Dawson says Hopkins will go down again
But the Philadelphia light-heavyweight champ says he's motivated to win by being underrated.
Chad Dawson wants what he believes is rightfully his.
He had the technical knockout victory over Bernard Hopkins. He had the WBC light-heavyweight title in his hands.
But both were stripped from the 29-year-old Dawson before he had enough time to savor his TKO against the ageless Hopkins in their October bout in Los Angeles.
Dawson had turned the fight into an amateur wrestling match when he lifted Hopkins and tossed the 47-year-old Philadelphia fighter to the canvas late in the second round. Hopkins dislocated a joint in his left shoulder and was unable to continue.
The referee waved the fight over and ruled it a TKO, crowning Dawson the new champion.
Not so fast.
After a review due to Dawson's controversial tactics, the decision was ruled a no-contest and the belt returned to Hopkins.
Now, Dawson and Hopkins have a rematch set for Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
For this fight, the man they call "Bad Chad" vows to leave nothing up for dispute.
"I am here to fight and finish off what should have happened the first time we fought," Dawson said. "I was supposed to be crowned light-heavyweight champion."
Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) gets a second shot at taking the title and perhaps retiring Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) for good.
As for Hopkins? "I believe that I'm the most underrated fighter that ever laced a pair of gloves on, that reached a level that I've reached in my 24 years," he said. "And that's a motivation for me to keep pushing, to prove that I've been and who I am."
Hopkins has heard all the criticism for years. He's a boring fighter. He's too old. He'll never hold a major championship while pushing 50. Dawson added a new twist when he flat-out called Hopkins a faker.
Hopkins landed awkwardly on the edge of the ring and told referee Pat Russell he could continue fighting with one arm. When Russell called the bout off, Dawson went over to Hopkins and motioned at him to get off his stool, repeatedly cursing at him. He taunted him, and called him weak and a quitter.
Dawson feels the same toward Hopkins six months later.
"I really don't believe Bernard Hopkins was hurt," Dawson said. "He showed that he really didn't want to be in the ring with me that night."
Even with big bouts and title defenses behind him, the ugly and controversial finish has only fueled Hopkins to keep going against Dawson.
"I guess it's all about his legacy," Dawson said. "I mean, if I was him I wouldn't want to go out on a bad note like that."
Hopkins threw only 29 punches and landed 11 before his injury.
"I tried to get Bernard to fight, but he didn't show any signs that he wanted to fight until the fight was over," Dawson said.
Hopkins hasn't knocked out an opponent since dropping Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004 - 13 fights ago. Hopkins' bouts have been decided by decision ever since, with the exception of a draw in the first Jean Pascal fight in 2010 and the no-contest against Dawson.
In the Pascal rematch, Hopkins won and dethroned George Foreman as the oldest boxer to win a world title.
So no matter the outcome of the rematch, Hopkins is already a legend. And Dawson wants to become one.
In Saturday's other HBO-televised bout on the Hopkins-Dawson card, Chazz Witherspoon (30-2, 22 KOs), cousin of two-time heavyweight champ Tim Witherspoon, swaps punches with Seth Mitchell (24-0-1, 18 KOs) of Brandywine, Md., for the vacant NABO heavyweight belt.