Sunday, March 26, 2023  |



Never mind alphabet title silliness, Dawson-Pascal is a good fight


Chad Dawson is more focused on proving he's the world's best light heavyweight than collecting alphabet titles, but his son Prince seems to enjoy holding one of his belts. Dawson fights Jean Pascal for the vacant RING title on Saturday. Photo / Emily

If for reasons ranging from apathy to dementia you’re inclined to put stock in the various appointments, indignities, and other assorted vagaries committed by the fight game’s so-called governing bodies, you know that next week’s fight between Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal will result in, among many things, an “undisputed” WBC light heavyweight champion.

With any luck, the logical part of your mind will be compelled to question how the identity of the titleholder of a single governing body can be disputed in the first place. If nothing else, a boxing regulatory body should be in agreement with itself as to the identity of its champions.

Well, yes. And no. And only if you have agreement on what the term “champion” means. Or “identity.” Or “its.” Or “agreement.”

Dawson claimed the WBC “interim” title ostensibly by beating Glen Johnson last November. This he added to his IBO light heavyweight title, which followed stints as the IBF beltholder, which was preceded by a reign as the champion of the very same organization for whose “undisputed” title he fights next week.

Several of these titles were stripped from Dawson at one time or another for the high crimes of facing Antonio Tarver and Johnson, who happened to be the highest rated light heavyweights according to anyone not making a living off sanctioning fees, not to mention the only ones of good stature who would face him.

All of this has resulted in the following grotesque inevitability: By the time his career is done, Dawson, a fine but hardly exceptional fighter, will almost assuredly have won more light heavyweight “world” titles than Archie Moore, Billy Conn, Tommy Loughran, Joey Maxim, Harold Johnson, Bob Foster, and Michael Spinks combined.

And then some.

For his part, Pascal claimed the “regular” WBC title by beating the well-regarded Adrian Diaconu in 2009 and has defended the belt twice. This after losing to Carl Froch in a battle for the WBC super middleweight belt, after which, according to the best available sources (, he captured the coveted WBO Inter-Continental super middleweight title, which, for reasons we can neither fathom nor explain, was vacant at the time. Perhaps it had something to with no one knowing what the hell it is.

Still with us?

All this, of course, followed Pascal’s lengthy and momentous reign as the WBO/NABO, NABA and NABF super middleweight champion, which in some quarters is as highly regarded a post as assistant to the acting head of sanitation engineering, or special adjunct to the office of dung collection and removal, municipal division.

None of this should overshadow the happy reality that title belt madness notwithstanding, the Dawson-Pascal winner (or Pascal-Dawson if you’re Canadian, eh?) will deservedly receive recognition as THE RING’s world light heavyweight champion. There’s only one.

But never mind that too for the moment. You can throw out all the belts, sanctioning fees, vacancies, BC this and BC that, IB this and WB that. This is a hell of a good matchup that should provide action, drama, and two-way thrills, the kind of theater that can be found only in a prize ring: a struggle between two world-class athletes at the pinnacle of their respective and very considerable abilities.

That’s good enough for me.

Some random observations from last week:

It goes against the laws of nature to praise moneyed monoliths like HBO and Don King Productions, but both deserve kudos for Saturday night’s card from St. Louis. The judging was a bit suspect, but what do you expect when you’ve got young, exciting guys in Tavoris Cloud and Devon Alexander going against a 41-year-old with a wrinkled scalp and a Ukrainian who looks like he’s on a first-name basis with all the local liquor store clerks? This sport has always been about the futureÔǪ

For what it’s worth, from my couch I had Johnson edging out Cloud 115-114 in a wonderful slugfest, and Alexander just getting by Andriy Kotelnik by the same score.

Harold Lederman’s lopsided score in favor of Alexander, based presumably on Alexander’s noteworthy ability to muss Kotelnik’s hair with the breeze created by his many misses, was an abomination that provided a rare insight into the cause of much of the controversy involved in the scoring of professional prizefights. If, as Lederman implied, judges are trained to reward “busyness” over a more conservative strategy that favors quality over quantity, well, yeah, that’s a problemÔǪ

Nevertheless, Lederman got himself a fan for life here, when, at the start of the third round of Cloud-Johnson he announced: “What a goddam fight this is!” Good for you, HaroldÔǪ

You’ve got to admire Johnson’s composure. If Cloud had growled at me like that during the referee’s instructions my next move would have been to hail a cab. Johnson yawnedÔǪ

Alexander is a likeable kid with a wonderful story, which makes it especially unlucky that he’s the least capable of the top junior welterweights. Tim Bradley — whom Alexander hilariously called out with a “Bradley U Next” T-shirt during the postfight interview — is a far more formidable fighter, as is Amir Khan. Alexander would be hard-pressed to beat Lamont Peterson, a good fighter Bradley thoroughly outclassedÔǪ

You’d think the mostly dismal performances Breidis Prescott has turned in since flattening Khan would encourage Khan to lobby hard for a rematch. You’d be wrongÔǪ

Make no mistake, if Don King somehow manages to sign Floyd Mayweather to a promotional contract, King will have forged one of the great comebacks in the history of sport

Cornelius Bundrage’s knockout of Cory Spinks is more evidence yet that you should never underestimate the value of awkwardness, immense self-belief, and Emanuel Steward in your cornerÔǪ

Biggest waste of money ever: whatever HBO paid the guy who translated between-round instructions Kotelnik received from English-speaking Stacey McKinley

Chris Avelos is still a heck of a puncher and his loss to Chris Martin on ShoBox will make him a better fighter down the road

With all those empty seats at the Friday Night Fights and ShoBox cards I thought I was watching a doubleheader between the Oakland As and the Florida Marlins

If not for the Cloud-Johnson slugfest, the best fight of the weekend would have been the four-round draw between Antonio Avila and Russell Fiore on Friday Night Fights

Alfredo Escalera, Sr. was a damned good junior lightweight. His son is a chubby cruiserweight. Who's Junior's mother, Gabourey Sidibe?

Bill Dettloff, THE RING magazine’s Senior Writer, is the co-author, along with Joe Frazier, of “Box Like the Pros.” He is currently working on a biography of Ezzard Charles.

Bill can be contacted at [email protected]