Two days before Chad Dawson fights under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward for the first time in Montreal, the Hall of Fame trainer is throwing out a comparison to his most famous pupil:
"Chad is very talented," said Steward. "He just has to remain focused and aggressive.
"He can be a little too laid back. He trained at the Kronk gym. He's picked up a bit of Tommy Hearns' aggression."
Steward has a strange relationship with the memory of Tommy Hearns' career. He either dismisses any comparison to Hearns whatsoever, or he makes what seem like odd comparisons to Hearns himself.
For the record, I don't really care how much Chad Dawson has changed, I have serious doubts we ever look at his fights and go, "You know who he reminds me of? Tommy Hearns." I mean, I'd love to be wrong, because Hearns is one of my all-time favorite fighters to watch, but I just don't see Chad Dawson, at 28, unlearning all of his habits (good and bad) in the ring and resembling Hearns any time soon, whether he trains with Steward or not.
Dawson, for his part, is talking the game at least:
"[Diaconu is] a big puncher, but I notice he dies out about the fifth or sixth round," Dawson said. ... "He's definitely not durable. He's not a fighter who can go a hard twelve rounds. I can go 12 rounds. But I'm not looking to go 12 rounds. The moment he dies out, I'll take over the fight and it'll be over."
Who knows? Maybe it's all good for him. Last month, Victor Ortiz transformed his public image from Smilin' Victor O, everybody's buddy who just likes to have fun, to Mean Vic Ortiz Grr, before he showed up with a mildly hilarious new haircut and goatee for his fight with Andre Berto. And Ortiz won that fight, so maybe it's good for Dawson to get himself all psyched up about knocking people out and being the new Tommy Hearns.
As for Diaconu, he's confident he has the power to beat Dawson. I've seen Diaconu fight plenty and honestly, "big puncher" was never the way I'd describe him, and he's a fairly big underdog in this fight for a pretty good reason.