times in the fight and his 24-17 total connect edge in the 11th was his first lead since the first.
Dawson suffered similar troubles in his first fights against Johnson (89-55 deficits in total connects and 74-42 in power connects during rounds 10-12, including a right that rocked Dawson) and Tarver (56-36 and 50-27 shortfalls in total and power connects respectively in the last two rounds). In the Tarver rematch Dawson had numerical edges (39-33 overall and 29-23 in power shots) in the final two stanzas, but most observers still scored them for Tarver because he was doing better compared to previous rounds.
The Johnson rematch may have signaled a turnaround. After building a lead over the first eight (169-119 overall, 91-58 power), Dawson never let off the gas as he out-landed Johnson 77-56 (overall) and 51-41 (power) in rounds 9-12 while averaging 60 punches per round (a slight drop from 64.5 over the first eight). Dawson must remain focused and purposeful against Pascal, arguably the most gifted opponent he has yet met.
Pascal's Peaks and Valleys: While Dawson is a steady worker, Pascal - who models his style after Roy Jones - relies on lively legs, quick reflexes and spectacular bursts followed by long periods of recovery.
This style may have resulted from his only loss against Carl Froch. Pascal went toe to toe over the first six in building advantages of 117-115 (overall) and 94-66 (power) but exhausted himself in the process. The last six saw Froch out-land Pascal 156-82 (overall) and 96-61 (power) while upping his tempo to 73.5 punches per round (from 65.8) to Pascal's 45.5 (from 47.8)
Since then, Pascal has marshaled his energy. In three fights against Adrian Diaconu and Silvio Branco Pascal averaged 44.4 punches per round (18 percent below the divisional average) but has produced pyrotechnics. In the Diaconu rematch, Pascal unleashed a 23 of 46 (19 of 38 power) explosion in the first minute of round eight and a 23 of 36 (15 of 25 power) burst in the final minute of the 10th. Long recovery periods brought down his averages, but he will need a more consistent effort to beat Dawson.
Home Ring Advantage: Though a Haiti native Pascal is beloved in Montreal, where he has fought 21 of his 26 fights. His last three have taken place at the Bell Centre, the site of this fight, and the crowds there are among the loudest and most passionate in North America.
While Dawson has never fought in Canada he has plenty of experience on the road as nine of his 12 fights since August 2005 (and two of his seven major title bouts) took place outside his native Connecticut.
Prediction: Dawson's size, jab and combinations will make life difficult for Pascal, who must make wholesale changes to offset Dawson's advantages. Dawson will pile the points and win a commanding decision.
Posted 12:00 AM | Aug 11, 2010
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