He was referred to by Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the world's best pound-for-pound fighter during Mayweather's short retirement. Four of his last six wins came over top names. When he took the title, he really took it.
He's the only man yet to beat Tomasz Adamek. He routed Antonio Tarver twice. And he came out the victor in a highly competitive and very entertaining fight against Glen Johnson last year. But somehow, Chad Dawson still doesn't seem to have mass respect.
Part of it lies with the fact that many feel Johnson deserved the W over Dawson. I scored that fight a draw, and still feel it's hard to really make a good case that Johnson was "robbed," but since that's been the story of Glen's career, it's an easy story to market from the Johnson side.
Part of it also stems from the fact that Dawson, despite being a very likable guy who makes for solid fights when not against the frustrating Tarver. He's unbeaten, has had good backing from both Showtime and HBO, and has honestly taken the best fights he could get. The Tarver rematch was a contractual thing, the Johnson rematch something he admittedly didn't want to go after, but when his hand was forced, he did it, and he vacated a title to make it happen. It was the only fight out there for him.
Someday, Dawson will move up in weight. He's talked about going down to 168, but that would probably just serve to weaken him. There are several who feel -- and I'm one of them -- that Dawson will someday compete at heavyweight, as his old foe Tomasz Adamek is now doing. A stop over at cruiserweight could offer some attractive bouts, too, and would help him bulk up naturally.
For now, though, he's a light heavyweight, and you can argue he's the world's best (I don't, at least not yet, with Bernard Hopkins still existing). And the rematch with Johnson tomorrow night can go a long way to earning him the accolades he's yet to fully acquire.
Make no mistake, it's no easy win. Johnson is probably still the most dodged man in the division, and at 40 has shown no real signs of slowing down. He's as tough as they come, a relentless sort who loves to mix it up, with a chin made of granite and heavy enough hands to put down anyone. Since the narrow loss to Dawson, Johnson has again found it hard to get proper opponents. He has faced Aaron Norwood and rematched Daniel Judah in the 19 months since the Dawson loss.
Dawson, who lives in New Haven, will have the home field advantage in Hartford, Connecticut tomorrow. His family and friends will be there, the XL Center will be almost 100% his fans, and the truth is, he's the younger, faster, more athletic, more dynamic fighter. He should win.
And if he doesn't, make way for 40-year old Glen Johnson, the continually-ignored, continually-great fighter that refuses to go away, no matter how many times it seems like promoters or TV networks wish he would.