Dawson to honor to slain UConn football player
Dawson was born in South Carolina but resides in New Haven, about an hour's drive from the UConn campus in Storrs. Dawson plans to wear Howard's No. 6 on his trunks and has contacted the school about wearing the player's jersey into the XL Center on Nov. 7.
"It was a horrible tragedy for his family and his football team, and we definitely want to pay our respects to him and the whole UConn football team," said Dawson, who will fight Johnson for the interim WBC title. "My heart goes out to him and UConn and his family."
The 20-year-old Howard was fatally stabbed outside a university-sanctioned dance on Oct. 18, when witnesses say a minor altercation escalated into violence.
John William Lomax III, 21, has been charged with murder, while his friend and co-worker, 20-year-old Hakim Muhammad, has been charged with conspiracy to commit assault. Police have not discussed a motive and investigators' affidavits and arrest warrants are sealed.
"We need people, if they want to fight, they want to feel violent, whatever, they need to wear gloves. Lace up the gloves," said Dawson's promoter, Gary Shaw. "Good citizens like Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson and others need to be the voice of reason."
It's a refrain that Shaw has been sounding for years, and one that's gained more urgency since the shooting death earlier this summer of his friend, former two-division champion Vernon Forrest. Shaw has even created T-shirts that read "Stop the violence outside the ropes," with the proceeds going to Forrest's Destiny's Child Foundation.
"It was a senseless tragedy and I'm glad Chad wanted to get behind this and honor this fallen player," Shaw said during a conference call Thursday. "We're going to do whatever we can inside the arena to honor his memory."
The fight against Johnson (49-12-2, 33 KOs) is a rematch of an entertaining slugfest that Dawson (28-0, 17 KOs) won by unanimous decision in April 2008.
While it should be another entertaining fight for fans, it's a bit tedious for the 27-year-old Dawson. He's stuck in a rut, having beaten Antonio Tarver for a second time and now getting Johnson again, rather than a bigger and more lucrative opportunity against Bernard Hopkins.
Dawson also has an agreement with HBO, which will televise the Johnson fight and would normally provide the best situation. But the agreement could preclude Dawson from dropping down to 168 pounds and joining Showtime's ambitious Super Six tournament, where it's expected that Jermain Taylor will drop out following his brutal opening-bout knockout loss.
"HBO has a first and last punch at Dawson," Shaw said. "I know he would be welcomed into the 168-pound tournament. I believe he'd win it convincingly, bar-none."
That's high praise, considering Shaw also promotes tournament contender Andre Dirrell.
"When this fight is over, we'll sit down with HBO - I have an appointment with them that week - and we'll talk about 2010," Shaw said.
That's assuming, of course, that Dawson can again handle the 40-year-old Johnson.
The veteran from Jamaica, nicknamed the "road warrior" for his willingness to fight in hostile arenas, has been in with veterans ranging from Tarver and Hopkins to Roy Jones Jr.
He's proven that age is just a number with recent victories over Aaron Norwood and Daniel Judah, and still believes he won the first fight against Dawson. Johnson said he landed the cleaner and more convincing blows throughout the night.
"Chad Dawson moves a lot and just tried to throw punches at my defense. My understanding, boxing is supposed to be judged on clean and effective punching," Johnson said. "If something has changed, someone needs to tell me."