HOW HE DID IT: Adonis Showed Ring Smarts, Not Just Power
Chad Dawson's career took a serious nose dive this past Saturday night in Montreal after Adonis Stevenson knocked him out in the very first round and claimed the lineal light heavyweight title.
A little under a minute into the fight, Stevenson (now 21-1 with 18 knockouts) connected with a stiff left cross that sent Dawson (now 31-3 with 2 no contests and 17 knockouts) crashing to the canvas. Although Dawson managed to beat the count, referee Michael Griffen correctly deemed him unfit to continue and signalled for the end.
In this brief analysis of a very brief fight, I'd like to breakdown what Adonis Stevenson did that allowed him to take advantage of a serious hole in Chad Dawson's game and score that stunning first round knockout.
A lot can happen in under a minute!
Neutralizing and establishing the jab
As I'm certain anyone reading this will be aware, the jab is an essential part of any fighter's arsenal. Quite simply, there is no greater weapon in boxing. Needless to say, if a fighter can successfully take away his/her opponent's jab while establishing their own, chances of them winning will increase dramatically. In the very short time the fight lasted, we saw Stevenson consistently countering Dawson's jab.
Here, Stevenson performs an outside parry and counters Dawson with a short right hook on the chin.
Stevenson continued to counter Dawson’s jab with a right hook along with a jab of his own.
Here is Stevenson countering Dawson’s jab on three separate occasions. By taking his head off line, Stevenson connects with his right hand and forces Dawson (whose head remains central) to miss with his.
Stevenson also had success landing his jab to the body.
Here is Stevenson targeting Dawson’s body with the jab.
The body jab is an excellent weapon to use against reactive fighters like Dawson who tend to overreact by lowering their guard in order to compensate. Attacking one target for a period of time before shifting the attack to a different target is excellent strategy (Floyd Mayweather is a masterful at it).
By consistently landing his jab to Dawson's body, Stevenson was able to lay down the ground work for the knockout left cross.
In the knockout sequence, Stevenson circles right (which he did for best part of the fight), feints low (as if to throw a body jab), blinds Dawson with a non-contact jab and then connects with a left cross. Notice how Dawson has overreacted to Stevenson's level change (feint). Also, take a look at Stevenson's body alignment in relation to Dawson's as he shoots his left cross. When moving from the jab to the cross in combination (one-two), a fighter should move his lead foot out to the lead side. By doing this in conjunction with throwing a blinding jab to serve as a distraction, Stevenson was able to bridge the gap and secure a dominant angle of attack without telegraphing his intentions.
An intelligent fighter should always study his opponent in search for any habits prior to the fight, making note of any patterns that seem recurrent in their tactics. It is my belief, that while Chad Dawson was rumored to have called upon Google to learn more about his opponent, Stevenson had done his homework and studied Chad Dawson extensively. Going one step further, I believe Stevenson may have seen something specific in Dawson during his fight with Andre Ward.
Whenever his opponents launch an attack, Dawson nearly always tries to counter them with a lead right hook. By attacking Dawson indirectly (either by feinting or by targeting the body before attacking up top), Ward was able to sneak his left hand in past Dawson’s low lead arm as he was winding up his hook.
Here is Andre Ward taking advantage of Dawson as he attempts to launch a counter right hook. The low lead of Dawson exposes him to attacks coming in from his right.
Another look at the knockout shows Dawson trying to land the exact same counter right hook against Stevenson.
Notice Dawson’s poor lead hand position as Stevenson connects with a left cross. Because Stevenson is a hard hitting southpaw whose main threat was coming from his more potent rear hand, the low lead hand of Dawson was a recipe for disaster.
Because of the nature of the knockout, Stevenson’s punching power will likely garner most of the headlines. But as was the case with Lucas Matthysse the other week, I’ve come away finding myself even more impressed with Stevenson’s ring acumen and ability to maximize his punching power –using good footwork, feints and a varied jab—by knowing how to first set his opponent up.