COMMENTARY | In many ways, a fighter is only as good as his last performance. And if that's true, "Bad" Chad Dawson's run among the boxing elite is just about done.
Last September, Dawson was busted up, broken apart, and forced to retire in the tenth round against reigning super middleweight kingpin, Andre Ward.
Dawson was sent to the canvas three times in that loss and, by the time he pulled his own plug, he was truly a beaten man. A lot of excuses could be made-- and some might be valid. For example, Dawson was fighting seven pounds lighter, at 168, and reportedly had trouble making weight.
But, whatever the case, Dawson looked absolutely awful and has looked less-than-stellar in his last several appearances. Could this be the end of the line for the 30-year-old boxing stylist?
Dawson, himself, seems to be struggling for the answer to what may be a career-killing question. The still-reigning WBC light heavyweight champ recently separated himself from trainer, John Scully (for the second time) to return to former trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
For the record, this will be Dawson's tenth change in trainers in eleven years as a pro.
Alarmingly, though, Dawson seems a little too eager to point fingers rather than regroup and do some internal renovation work.
"I was too far ahead in the game for him (John Scully) to even try to come in and teach me anything," Dawson said. "I was too far ahead of the game. I had worked with trainers like Eddie already, Emanuel Steward, Mayweather Sr., and Dan Birmingham. I worked with top level trainers already. For Scully it just wasn't a good situation for him, me already being where I'm at, at the top of the game and having already fought some of the greatest fighters in the world. Not taking anything away from Scully, but coming back to Eddie is where I need to be, gonna make me who I really am."
Chad Dawson will go down as one of the most accomplished light heavyweights of this generation. The critics have crawled over one another to take shots at him for being "boring" and "unmotivated" in the ring, but few can argue with the weight of his resume. Victories over Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, and Tomasz Adamek place "Bad" Chad among the very best of this generation, even if his career highlight reel is light on devastating knockouts and heavy with cautious competence.
Now, though, these next couple of fights could be make or break for Dawson. His ten-round destruction by Ward had to be a confidence-sapper and, at 30 years of age, he has more career behind him than ahead of him. It's the wrong time for denial and passing the buck.
A rematch of his eleven-round technical decision loss to Jean Pascal in 2010 is tentatively scheduled for May and that should be Dawson's next real test. In their first bout, Dawson was extremely effective whenever he decided to press the action, hurting Pascal on several occasions. Unfortunately for Dawson, he waited until the very the end of the contest before he started to fight with any urgency. Still, he seemed close to scoring a knockout until a clash of heads produced a fight-stopping cut over his left eye and sent the bout to the cards in the eleventh round.
Come rematch time, Dawson will have another face in his corner, but the jury will be out on whether there will be a different Dawson in the ring. It's impossible to run away from oneself and it sure seems as though Dawson is lacking some much-needed introspection before reaffirming his spot as a true elite of the sport.
As his now-two-time former trainer, Scully recently said when asked about Dawson's decision to yet again change trainers:
"...You have to say to yourself, maybe it is me. Maybe I have something to do with the problem, maybe it is me."
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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