In a few weeks IBF light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson 28-0 (17) will fight a rematch with former champ Glen Johnson 49-12-2 (33). Their first fight back in April of 2008 was an outstanding bout with a plethora of back and forth action. Neither fighter went down but Dawson was seriously shook via a beautiful over-hand right from Johnson with about a minute left in the 10th round. Dawson summoned great reserve and came back to split the eleventh and twelfth rounds of the bout with Johnson.
When the decision was announced Dawson retained his title when all three judges submitted scorecards of 116-112 (8-4 in rounds) in favor of Dawson. The decision was met with much disapproval as it should've been. The fight was extremely close and could've gone to either fighter by a point, two at the most. Once again the officials who judged the fight must've been sleeping during it or have no understanding or appreciation for a top professional like Glen Johnson who applies non-stop pressure and throws a lot of punches. There's no sense in beating the horrific scoring of the fight to death because it's not gonna change, at least not during the lifetime of anyone reading this.
After just having been subjected to a dud like Froch-Dirrell this past weekend, the Dawson-Johnson rematch is almost like anticipating the “Thirlla In Manila.” There's no secret as to what each fighter will be attempting to do this time, and what's more is both fighters can be counted on to show up and fight as if winning actually means something to them. Johnson's heart and determination is a given. He's demonstrated throughout his entire career that he's more than willing to fight anybody, and he'll do it in their backyard. And Dawson showed he's for real in their last bout when he was shook badly by a Johnson over-hand right late in the bout. A tired Dawson came back in the eleventh and fought Johnson off and righted the ship. So there's no question here that Dawson's for real and won't be awed in the least by Johnson's toughness and virtually unbreakable will.
From a style vantage point Dawson and Johnson are the perfect foil for each other. In many aspects ones strength is the others weakness and vice-versa. The fighter who can keep from being worn out by trying to impose himself on the other physically wins. That said, Chad Dawson is the story of this fight. Johnson who's a very strong fully-grown man faced a version of Dawson who was still a growing boy a year and a half ago. The biggest difference this time should be Dawson's ability to hold his ground effectively on the inside, something he wasn't quite strong enough to do last time. Dawson will be better equipped physically for this fight and can also add to his arsenal and show Glen a few things he didn't see when they met the first time. On the other hand Johnson is the same fighter every time out and will not change or show Dawson anything he didn't see from him already.
It's unlikely that Dawson can stop Johnson and no doubt his trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad will prepare him for the twelve hard rounds that he has in front of him. Dawson will have to keep firing but not look for the knockout, which isn't really his style. The reality is Dawson doesn't posses the power to discourage Johnson from pressuring him, so he should be fine as long as he's moving and boxing. If Dawson implements some clinching and grabbing of Johnson when he's forced to the ropes or cornered he'll make the fight less taxing on himself physically this time. During their last fight there were patches of it where Dawson was trapped along the ropes and didn't let his hands go, and as a result Johnson gained the advantage and momentum. Also, Dawson has to move to the left or the right after he gets off or when he's not punching. There were several occasions in their last fight when he was caught by Johnson's straight counters because he moved straight back after breaking off the exchange.
Another thing Chad can improve on is not pawing with his right jab nor can he fall in with his chin unprotected and open for Johnson's right uppercut. The paw/push jab isn't a real punch and an experienced pro like Johnson will see through it every time. When Dawson tried to keep Johnson off with it, Glen smacked it aside and scored frequently when he went to Dawson's body with his left hook or over the top with his right hand. Johnson's too strong and determined to throw meaningless punches at.
Johnson tired and slowed a bit during the seventh round of their first meeting, but Dawson couldn't seize the bout because the pace he was forced to fight in the early rounds took a lot out of him. Well, that and Johnson knows how to fight tired and did get a second wind shortly there after. This time the difference should be Dawson has probably matured even more physically and based on the things he didn't do the last time can show up as a better and more complete fighter than what we saw the first time they met.
Dawson recently said, “I want to leave no doubt with him, his team or the judges. If it goes 12 rounds, I want a unanimous, unanimous decision. I’m ready to take on Johnson and put to rest this idea that he should have won the last fight.”
Something he should be able to accomplish versus the 40 year old Johnson if he's a little stronger in this fight and also takes advantage of some added weapons that he didn't incorporate into his arsenal in April of 2008. Only this fight will end without any controversy as to weather or not he deserves the decision.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com