No, Epifanio Mendoza on twelve-days notice isn't the sternest test a fight fan could hope for to see if Chad Dawson is all that, and truly at the top of the list of the best young American boxers.
But the skills and focus Dawson showed in Sacramento on Saturday evening, enroute to a stoppage win at 2:30 of the fourth round, do indeed put him atop that list of skilled Americans. The lefty light heavyweight, who rose to 25-0 as he mixed head shots and body work to devastating effect while defending his title, has craved a defining fight, both to his reputation and his bank account.
This performance may, unfortunately, keep the Tarvers and Hopkins' of the fight world at bay, because what vet wants to step in with a talented lefty with youth on his side?
“I did what I was supposed to do," he said after. "I did my job. I got him out of here. I executed. It would have been the same fight with Diaconu. He would have gotten the same thing.
“It is an honor. I work hard. I put in the work. The work shows. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad said this fight shouldn’t go more than five rounds."
The Connecticut resident, now fighting under the guidance of Muhammad, who himself held the light heavyweight crown in 1980, turned up the gas in the third with a potent mixture of head and body work.
It was just a matter of when, not if, as he trapped Mendoza, a Colombian who drops to 28-5-1, on the ropes. The slugger, who promised to test Dawson's whiskers with his thunderous right, had no answer for the youngster's hand speed. Would it have been any different if scheduled foe Adrian Diaconu, who pulled out with an injured wrist, was in instead of Mendoza? Doubtful. Dawson is the real deal, though it may take us a while more to be convinced. Getting meaningful fights against this skilled kid will be a stern test for his promoter, Gary Shaw.