Dawson revels in underdog role

While he sits at 30-1 and was called by Floyd Mayweather one of the best pure boxers in the sport, Chad Dawson is not yet a household ring name. On Saturday, the 29-year-old has a chance to step fully into the limelight as he fights one of the sport’s living legends, Bernard Hopkins, for the light heavyweight title.

“I’ve had one of the best training camps that I’ve had in the last eight years,” Dawson explained. “I’m back with one of my old trainers, John Scully, who worked with me earlier in my career. I’m looking to be the Chad Dawson everyone’s used to seeing with the combination punches, great reflexes, using my legs and being an all-around smart fighter in the ring and using my jab.”

There is a quiet confidence about Dawson. He walks and talks like he expects to win. He seems undaunted by the stage he will be on and the accomplishments of the man who will be in the opposite corner. Hopkins, at 46, is 17 years his elder. Dawson’s lone professional loss was an 11th-round technical decision to Jean Pascal, who Hopkins defeated on May 21 to become the oldest boxer to win a title. Despite all that, Dawson believes he will be the victor.

“He’s been around a long time, fought some of the best fighters in the world,” Dawson said. “He’s smart, he’s scrappy and I’m going to take that away from him.”

Part of the confidence comes from a series of big fights that includes two victories over Antonio Tarver and two over Glen Johnson, two vets who also came in with more experience, age and big fights under their belt than Dawson.

“Fights like that where I’ve shown up and been my best. I’ve always showed up in big fights,” Dawson said.

As big as those fights were, though, none had the impact a win over Hopkins would have.

“It would mean the world for me,” Dawson said. “It’s the fight I’ve wanted for a long time. Just to beat Bernard Hopkins, the oldest fighter to ever win the title and be the first to dethrone him, it would mean a lot for me and becoming a big name in boxing.”

Chad Dawson has always come to fight and so has Bernard Hopkins, and that should make for an explosive meeting. The world wants to see Hopkins’ incredible late-career surge continue, and the oddsmakers have deemed Dawson the underdog, and that’s just how he wants it.

“I love being the underdog. I love it,” Dawson said. “I like that people are doubting me. I like that people think Bernard is a better fighter (than) me. They’re all going to be disappointed on Oct. 15. I hope they don’t bet a lot of money on him, because it’s not going to happen that way. It’s great motivation for me. I’m excited to show people something they aren’t expecting to see: Bernard Hopkins getting beaten. Whether it’s a knockout or unanimous decision, he’s going to get beat.”