He's matured physically and now fights with a sense of purpose and confidence that he's never exhibited before in his career. Chad Dawson 29-0 (17) has filled out and developed as a professional fighter. And as it was the prevailing thought before the fight, Dawson appeared to be almost two years better this time and Glen Johnson emerged as being that much older.
In his rematch with Glen Johnson 49-13-2 (33) on Saturday, Dawson was poised and relaxed from opening bell to closing bell. For 10 of the 12 rounds they fought it was really no contest. Dawson was a step ahead and was simply too fast for Johnson inside and outside. He also did what he wanted, when he wanted and to whatever extent he wanted against Johnson in the process of securing a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores of 117-111 and 115-113 twice to retain his IBO light heavyweight title.
Just once would it be a welcome change to watch a fight between two of the best in their respective division and not mention the referee or the scoring. In the case of Dawson-Johnson II the referee had little to do between the two top pros because there weren't many clinches or sustained infighting, as Dawson saw to that. However, the judges who scored it 115-113 (7-5 in rounds) for Dawson must have been influenced by the crowing Johnson did after the decision went against him in their first fight.
Glen Johnson is impossible not to like and respect as a fighter. But he was never in the fight with Dawson nor did he threaten to be in it at any time. He won the fifth round after being told in his corner that he'd lost the first four. The only other round there was a case for giving him was the last round, – and that was mainly because Dawson's trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad implored Chad to keep his hands up and not to get careless against a desperate Johnson who knew he needed a knockout to win the fight. At best Johnson won three rounds.
As for the fight, Chad Dawson boxed – traded, flurried, and used the ring to circle Johnson as he pivoted around him and held his ground winning the exchanges on the inside. Dawson put on a boxing clinic as he lured Johnson into trying to assert himself early in the round and then from the midpoint on opened up with three punch combos and left leads to the head and body that befuddled Johnson and disrupted his aggression just enough to give Dawson the needed time and distance to reload or move.
Dawson also showed a little more willingness to trade with Johnson when he had his feet set as he sat down on his punches more in this fight and was effective going to the body with his right hook.
The obstacle for Johnson was overcoming Chad's speed of hand and foot. Like most boxers who use their legs and a lot of lateral movement when they fight a non-stop attacker like Johnson, Dawson forced him to use up portions of the round in chunks just in trying to get to him. Another problem Johnson had was Dawson learned from their first fight and he didn't show Chad anything he hadn't already seen before in their first fight.
Johnson's game-plan this time was what it always has been—bring the heat and try to come over the top with the right hand and then the left hook. Only Dawson was too fast and instead of just pawing with his jab and getting out of the way, he stopped and planted his feet and took chances countering with a straight left to the face or brought it up the middle as an upper-cut and scored.
The rematch between Dawson and Johnson turned out to be all about Dawson. I know Johnson is on the decline and his days of being one of the upper-tier light heavyweights in the world are coming to an end. But in all fairness, Chad Dawson had a lot to do with Glen Johnson looking like a fighter who's in the process of submitting to Father Time.
The 27 year-old Dawson has dominated 40 year-old former champions Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in rematches. He has a budding career in front of him fighting in the light heavyweight division and has the potential to become a terrific fighter.
Hopefully he'll abandon the idea of going down to super-middleweight or moving up and fighting as a heavyweight. There's plenty of work and fame ahead of him if he stays put and cleans out the light heavyweight division, and proves he is the best fighter in it, not just potentially the best.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com