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Dawson will sink or swim on own merits

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Chad Dawson has left one Mayweather and hopes to succeed another.

The WBC light heavyweight champion, who defends his belt on Saturday against Epifanio Mendoza at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif., in a bout televised as part of Showtime's free preview weekend, recently dropped Floyd Mayweather Sr. as his trainer.

Dawson and Mayweather Sr. had worked together for two fights, his title-winning effort against Tomasz Adamek and his first defense against Jesus Ruiz.

But Dawson tired of Mayweather and said the two didn't get along. He canned the loquacious Mayweather in favor of ex-light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

Dawson's father, Rick, suggested Muhammad when the Mayweather split came.

"My Dad remembered him when he was a fighter and he told me, 'Eddie was a bad dude,' " Dawson said. "I had worked a little with him before and I knew he knows what it takes to be great."

Dawson, 25, is one of the game's great young talents. He combines speed and power like few big men and is so gifted that Muhammad believes he may one day be recognized as the best boxer in the world.

That position is currently held by Mayweather's son, unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. It's quite a step for a guy who was toiling in anonymity little more than a year ago, but Muhammad said it's no reach. Dawson (24-0, 16 KOs), he said, is that good.

"I predict that a year from now, Chad Dawson is going to be the best fighter in the world," Muhammad said. "It's scary how good he can be. He punches so hard and he has so many tools. There aren't many things in there he can't do."

One of the things Dawson had difficulty doing, he says, is putting up with Mayweather Sr. He said the two had difficulty getting along from the start of their relationship. He said when Mayweather went away for a week to work another fighter's corner, Mayweather had asked Muhammad to train Dawson. Dawson said there was an immediate difference.

"Me and Floyd just didn't get along at all," Dawson said. "He was taking credit for stuff he didn't do. Eddie came in there and everything went smoothly and worked fine. Then Floyd came back and it was the same thing. I worked with him for the Adamek fight and I hung in there and tried it again (for the Ruiz) fight.

"We just didn't get along and I think it's important for a trainer and a fighter to get along. I just had to make the move."

Mayweather Sr. said there are two sides to the story. "I understand it takes two, but why do you think Chad looked so good in those two fights?" Mayweather Sr. said. "There is a reason, but it will be obvious on Saturday. Chad may lose that fight. He doesn't take a great shot. All (Mendoza) has to do is put the pressure on real good and he'll beat Chad."

Muhammad said he and Mayweather are close friends and said Mayweather is not upset with him for taking over.

Muhammad said one of the things he's worked on has been Dawson's balance. When Dawson is in balance, Muhammad said he punches so hard it's frightening.

But Dawson has a tendency to get excited and get out of balance and that limits his power. Muhammad said Dawson has picked up the nuances quickly.

"All great fighters have great balance," Muhammad said. "That's something that's important for Chad. He's really grasped the ideas I've given him so quickly. He'll be hitting the heavy bag and you can just hear it throughout the gym. He's hitting so hard when he's doing things correctly.

"If that bag could say anything, it would say something like, 'Tell that man to stop because he's hurting me.' His power is really good when he's in balance."

Mendoza was a late replacement for unbeaten Adrian Diaconu, who had to pull out of the fight earlier in the week with a hand injury.

Dawson said that Diaconu was a more polished boxer who presented more problems, but he's not concerned about the late switch.

He's more eager to show the world his talents.

"I really feel like as I begin to mix my defense with my offense, I can be the best fighter in the world," Dawson said. "And I really feel I made the right call. I think Eddie is the guy who can help get me to where I need to be."