Chad Dawson claims that he's processed and easily gotten past last September's devastating loss to Andre Ward at 168 pounds, but the way he talks about the fight makes you wonder if that's really the case, as he prepares for Saturday's HBO main event at 175 against Adonis Stevenson.
Dawson (31-2, 17 KO) was stopped in the tenth round, going down in the third, fourth, and 10th frames before telling referee Steve Smoger that he'd had enough. The "quitting" loss was criticized somewhat at the time, but others couldn't really blame Dawson, as he'd simply been outclassed and beaten up by a healthier, stronger Ward. The weight drain to get down to 168 seemed pretty obvious.
"My honest opinion is it was definitely a set up by HBO and other people too. It was set up for me to come in at 168. I would be vulnerable and they could expose it and he would look good at the same time. That's just my opinion on the whole situation. We could've done it at a catch weight where we both would've been comfortable but they wanted it at 168. They wanted me to come to Oakland. And I know HBO has high hopes for Andre Ward. I know they have high hopes for him and they want to make him this big champion but that's water under the bridge for me."
I don't even want to say he's wrong or crazy, because what the hell do I know? It's true that nobody forced Chad Dawson to go to 168 pounds. He could have passed on the idea and taken a lesser fight, but the money was right for this one. I'm sure most at HBO did expect Ward to win, and those who know boxing largely did believe that dropping down a weight class for the first time in several years ran a very high risk of hurting Dawson physically, and that appeared to be the case.
But I don't know if you can call it a "set-up," really. It was a money offer and Dawson took it. In some ways, it sounds like he didn't really think that the weight would be a big deal. He acknowledges now that it was. And again, a whole lot of pundits and fans and even fellow fighters thought it was too much of a risk.
The way I look at it, Dawson miscalculated the impact the weight loss would have on him, and the best you can hope for now is that it didn't mentally affect him too terribly moving forward. If it has, Adonis Stevenson is definitely a live dog on Saturday.