Monday, January 30, 2012

Hopkins Wants Dawson On The Boardwalk

By Rich Mancuso

The first fight with Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson was shifted from the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey. Territorial venue issues with Main Events, the New Jersey based promotion caused the fight venue shift to the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

At the time, it did matter to Hopkins. His supporters would offer their displeasure to travel further and see Hopkins, the oldest fighter to hold a championship belt. Dawson went about his business, also not pleased that that there was a different venue for the fight. But he continued to do his business.

Now when the two meet again, and for the WBC light heavyweight title, held by Hopkins, the situation of where the April 28th bout takes place will be an issue. Especially for Hopkins, the Golden Boy promoted champion who favors Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as the venue to defend his title.

“This is where it should have been the first time,” commented Hopkins, adding that Boardwalk Hall has been a venue of historic fights, more so it is Hopkins territory, no more than an hour drive from his hometown in Philadelphia. Dawson, who thought he won the title in the first fight, and later would have to give back the belt to Hopkins, would not have to travel far from New Haven Connecticut.

According to Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, Boardwalk Hall appears to be the venue, and HBO is a leader in televising the championship bout. It is also the last fight that Hopkins has in his deal with HBO. There is a score to settle and it is a fight, WBC mandated which resulted from the controversy of the first fight when Hopkins, according to referee Pat Russell, could not continue.

That second round second was one of the controversial endings of a championship HBO Pay-Per-View fight. Hopkins has completed his road to recovery and is ready again to defend the title. A third fight with Hopkins and Jean Pascal was discussed, however, with the WBC mandatory in place Pascal will once again have to wait for another opportunity.

“The shoulder is ready,” commented Hopkins, 53-3-2, who became the oldest fighter in boxing history to hold a title at 46 years of age when he defeated Pascal in their second fight last May. According to the WBC, a third fight is still possible, all of course pending on the outcome of the second Dawson-Hopkins fight.

Hopkins, a fan favorite who continues to stamp his mark in the Boxing Hall of Fame, has said he will continue to fight as long as his body cooperates. He said that defeating Pascal was a continuation of his legacy, as was the case when he defended his title against Dawson.. However, this time the legacy he wants, is to make sure there is a decisive winner no matter where the fight takes place.

“I have a chance to settle this,” said Hopkins by phone when the date for a return with Dawson was made public. “Straighten this all out,” he said. “A real athlete, don’t want to win on a disqualification.” The no -decision was also an issue, and Hopkins an old school fighter, has always stated that boxing needs to be corrected by doing the proper thing for fans.

As Hopkins continued to recover, at a rehabilitation facility in his hometown, he heard the emotions from fans. They want him to continue and there had to be a decisive ending with Dawson. After the first ending, he contemplated what would be the future. If the shoulder would not heal properly, the Hopkins legacy would not continue.

However, the champion has a body of a 24-year old, and takes his conditioning seriously. “Dawson has a chance to prove to the world what he thinks he can do to me,” he says. “And I have a chance to prove that he’s not going to do what he thinks he’s going to do,”

Because of the first outcome, the fight will not be a pay-per-view telecast. So the other issue is revenue fees from HBO and who will get what. Dawson, training in New Haven will be available to update his plan for the return bout in the next few days and his promoter, Gary Shaw is negotiating the financial issues and venue with Schaefer and HBO.

All of that does not matter to the boxing fan. They want to see a good ending in the second fight, even if Boardwalk Hall is not the venue. The Atlantic City age of the big fight has been limited since the retirement of the late champion Arturo Gatti. Though Sergio Martinez, the unofficial middleweight champion has had a good run at Boardwalk Hall. The recent Showtime Super Six 160-championship bout with Carl Froch and Andre Ward did not draw as expected in December.

All of that does mean something to the boxing industry. Big fights and major venues, Hopkins, though is more interested in having a resolution to who should be the winner. As much as the preference is to fight in Atlantic City, there is that itch to get back in the ring and continue the legacy. He scored upset wins, as an underdog on the boardwalk against Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik.

“I have a lot of history of making history in Atlantic City,” says Hopkins.

This post is sponsored in part by Bayside Coops & Garden City Real Estate

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