Chad Dawson is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But he needs a hook.
That's not to suggest the New Haven, CT, southpaw lacks punching power. The two-time light heavyweight champion has been more than adequate in that department, ending 17 of his 29 victories by knockout.
What has been absent in Dawson's unbeaten career is the kind of hook that translates into star power, something to spice up his regular-guy persona and make the fans take special notice.
"Chad is definitely one of the three best fighters in the world, right up there with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather," says Gary Shaw, Dawson's promoter.
"The difference is Chad hasn't gotten all the credit he deserves because he's basically a quiet family man."
Minus a flashy lifestyle, Dawson, 28, has used pure boxing skills to stay in the mix as a featured fighter. He'll be cast in the spotlight again Saturday, August 14 at the Bell Centre in Montreal when he faces WBC light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal of Laval, Canada (25-1, 16 KOs) on HBO's World Championship Boxing (10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT).
Known best for two victories each against former light heavyweight champions Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, Dawson will be trying to regain the belt he vacated in 2008 to fight Tarver the first time. He won the crown in February, 2007, getting up from a 10th-round knockdown to win a unanimous decision against Tomasz Adamek.
"I cannot wait until August 14," Dawson says. "Now it's time to reclaim my original crown and bring it home to the U.S."
Pascal, 27, is not an opponent to take lightly. The Haitian-born champion is noted for his power and has won all three of his fights since moving up from super middleweight in 2009. He won the crown with a unanimous decision against Adrian Diaconu, stopped Silvio Branco on a 10th-round TKO and decisioned Diaconu again in a rematch.
Dawson, considered the best in the division on par with graybeard, largely-idle Bernard Hopkins, represents a distinct step up in competition. Pascal is eager to prove he belongs in the same ring.
"On August 14, I have a date with destiny," Pascal says. "I have nothing but respect for Dawson. And even though I'm convinced that he will be at his best, I'll also be coming in at the absolute peak of my abilities. To be the best, you have to beat the best. I can't wait for that bell to ring and be declared the champion."
The opportunity to be seen by a worldwide television audience made it easy for Dawson to take the bout on Pascal's home turf.
"This is a very big fight for Chad, and there will be 15,000 fans in the arena, and 14,000 of them will be against us," Shaw says. "But that doesn't faze us one bit because I know we'll be coming home with a victory. We didn't have go to Canada, but the good thing is that the fight is on HBO. That's 30 million people watching. You can't do any better than having that many eyeballs on your fighter."
Given his solid achievements, Dawson should probably be a household name. But his workman-like approach inside the ring and his rather ordinary personality outside it hasn't exactly led to notoriety.
"Chad, fortunately in one respect, makes all his fights look easy," Shaw says. "But that also could be working against him. He hasn't got into wars because nobody will go to war with him. He made the fights against Tarver look easy. The first fight against Glen Johnson was the closest thing to a war. But he beat him easily in the second fight.
"To me, he showed how great he is in his fight against Adamek. That was no walk in the park. In fact, he got knocked down only because he was taking a walk in the park."
If Dawson specialized in knockouts or raised a little hell, no doubt his image would be different.
"Look at all the fighters with notoriety. They're either knockout artists or they're some type of character outside the ring," Shaw says. "Mayweather is a colorful character. He's 'Money' Mayweather. Pacquiao has a whole country riding on his shoulders. Even (Ricky) Hatton, he had that reputation that he likes to drink with the boys.
"Chad is basically a quiet family man. He doesn't travel with an entourage. He doesn't do anything to make waves. If you go to dinner with him, he'll be there with his family. You only see Chad when he fights, then you don't see him any more. I'm working on getting Chad to feel more comfortable with leaving home and coming to different fights, where the fans can see him and get to know him."
Then again, maybe what you see is what you get with Dawson.
"I don't know if Chad needs or wants the notoriety," Shaw says. "Maybe he'll just go down in history as a great undefeated fighter."
And maybe that's enough.
"I have nothing but respect for Dawson. And even though I'm convinced that he will be at his best, I'll also be coming in at the absolute peak of my abilities. To be the best, you have to beat the best. I can't wait for that bell to ring and be declared the champion."
Posted 12:00 AM | Aug 9, 2010
HBO WCB - August 14, 2010
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