Friday, January 9, 2009

The Future Pound For Pound King

by Mark Lyons

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

I grew up in a day and age when a young fighter going tooth and nail with a veteran contender was applauded. It didn't matter if you won or lost. You were admired for your heart and effort. It showed that you belonged. Those days seem long gone.

Such situations are now followed by cries of "exposed", "chinny", "overrated" and worse. Paul Williams has no defense, Antonio Margarito is too slow, Chad Dawson is can't take a shot. What those three men have in common that trumps any perceived flaw, is more heart than most critics can even comprehend.

A recent example was when Chad Dawson waged a punishing and revealing war with rock-hard and relentless one-time champ, Glen Johnson. I don't know what people were expecting. Mr. Johnson demands you bring your lunch pail every night, and "Bad" Chad packed one for a week. After twelve give and take rounds where the young champion displayed his vast skills and immense heart, the decision went his way. People get caught up in Cinderella stories like the Road Warrior's, and I don't blame them. It was a very close fight, but the only robbery that occurred was Chad Dawson not receiving his due credit for showing his championship mettle and gutting out a win over a top quality light heavyweight contender.

It wasn't the first time. The night before the Super Bowl, in 2007, he masterfully boxed circles around the cinder block that is Tomasz Adamek. In a fight were he was the underdog and most were calling for his chin to be exposed, he proved to be completely superior to the now cruiserweight champion. He showed his tremendous heart, once again by climbing off the canvas after absorbing a bone-crushing straight right in the 10th round of the fight. He got up, brushed himself off and dominated the last two rounds like a champion. It wont be the first time Chad makes someone look ordinary only for the world to find out that they are far from it.

You would think that unanimous accolades would have come his way somewhere during those fights, or even after he toyed with former king of the light heavyweights, Antonio Tarver, for 12 rounds, but that hasn't been the case as some fans seem to be on a silly quest for the perfect fighter. One with a built-in fanbase and no weaknesses. So focused on pointing out the flaws in everyone who laces them up that they sometimes miss what makes a fighter special.

Being quiet and humble doesn't seem to resonate with the new breed of fight fans either. They want a loudmouth party animal to love/hate or a wild man who generates gossip, good or bad, with antics outside the ropes. This fighter dedicates his time outside the ring to his wife and two children (his pride and joy), while climbing up the ladder to the mythical prize of being recognized as the best in the world. It's a prize that I believe will inevitably be his.

Tarver has decided to exercise his right to another beating. I can't say I am overly excited about the match-up, but I will always enjoy watching the man who I see as the light heavyweight champion apply his craft. That's right, Joe Calzaghe's resume at 175 doesn't have the depth that Dawson's does while Zsolt Erdei's lineal title and a quarter will get you a nickel. I don't need historians or Ring magazine to tell me who the man is, as I know Chad will prove he's the top dog once he gets guys like Bernard Hopkins and Calzaghe to sign a contract.

The good thing about the Tarver rematch is it will open Chad up to more viewers on HBO which should lead to bigger and better things. After that the sky is the limit. Calzaghe, Hopkins, Mikkel Kessler, or even a rematch with Johnson. They will all push Chad to his limit, and in my opinion they will all find that limit to be higher than any other fighter in the world. There isn't anything Dawson can't do in the ring. Dazzling hand speed, great body punching, solid power & more than enough fighting heart.

I've been a fan of this guy for a long time and it will be extremely gratifying to see this supremely talented family man get what he deserves. When his hall of fame career is over the Johnson fight wont be any different than Clay/Jones or Frazier/Bonavena. Yes, that is exactly the kind of company I think Chad will be in when all is said and done.

When the big names start stepping up to the plate and the champ sends them home with a loss, The words will get kinder and the fan base will grow. It's simply a matter of time, now. While Chad is quiet and humble. I'm more of a loudmouth party animal, so I will say a couple of years in advance with a beer and smoke in hand, I told you so.

-Mark Lyons

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz


kas1316 said...

Great article on Chad. It's good to see his fans say what he will not. Like you said, he does his talking in the Ring.

Anonymous said...

I agree and so good to see such a fine man, who loves his family more than anything else!
Hope he will be a champion for many yrs. to come! He is what the young mem and women should look up too!
Candy Edwards