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Dawson certain his time will come

05
May

Chad Dawson isn’t particularly thrilled about fighting 40-year-old Antonio Tarver again on Saturday in Las Vegas on HBO.

The last time they met, in October, one of the brightest young stars in boxing gave the old man a one-sided beating en route to a unanimous decision. The rematch clause in the contract says they must do it again, though, so here we are.

Dawson, 26, is eager to get this annoyance out of the way and move on to the big things for which he feels he’s destined.

The problem is this: There are few big-name fighters at either 175 pounds (his current weight) or 168 pounds (a weight at which he’s willing to fight). He has as much talent as anyone, it seems, but limited opportunities to prove it.

And he’s tired of trying goad prospective opponents into the ring – Bernard Hopkins, in particular. He figures he’ll get his due if he continues to win.

“Yes, it’s frustrating sometimes,” he said by phone after a training session in Las Vegas. “I was watching the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight on TV (last Saturday). And as good as he looked, I watch a fight like that and think, ‘I’m just as talented as this guy who is ranked No. 1 in the world pound for pound.’

“He definitely deserves to be No. 1. It’s just frustrating because I know I’m better than most of the guys up there.”

Dawson (28-0, 17 knockouts) has passed significant tests.

He retired Eric Harding with a one-sided decision in 2006. He won the WBC light heavyweight title by easily outpointing tough Tomasz Adamek the following year, Adamek’s only loss. He outlasted wily Glen Johnson last year in his toughest fight, emerging with a unanimous decision. And he dominated Tarver.

Those are some impressive victories, even if he doesn’t get much credit for them.

“I’ve been following Adamek’s career pretty closely,” he said. “The guy is the best cruiserweight in the world. I don’t think many people look at the fact I gave him his only loss. They’re going to have to see things like that for me to get recognition.

“I can’t let it bother me, though. I’ll get recognition one day.”

Dawson would like to fight Hopkins for obvious reasons if he beats Tarver again: Big name, big money, and some of that recognition to boot if he can win.

Hopkins was asked during Pacquiao-Hatton fight week whether he’d take on Dawson. His response is the same no matter which prospective opponent is mentioned: “I’ll fight anyone if the money is right,” which seems reasonable for a 44-year-old legend.

However, it’s not a good matchup for Hopkins. Dawson is probably too quick and slick for the Hopkins of today. And Dawson, still a relative unknown, won’t generate the kind of money Hopkins has in mind. Big risk, small reward.

“I understand his thinking,” said Dawson’s longtime manager, Mike Criscio, who intends to continue pursuing Hopkins nevertheless.

If that doesn’t work out? The pool isn’t very large.

That’s why he is willing to go down to 168, a Paul Williams-like move he hopes will open up new possibilities. He loves the idea of fighting No. 1-rated super middleweight Mikkel Kessler or tough, but limited Carl Froch, who disposed of Jermain Taylor last month.

“Hey, if it really becomes a problem, I’ll go up to cruiserweight (200-pound limit),” he said with a laugh. “Boxing is a funny sport. The guys who deserve a shot at the big fights don’t get them, and the guys who don’t, do get them.

“It should be the best fighting the best, but that’s not what’s going on. Bernard ducking me is an example. I heard he’s looking to fight (Felix) Trinidad again. Trinidad?”

For now, Dawson must concentrate on Tarver, a former light heavyweight titleholder who appears to have declined but shouldn’t’ be overlooked. If nothing else, his experience and pride could work in his favor.

Dawson said he’ll no trouble finding the emotional energy he’ll need on Saturday. Finding motivation is never a problem for him.

The son of Rick (a former professional fighter) and Wanda Dawson had six siblings growing up in Hartsville, S.C., and then New Haven, Conn. He always had food on the table and a roof over his head but little else.

He shared a single room with his four brothers until he was a teenager, which he said was crowded but fun. That would include a regular activity, fist fights.

“Five boys in one room? You can’t top that,” he said, again laughing. “We fought all the time.”

At the same time, he’ll never forget having nothing but the essentials, wearing hand-me-down clothes, struggling every day in the face of poverty. He is fighting now so his wife and three boys – ages 5, 2 and two months – have a better life than he had.

“I’m the father of three beautiful boys and I’m married,” he said. “That’s what drives me. When I’m at training camp, away from my family for two, three months at a time, that’s what I think of, the fact I didn’t have a good life growing up.

“ÔǪ I’ll be up for the (Tarver) fight. I want to get better and better. I’ll show the fans something a little bit different, a little more speed and a little more power. I’ll pick up whether I left off in the last fight.”

And then, if things go well, he’ll worry about what comes next.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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