If anyone thought that 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins was really softening with age, think again. The oldest champion in boxing history has already made clear his feelings on Chad Dawson, and is already attempting to get into the head of his October 15 challenger.
"You know how many times I fought with problems, and won? That's what separates certain athletes from others, that's the separation of me and him. ... Any adversity, he bails out. What happens in the ring when things don't go his way? I just have to give him some problems. We know what will happen. I already diagnosed him."
Hopkins (52-5-1, 32 KO) has had a career of many chapters, and the latest is the most remarkable of all, as he dethroned Jean Pascal to win the light heavyweight crown -- the real one -- on May 21 in Montreal, five months after many felt he'd won their first fight, which came back a draw in Quebec City.
Dawson (30-1, 17 KO) is coming off of a win on the same May 21 card, a 12-round decision over tough but fairly limited Adrian Diaconu. It was his first fight with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner, and given that Steward works well with some and not so well with others, the jury's still out. But we do know that Dawson has had major difficulty in two fights in his career. One was his first bout with rugged veteran Glen Johnson, a crafty guy who, like Hopkins, knows all the tricks of the trade. The second was his fight with Pascal in August 2010, where Dawson had his worst career performance and appeared lost at many times in the fight. After that, he took time off, hired Steward, and is now back in the running, with his biggest career fight coming up.
A win against Hopkins would be huge for Dawson, because B-Hop is still one of the best fighters in the game, and his age is really just nothing but a number at this point. But a loss could really damage Dawson, and Hopkins is known for his damaging effects on opponents. Is B-Hop trying to throw Dawson off his game by somewhat dismissing his credentials and the idea that this will be a challenging fight? Of course he is. It's what Bernard Hopkins does. He's a master at this. Hopefully for Dawson's sake, he doesn't get sucked in. With Steward, he's got a guy who knows Hopkins' career and tactics very well, and should be able to keep Dawson focused on the task at hand. But we'll find out.