Chad Dawson calls loss to Andre Ward an “HBO set-up,” but Dawson sought the fight

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

Chad Dawson is one of the most enigmatic fighters in boxing. He's a brilliant talent, but has never really hit it big because he often shoots himself in the foot.

Only days prior to a defense of his WBC light heavyweight title against Adonis Stevenson in Montreal, Dawson made a rather bizarre comment on BoxingScene Radio in which he said his loss to Andre Ward in September was some sort of conspiracy led by HBO.

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Dawson dropped to 168 to meet Ward in a heavily hyped champion-versus-champion bout at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Ward unexpectedly dominated and stopped Dawson in the 10th round of a one-sided fight.

But during an appearance with BoxingScene Radio earlier this week, Dawson said he'd been set up by HBO.

My honest opinion is it was definitely a set up by HBO and other people, too. It was set up for me to come in at 168. I would be vulnerable and they could expose it and he would look good at the same time. That's just my opinion on the whole situation. We could've done it at a catch weight where we both would've been comfortable but they wanted it at 168.

That, though, flies against reality. Dawson's trainer at the time, John Scully, said it was Dawson himself who brought up the idea of fighting Ward at 168 pounds. After Dawson's rematch victory over Bernard Hopkins on April 28, 2012, Dawson asked for the fight with Ward during an interview with HBO's Max Kellerman.

Scully conceded that Dawson had great trouble cutting the weight for the Ward fight, but said Dawson brought it up first.

"I didn't know they were talking about a fight with Ward, because I don't get involved in the business end of it with any fighters," Scully told Yahoo! Sports. "But after we beat Hopkins, I was standing next to him in the ring when he was interviewed by Kellerman and he said he wanted to fight Ward at 168. I was like, 'OK. That's interesting.' But he said it and it was the first time I'd heard it."

At the 5:14 mark of the video below of the Dawson-Hopkins post-fight news conference, Dawson is asked if he'd go to 168 to fight Ward.

Right now, you know, I'd fight anybody, 168, 175. You know? I'm not saying I prefer to come out of my comfort zone, which is 175, but I could make 168. I come into camp at about 178 pounds. I know I look bigger than what everybody thinks, but I could make 168, or I could stick around at 175.

As Scully said, he brought the topic up with Kellerman on HBO in the ring after the fight. The following is a transcript of the final part of his in-ring interview.

KELLERMAN: You are now once again the light heavyweight champion of the world. You've gotten rid of all the old fighters in the division but there's some new interesting young fighters here. Any interest you in particular?

DAWSON: I mean I would love a fight with Andre Ward. I mean I think that would make for a great fight.

KELLERMAN: Super middleweight champion.

DAWSON: Super middleweight champion. I could make 168 or we could do it at 175 —a catch weight— it don't matter to me. I wanna make my statement known. I want everybody to know who I am. I wanna go after the big dogs.

It's beyond foolish for Dawson to try to blame someone else for his problems with weight, when he repeatedly said publicly that he would have no issues making 168 pounds.

Scully keeps a diary, which he's using to write a book he plans to call, "The Iceman Diaries." He said that when he joined Dawson for training camp in Las Vegas on July 5, 2012, Dawson weighed 182 pounds.

"That was pretty good, because we only had to lose 14 pounds in nine weeks," Scully said. "It was 111 degrees that day, we had nine weeks and I remember saying to myself, 'Yeah, with this kind of unbelievably hot weather, and only 14 pounds in nine weeks, this thing [the weight cut] will be a breeze.' But then on Aug. 13, it was still just as hot and we were a month out and he weighed 184. He gained two pounds."

Scully said Dawson tortured himself on the day of the weigh-in to make the weight. And he said he didn't think Dawson was recovered by fight time the next day.

"I have tremendous respect for Andre Ward and I think he might be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world over Floyd [Mayweather] based on recent performances," Scully said. "He did what he had to do. But in Chad's defense, what we went through to make weight was torture. I remember saying we should just cancel the fight and fight someone else [at light heavyweight]. He spent nine weeks tearing his body down; you don't get that back in 24 hours.

"A lot of guys, a long time out for the fight, they don't think it's a problem. After he fought Hopkins, Chad knew it would be a long time before he would fight Ward, and losing the weight then didn't seem like a big deal. But it was."

This is one story Dawson would have been better off not telling. Or, if he chose to tell it, he should have blamed himself, because he's the one who talked about going down to 168 in the first place.

It's easy to believe that his performance was negatively impacted by the struggle to make the weight. It's not easy to believe, though, that it was someone else's fault.

Dawson isn't particularly popular and one of the reasons is that he often looks to blame everyone but himself.

Give the guy credit for trying to make the big fight with Ward. He miscalculated the difficulty of making the weight. No one would crucify him for that.

But he ought to look in the mirror when he starts to point fingers.

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