Bernard Hopkins is one of my modern day favorites and a real joy to watch for anyone who actually enjoys the art of boxing, but let’s be real. At 46, B-Hop needs to be met half way if he’s going to beat any elite level fighter. Hopkins feasts on his opponents’ mistakes and adapts a strategy around those errors. Against Chad Dawson, Hopkins is meeting a laid-back, technically-sound fighter whose only real flaw is his lack of aggression. So, in this fight, Hopkins will be up against a younger, quicker, taller Dawson and it’ll be his job to initiate the action as well as outwork his opponent. As we have seen as recently as his second bout with Roy Jones, a Hopkins against an opponent who doesn’t initiate a charge and is unwilling to over-invest in offense is a very dreary and tentative Hopkins. And as we have seen as far back as the Jermain Taylor bouts, a past-prime Hopkins struggles against an athletic, quick-fisted fighter. So, expect a close encounter throughout, with neither fighter active enough to take a dominant lead, but with Dawson winning most close exchanges. I see this one as Dawson’s to lose– Maybe 116-112 or even 117-111 in “Bad” Chad’s favor.
Chad Dawson is all kinds of wrong for Bernard Hopkins. He’s tall. He’s technically sound. He’s fast. He considerably younger. He may very well be the most talented fighter in the light heavyweight division. For Hopkins, who long reigned at middleweight, defeating a naturally bigger man with these types of attributes is as formidable a task as any. In other words, Hopkins has Dawson right where he wants him. Look, I’m no fool. Hopkins has won too many big fights against long odds for me to ever pick against him again. I like Hopkins by close but clear decision.
Plenty of gamblers have been burned by betting against a winner saying “he’s gotta lose sometime”. I’m a gamblin’ man myself, and I don’t plan on getting burned. I predicted Hopkins would beat Jean Pascal in his last fight with his superior conditioning, skill, and technique, and I think Hopkins will take the unanimous decision from Chad Dawson for exactly the same reason. Dawson hasn’t shown an ability to consistently stand up to twelve rounds against a determined opponent; he takes rounds off, showed very questionable heart when he was cut in his own fight with Pascal, and I don’t think he has the tools to handle a guy like Bernard Hopkins, even as B-Hop approaches his 47th birthday. The scores should be close but not too close; 116-112 for Hopkins sounds about right.
Bernard Hopkins has made a living in recent years out thinking younger, more physically able opponents. There is no reason to assume this wont continue Saturday night. Dawson has all the tools except the one he really needs, mental toughness and focus. Look for Bernard to force his fight on “Bad” Chad and win a close decision.
Dawson will win the early rounds staying behind the jab and boxing efficiently. By the fourth round Hopkins will have found a response to Dawson that will allow him to get inside landing his straight right while roughing up the challenger. Dawson will try and take back the momentum in the middle rounds but Hopkins experience, ring IQ, and mental toughness will allow him to keep a slight edge not allowing Dawson to take control. The technical fight will explode in the championship rounds as both men realize the fight is up for grabs and both men are frustrated with their opponent’s tactics. Rounds 11 and 12 will have good back and forth action with each man having his moment. In the end Hopkins will be awarded a very close majority or split decision victory.
Both Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins want a slow-paced fight. Dawson uses his height and length to score points from the outside, despite public outcry to open up offensively. The 46-year old Hopkins makes his opponents come to him, turning their aggression against them with angles, lateral movement, and arguably one of the best lead right hands in the sport. I don’t see Dawson opening up and playing the aggressor, so Hopkins will have to bring the fight to the younger Chad Dawson in order to have any success. Baiting Dawson into moving to his left so he can land his right hand and move in close and disrupt Dawson’s rhythm gives Hopkins his best shot at victory, as I see it. If Hopkins can’t get inside of Dawson’s longer reach and disrupt the jab that will probably be thrown in excess of 30 times per round, he will be in for a long night. Hopkins UD12 over Dawson.
(The Boxing Tribune will be back to report on all the action shortly after Saturday’s pay-per-view telecast)
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