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If Dawson Has Finally Arrived, Thank Hopkins…LOTIERZO

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For the last few years we’ve witnessed Chad Dawson 31-1 (18) fight and appear detached and complacent during certain bouts. And though no one has ever questioned his wealth of physical talent, which is on display every time you see him fight and can’t be missed, you just can’t help but imagine what kind of fighter he might be if he fought with a sense of urgency and as if winning really meant something to him. Which is not saying that it doesn’t, just that it looked as if some fighters stayed with him longer than they should’ve due to him never really stepping on the gas and opening up for more than spurts during particular fights.

Well, based on his last fight against Bernard Hopkins this past weekend, it looks as if that may be a thing of the past. Forget for a moment that Dawson fouled Hopkins and the fight should’ve been declared no-contest. The point is, Dawson knew Hopkins was a fighter that incorporates his own brand of MMA rules into his boxing repertoire when he fights in a ring. And Dawson sure seemed hellbent when he entered the ring that he wasn’t going to let Hopkins bully or mug him in any way shape or form during their fight.

World class fighters are sometimes motivated and driven by their own perceptions and imagined demons. Larry Holmes was driven to excel because he didn’t think he received his due respect. Marvin Hagler imagined that his opponent was trying to take food off of his kitchen table. And everyone knows Hopkins was motivated by the fact that he strongly, and perhaps correctly, believed that in many ways the boxing establishment wanted to take him down and make him irrelevant. And now it appears that Chad Dawson held in a lot of pent up frustration due to his belief that Bernard strung him along and for a couple years denied him his chance to score the signature win of his professional career. Again, it’s not relevant if it’s true, it’s what Chad felt and believed.

It doesn’t matter that referee Pat Russell ruled him a stoppage winner over Hopkins, nor does it matter if down the road the bout is overturned and ruled a no-contest. It also doesn’t matter if Hopkins deserves an Academy Award for his antics after Dawson dropped him to the canvas or if Hopkins was seriously injured and can never fight again. What does matter is what Chad Dawson really believes. And Dawson wholeheartedly believes beyond all doubt that Hopkins wanted out after less than two rounds of fighting him. Dawson never fought more animatedly so early during a bout than he did against Hopkins, and he was just as animated after the fight when he spoke of wanting a rematch with Jean Pascal, the only fighter to beat him.

Think about what’s going through Dawson’s mind at this time. Believing that his speed and athleticism convinced Bernard Hopkins that perhaps he was in for a longer night and tougher road than he anticipated, therefore he was forced to look for a way out of the fight to save face, how can he not feel invincible? When you think of all the outstanding fighters who have tried to break Hopkins’ will (not saying that Dawson did) and didn’t, it’s got to be an infusion of confidence if you are convinced that you were the one who finally did.

It’s also a good sign that Dawson is back with John Scully, who I believe will get more out of him in the future than either former trainers Eddie Mustafa Muhammad or Emanuel Steward did. Granted, Mustafa Muhammad and Steward are bigger name trainers than Scully, but what does that matter? Eddie expects his fighters to do it like he did back in the day, and Steward isn’t at his best when he’s not working with fighters who can really punch with their right hand and driven to win by knockout, which is obviously not Dawson’s style or approach to fighting/boxing.

Scully will keep Dawson grounded and won’t allow him to get too high on himself after his bout with Hopkins. Also, the fact that he’s been in Dawson’s ear about how great he could be and for him to realize it on Scully’s watch will no doubt be a boost for both of their careers. In addition to that, Dawson just may be one of those fighters who needs more attention and cajoling from the man who trains him, something that Scully can definitely handle and he isn’t above it or too busy not to be there for him if and when needed.

It also emerged that in Dawson’s mind Bernard Hopkins was to him what Mike Tyson was to Lennox Lewis or Muhammad Ali was to Joe Frazier, the fighter who hovered over them at every turn who they had to beat in order for their championship tenure to be validated. And Dawson got past Hopkins in a way that will really give him an infusion of confidence and urgency even if the bout ends up being ruled a no-contest in the record book. The fact is Dawson implicitly feels that regardless of what is said or written, he’s so good and formidable that he didn’t have to go through with beating Hopkins up to win – he convinced him enough in under two rounds that he wasn’t going to win that Bernard looked for a way out. And whether Chad Dawson is wrong or right pertaining to that, it’s what he believes and that’s all that matters, which is a mindset he’ll no doubt carry with him into the ring the next time he fights.

Based on Hopkins’ age and decline, along with Dawson’s most likely sky-rocketing confidence, I couldn’t pick against Chad if they fight again. As for Jean Pascal, I think his style will always bother Dawson, but Chad is simply too skilled and fast, and add to that his injection of confidence, I’d pick him over Pascal too if they fight again.

If Dawson emerges as a better and more determined fighter from this point forward, he can thank Bernard Hopkins for forcing him to find that hidden desire and determination within himself.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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