HARTFORD, Conn. -In a facile and largely untroubled performance in a fight he at no time seemed in any danger of losing, Chad Dawson took the measure of 40 year-old Glen Johnson and remained undefeated at 28-0, solidifying his claim as the world's best light-heavyweight.  But he sure wasn't taking any chances.

On the other hand, when Dawson somewhat giddily proclaimed afterward “I had to put on a show for the home folks,” some of the home folks seemed to be shaking  their heads as if to say “Did he just say that?” That Bad Chad had just won a version of the 175-pound championship for the third time was indisputable, but that, at least on this evening, Chad was Bad at all remains somewhat open to dispute.

Twenty years after Marlon Starling defended his WBC welterweight title when Saturday night's venue was still the Hartford Civic Center, promoters were proclaiming HBO's incursion into the XL Center “Title Night in Hartford,” although in fact, both titles at stake were of the 'interim' variety.  Perhaps the WBC was feeling somewhat guilty about Dawson, who resigned first the WBC belt and then the IBF's at the behest of television networks, and didn't even have a magazine belt to show for it, but several weeks ago Jose Sulaiman, to Dawson's surprise as much as anyone else's, voluntarily put the interim tag on the Johnson rematch. In practical terms this doesn't mean much, other than that the winner of Jean Pascal-Adrian Diaconu II in Montreal next month is now obligated to face Dawson.

Unless, of course, HBO has other plans for Chad, in which case he could find himself at some future date the first undefeated fighter in light-heavyweight history to win the 175-pound title four times.

Saturday's other interim designation was more curious still. The WBO decided to put the interim tag on the Alfredo Angulo-Harry Joe Yorgey mismatch, even though at the time the Body Odor folks made the ruling they already had not only a champion (Sergei Dzindziruk) and an interim champion (Paul Williams), but a mandatory contender (Kermit Cintron) who had already soundly whipped Angulo waiting in the wings.

Since Dawson had been fairly convincing in beating Johnson (116-112 on all three cards) in their 2008 bout, it's not clear exactly what about it warranted a rematch, but even though a couple of the scorecards were closer this time around, the issue was never in doubt. From the first round on the bout took on a sameness: Johnson seemed positively geriatric as he attempted to apply the pressure and walk Dawson down; Dawson would dutifully retreat for a time and then abruptly stand his ground to snap off a couple of right jabs followed by a stiff left.

Since Johnson for the most part couldn't get near Dawson, and since Dawson seemed perfectly happy to bang the lefts off Johnson's shoulders when he missed and his chest when he didn't, neither man looked much as if he'd been in a fight at all after twelve rounds.  In their first meeting, Johnson had done his best to wear Dawson down and make a fight of it in the latter rounds, and hoped to do the same on this night, except his body wouldn't cooperate.

That two judges — Duane Ford and Mike Pernick — had it 115-113 was mildly surprising.  The Sweet Science card agreed with Glenn Feldman's 117-111 tally, and many ringsiders had Dawson winning by an even wider margin. Even Glencoffe seemed surprised that a couple of judges had it that close.

On the other hand, Johnson has had a pretty nice run, considering that he was widely assumed to be washed up as he entered his thirties with four straight losses. In fact between November of 1999 and November of 2003, Johnson won just three of 11 fights.

Though none the worse for wear, he was plainly weary from chasing Dawson around all night, and openly spoke of possible retirement afterward.

“I'll see what phone calls I get,” said the Jamaican-born “Road Warrior. “If something comes along that makes sense then I might fight again. If there's nothing worthwhile, I'll probably retire.”

If this was indeed his swan song, Johnson will go out with a career log of 49-13-2.

Angulo-Yorgey

Angulo had been considered a looming presence in the 154-pound division until last May, when he was more or less exposed by Cintron in Florida. Yorgey, on the other hand, had labored in total obscurity until he beat previously undefeated Jason LeHoullier last August and then knocked out another unbeaten prospect, Ronald Hearns, in March.

The fact that boxing fans now knew his name didn't mean he was ready for Angulo; on the other hand, Yorgey actually boxed well enough for the first two minutes of the fight to carry the first round on all three judge's cards, but even over that final minute of the opening round Angulo's shots were beginning to find their mark and it seemed only a matter of time.

That Yorgey lasted into the third can almost exclusively be attributed to the fact that referee Johnny Callas experienced a frightening in-ring meltdown that saw him totally lose control of the fight. In the second round Angulo hurt Yorgey with a couple of hard right hands, and then, like a man playing Whack-a-Mole, drove him to his haunches and finally to the floor in his own corner.

Angulo appeared to land at least two more punches after his opponent was down, but not only did the act go unpunished, the next thing you knew the referee was waving the two back into action. Or was he?

With Angulo on the brink of finishing his opponent, the referee stepped between the fighters and separated them for no apparent reason (The best we can figure, Callas may have thought of administering a standing-8 and then, realizing that the rule did not obtain, thought better of it.) Having now broken the combatants, he flung Yorgey aside to get him out of the way and consequently had his back turned when Yorgey's legs all but gave way beneath him.

Angulo continued his brutal attack in the third, and it was beginning to look as if the only way it might be stopped would be if Yorgey's corner did it for him, but then Angulo landed a right and then a left that sent Yorgey down for keeps. By now even Callas had to wave it off.  The victim remained on the canvas for several minutes and an ambulance was eventually summoned.

When Yorgey’s new trainer Jack Loew angrily complained about the referee's mishandling of the bout even Callas appeared to acknowledge that he'd had a bad night.

“Sorry, Jack,” he said.

The end had come at 1:03 of the third. The new 'interim champion' is now 16-1, while Yorgey, having absorbed his first loss, is 22-1-1.

Prelims

Philadelphia middleweight Tyrone Brunson remained undefeated at 21-0-1 with a third-round kayo of another Philly-based fighter, Puerto Rican-born Jose Medina (15-16). After Brunson caught Medina to a hard shot to the short ribs, the opponent dropped to his knee and took Dick Flaherty's count without making any move to arise. The end, which came at 1:31 of the third, continued a downward spiral for Medina, who has now dropped seven of his last eight.

Although Bobby DaLuz of Providence bills himself as “Don't Lose,” he apparently does little else. California junior feather Chris Avalos won every round on Duane Ford's 80-71 scorecard, seven of eight (79-73) on those of Mchael Pernick and Duke Lawson, in posting a unanimous decision that raised his record to 13-0, while DaLuz fell to 12-22-3.

In what may have been the most bizarre bout of the undercard, Colombian Francisco Osorio finally had to take control of matters himself to earn a well-deserved TKO loss to Michael Oliveria. Osorio's bout against the unbeaten Florida teenager had been scheduled, and announced, for six rounds, but after half a dozen stanzas a round-card girl materialized in the ring toting a “7” sign, and referee Joe Lupino  shrugged and ordered the fighters back into action. Following that round, Osorios, reasoning that this was more punishment than he had bargained for, declined to come out for the eighth and saw his record fall to 12-7. Oliveira is now 9-0.

Nicaraguan opponent Octavio Narvaez (7-8-1) put up a good effort in his 9-rounder against undefeated Mexican Orlando Lora (26-0-1), it was not enough to carry the day on the cards of the judges.  Lawson scored it 78-75, Glenn Feldman and Don Trella 77-75, all for Lora. The crowd, which had apparently gotten carried away by Narvaez' animated enthuisiasm, booed the verdict.

New York heavyweight Eman Ali improved to 3-0 with a first round knockout over Kelsey Arnold (1-4-2) of Lexington, Tenn.

*  *  *

XL CENTER, Hartford, Conn.

Nov. 7, 2009

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Chad Dawson, 175, New Haven, Conn. dec. Glencoffe Johnson, 173 1/2, Clarendon, Jamaica (12) (Wins interim WBC title)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Alfredo Angulo, 153 1/2, Mexicali, Mexico KO'd Harry Joe Yorgey, 153 1/4, Bridgeport, Pa. (3) (Wins interim WBO title)

Orlando Lora, 148, Culiacan, Mexico dec. Octavio Narvaez, 152 3/4, Chinandega, Nicaragua (8)

HEAVYWEIGHTS: Emad Ali, 207, New York, NY 207 KO'd  Kelsey Arnold, 241, Lexington, Tenn. (1)

MIDDLEWEIGHTS:  Tyrone Brunson, 157, Philadelphia, Pa. KO'd  Jose Medina, 157 1/2 Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico (3)

Michael Oliveira, 160, Miami, Fla. TKO'd  Francisco Rube Osorio, 160, Baranquilla, Colombia (7)

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS: Chris Avalos, 118, Lancaster, Calif. dec, Robert LaDuz, 121 1/2, Providence, RI (8)