Chad Dawson Returns To Defend WBC Lightheavyweight Title Against Late Sub Mendoza

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 24, 2007

NEW YORK — WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson is on the move once again. Unable to secure high profile fights against either Bernard Hopkins or Antonio Tarver, Dawson continues to make a name for himself as a world champion by defending his title against all comers.

Dawson (24-0, 16 KOs) is scheduled to make the second defense of the WBC 175-pound championship against late sub Epifanio Mendoza (28-4, 24 KOs). The bout will be televised live Saturday night from the ARCO Arena in Sacramento on Showtime Championship Boxing beginning at 10 pm ET.

Dawson was originally scheduled to face unbeaten No. 1 contender, Adrian Diaconu of Romania, but he reportedly injured his right had in training. There is word that Daconu couldn’t make the 175-pound weight limit weight and was forced to pull out of the world title fight.

“It’s a fight [Diaconu] knew he couldn’t win,” Dawson said during an exclusive interview with BASN. “I saw him a week and a half ago. He looked fine. I saw it in his eyes he really wasn’t ready for the fight. I had a feeling that he was going to pull out of the fight.”

During the stare down at a recent press conference, the 6-foot-3 Dawson towered over the 5-foot-9 Diaconu. The challenger may have been surprised or rather timid of the champion’s distinct size advantage.

“The top of his head was at my chin,” Dawson said. “I’m tall, wide, and muscular. My arm length and my jab is so long, people don’t know how tall I really am until they see me up-close.”

Dawson will have to switch gears to face a much taller (6-foot-1) opponent in Mendoza, 31, Columbia. “ He’s a very slow fighter looking for that one big punch. It should be an easy fight for me. I’m not worried about who they put in front of me,” Dawson said.

Dawson established himself as a light heavyweight to watch out for when he lifted the WBC title from Tomas Ademek in February.

Dawson dominated Adamek behind right-jabs and quick left hands. He moved around the ring and even scored a knockdown against Ademek in the seventh round. Although he was dropped by a straight-right in the 10th, Dawson returned to his feet to dominate the judges scorecards: 118-108, 117-109, and 116-110.

Although Dawson had been active and fighting on national television, his path toward becoming a huge draw and a household name has had its shortcomings.

While trying to lure Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins into high profile fights, Dawson has had to share top billing with other fighters and compete with other fighters in different weight classes for ratings and draw power.

On the night of Miguel Cotto’s WBA welterweight fight with Zab Judah on HBO Pay-Per-View at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 9, Dawson, a native of New Haven, Ct., shared a Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader with Tarver at the Connecticut Convention Center just 110 miles away in nearby Hartford.

Fighting as the co-featured attraction in his own hometown, Dawson stole the show away from Tarver with a radiant execution of Jesus Ruiz. Dawson’s combination punching was stronger against Ruiz than when he fought Adamek.

“That’s one of the things that making me a better as a champion, Dawson said. “I’m good, but I want to keep winning. I want to win a title as a super middleweight. I want to get better. I’m at my utmost confidence when I’m in the ring. I just go in and do my job.”

Dawson’s right-jab also became more of a lethal whipping rod. Dawson’s sharp punching was too overwhelming for Ruiz, as the bout was stopped in the sixth round.

Tarver went twelve rounds with Elvir Muriqi (W12) in the main event. Dawson was supposed to have fought Tarver, who pulled out of the fight for an unknown reason.

“You have to ask his camp,” Dawson said referring to his cancelled fight with Tarver. “My contract was signed. About a week later, Tarver said he didn’t want the fight. Tarver has the bigger name and I want to get a big name off him. I’m younger and a stronger guy. Maybe he don’t want to fight.”

Dawson’s televised bout against — on Showtime will go head-to-head with HBO’s WBO/WBC middleweight championship fight between Jermain Taylor vs. Kelly Pavlik.

But at least there will be some breathing room between both events. Dawson’s bout with Mendoza will be one the other side of the country, as Taylor-Pavlik will occur at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

“That’s how it is,” Dawson said. “In a sense it’s good for boxing. Everyone has been waiting for that fight to happen.”

As far as Dawson’s career is concerned, he truly believes that he is the best light heavyweight in the world and he’s willing to prove it against Tarver, Hopkins, and even Roy Jones, Jr.

“I feel that in time I will get the big fights,” Dawson said. “Even with Tarver, when Joe gave him his shot he became a super fighter. They don’t want to see a young guy take over. I’m just going to sit back, be patient, and the fights will come.”

Dawson added: “If I can’t get the big fights, I still got to make money and still get to prove to the world that I am the best light heavyweight in the world.”