Chad Dawson: ‘Hopkins, Tarver Are Ducking Me’

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 2, 2007

NEW YORK — Chad Dawson is an undefeated WBC light heavyweight champion. The young 24 year-old southpaw from Hartsville, S.C. has called out Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver, but neither fighter has responded.

“I don’t know if they’re afraid of me or what,” Dawson told BASN during an exclusive interview.

He plans to show the boxing world why Hopkins, Tarver, and the rest of the light heavyweight division are ducking him when he makes the first defense of the WBC 175-pound title.

Dawson (23-0, 15 KOs), now living in New Haven, Ct., will be close to home when he battles Jesus Ruiz (19-4, 17 KOs) in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on Saturday, June 9 beginning at 10 PM/PT.

In the co-feature, Tarver (24-4, 18 KOs) will face Elvir Muriqi (34-3, 21 KOs ) in a 12-round light heavyweight bout. It will be Tarver’s first fight since losing a 12-round unanimous decision to Hopkins in June 2006.

If the best only fight the best then why not Hopkins and Tarver, who fought each other, fight Dawson? “Hopkins and Tarver say they’re the best. They don’t want to step up and fight young guys like myself,” Dawson told BASN during an exclusive interview. “Hopkins and Tarver are ducking me.”

It’s not always about fighting the best opponents in your weight division. It’s also about pursuing marquee fights outside of your weight class. That’s why Hopkins will return on July 21 against former junior middleweight champion Winky Wright at a catch-weight bout at 170 pounds.

“It bothers me a bit,” Dawson added. “Hopkins came up to light heavyweight division and beat Antonio Tarver. Bernard and Winky [Wright] are getting ready to fight. I don’t consider [Wright] a light heavy. You have a light heavyweight versus a middleweight.”

“Maybe one of those guys will give me a shot,” Dawson added. “Who wants to see B-Hop and Winky fight? Hopkins should be fighting me. He don’t want to go out and fight a young guy like me. You have two defensive fighters, but Wright will be in for a long night. Winky doesn’t have the strength and Hopkins will be too strong.”

If neither Hopkins or Tarver step-up to face Dawson, who is a world champion, then Dawson is prepared to drop down to the super middleweight limit of 168 to pursue fights against unbeaten WBO 168-pound champion Joe Calzaghe or undefeated unified WBC/WBA champion Mikkel Kessler.

“I walk around at 172,” Dawson added. “I leave the gym at 170 everyday. It’s no problem for me to vacate the title and move down.”

Dawson is very frustrated because the pendulum hasn’t gone his way since winning the WBC crown from previously unbeaten Tomasz Ademek in February. His southpaw style was huge advantage during an exciting fight in which both fighters hit the canvas.

Adamek was hit with too many right jabs and lead shots. Dawson dominated Adamek through twelve rounds to win a unanimous decision (118-108, 117-109, and 116-110).

Dawson believes that a young, unbeaten fighter who handed Adamek, a formidable champion, his first professional loss become a world champion would be highly sought after.

Fighters with the level of experience and recognition like Hopkins, Tarver, and Roy Jones, Jr. should be aiming for Dawson’s light heavyweight championship which is clearly not the case.

“I’ve been in boxing for five years as a pro,” Dawson said. “It’s a waiting game and I feel like I’m going backwards. I beat a guy 31-0 to be champion and now I’m fighting a guy 19-4? I’m fighting a guy who is not in the top 20.”

Ruiz, 33 Guadalajara , Mexico, has fought light heavyweight contenders Paul Briggs (L 12), Montell Griffin (L 10) and Julio Cesar Gonzalez (TKO by 9). Although he has four losses against 19 victories, 89% of his wins have occurred by knockout. He shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“[Ruiz] is coming to fight to try to take my title,” Dawson added. “These are the guys you have to watch. I have to battle this guy on June 9 to retain my title.”

Dawson vs. Jones: A Possibility

Perhaps another marquee light heavyweight fight that can be made is Dawson vs. Roy Jones, Jr. Jones was clearly the world light heavyweight champion from 1996-2003. Jones unified the WBC, WBA, IBF, and few regional championships.

Jones defeated many of the 175-pound division’s best before becoming the first middleweight in 100 years to win a heavyweight title in March 2003. Jones lifted the WBA title from John Ruiz.

“Roy was champion for a long time,” Dawson said. “But his opponents were handpicked.”

After returning to the light heavyweight division in November 2004 to beat Tarver, Jones suffered consecutive knockout losses Tarver (KO by 2) in a rematch and Glen Johnson (KO by 9) before losing to Tarver (L 12) in a rubber match.

Jones, who hasn’t fought since beating Prince Badi Amaju in July 2006, returns to pay-per-view on June 14 to face unbeaten Anthony Hanshaw in Biloxi , MI . If Jones wins, the opportunity to challenge a younger, less experienced Dawson for a world championship could entice Jones as much as Dawson .

Dawson’s Patience Tested

Dawson is promoted by Gary Shaw. Shaw has an extensive creditable background. Shaw, who played a part in staging Lennox Lewis‘ career-defining victory against Mike Tyson in 2002, has advised Dawson to be patient.

“Any promoter will promise you the world,” Dawson said. “If you can’t get the fights that you want, what can you do? [Shaw] did promise me a title shot and that I’ll be a world champion.”

“The bigger paydays and TV dates haven’t played out as well. He keeps telling me to be patient. I turned pro when I was 18 and I’m about to be 25. I want things to change.”