'Harvard' Hopkins out to educate Dawson

Bernard Hopkins (left) faces off with Chad Dawson.
Bernard Hopkins (left) faces off with Chad Dawson. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: August 10, 2011

NEW YORK - "Styles make fights" is perhaps the most oft-recited advisory in boxing, perhaps because the message it conveys is usually spot-on.

If defensive genius Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and his technically proficient but somewhat cautious challenger, "Bad" Chad Dawson, stick to form in their Oct. 15 WBC light-heavyweight championship bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the forecast likely would call for a pugilistic game of chess - and the prize ring is not a place most action-craving fans would want the principals in a big-time bout to be searching for Bobby Fischer. It isn't difficult to imagine Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) and Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) trying to lure one another into carefully laid traps, and each being savvy enough to avoid taking the bait.

The bout will be televised via HBO Pay-Per-View, at $54.95 a pop.

Dawson, from New Haven, Conn., said that he will present B-Hop with a set of problems that the seemingly ageless icon from North Philadelphia won't be able to solve. He downplayed Hopkins' title-winning victory over Jean Pascal, the only man to have defeated Dawson.

"Me and Jean Pascal are different fighters," Dawson said in his abbreviated turn at the podium, which lasted just over a minute. "I'm more of a laid-back boxer. A lot of people don't think I can punch, but I can. I'm not going for a decision in this fight; I'm going for a knockout.

"I'm 29. I don't see any way he can beat me. I've thought that for the last 3 years [when the possibility of a Hopkins-Dawson matchup first arose] and I still think it."

In his 16-minute soliloquy, Hopkins pounced on the verbal openings Dawson had left him, much as he anticipates taking advantage of every mistake he presumes the southpaw will make 2 months hence.

"You take Chad Dawson's resume and my resume if you're applying for a job, OK? Harvard," he said, pointing to himself. "Community college," he continued, gesturing toward Dawson.

"Chad Dawson has two problems. He's [facing] a guy with a Ph.D. in boxing whose birth certificate says he's 46, but who's a lot younger than that when it comes to the physical side. Now, I'm not the same person I was at 26. I get cramps. I get aches. I'm human. If you pinch me, I'll say 'Ouch.' But I don't feel anything like 46, and I don't fight anything like 46."

As far as Dawson's expectation that he'll become the first fighter to defeat Hopkins inside the distance, well, the North Philadelphian has heard such talk before. And for Dawson referring to himself as having a laid-back style, Hopkins jumped on that like a hungry wolf on a big, juicy T-bone.

"I'm a great dancer," Hopkins said. "But if the other guy is only an OK dancer, he makes me look bad. Then y'all [the media] will write about the boring fight.

"Let's work together to see who whups whose [butt] the worst. He's promising that he's going to be out of character. He says he's going to finally be what his name says, not what his personality shows. 'Bad' Chad had better act bad on Oct. 15 or he's going to be embarrassed. No real man wants to be embarrassed like that."

The fact that Hopkins is now the oldest fighter to win a widely recognized world title, erasing George Foreman's name from the record book for that distinction, has made him more popular and recognizable than he was during the entirety of his record 20-defense middleweight championship reign, when he was not nearly as appreciated as he should have been.

But middle-aged kings of the ring are a rarity, so much so that "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" has come aboard as an official part of the promotion. One can only imagine the hype: "Is it possible for a 46-year-old man to become a world boxing champion? One wouldn't think so, but Bernard Hopkins did it! Believe it or not!"

Hopkins also was in Orlando, Fla., recently for a full-body casting for a wax statue of himself to be displayed at Ripley's Odditorium in midtown Manhattan, putting him not only in a category with Foreman and Archie Moore, but with the waxy likenesses of world political figures, famous entertainers and maybe Jack the Ripper.

Now if only Hopkins can take enough sips from his personal Fountain of Youth to surpass Moore he might feel he's finally accomplished enough to hang up his gloves. B-Hop said he had heard Moore had retained the light-heavyweight crown "until he was 47 or 48," although Boxrec.com shows that "The Old Mongoose" was not quite 44 when he made his last successful defense, against Giulio Rinaldi on June 10, 1961. Then again, there have always been conflicting reports as to the actual year of Moore's birth.

"I want that record. I want that history," Hopkins said of his quest to catch Moore, even if the chase is mostly in his own mind.

Hey, it's B-Hop's story and he's sticking to it. Believe it or not.

Garcia on undercard

Rising junior welterweight contender Danny "Swift" Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs), from the Juniata section, will face former WBO 140-champion Kendall Holt (27-4, 15) on the pay-per-view portion of the Hopkins-Dawson undercard.

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