There is two ways that Adonis Stevenson can win this fight:
- He catches Dawson with a big shot, and even if he doesn't knock him out on a single blow, Dawson can't recover and survive the round, leading to a referee stoppage.
- Dawson is haunted by the bad loss to Andre Ward, doesn't have himself righted mentally, and gets into one of his funks, the type that make him look a much worse fighter than he actually is.
Dawson is a lot better than Stevenson, a rudimentary power puncher who can bang, and that's about it. Maybe Emanuel Steward would have been able to bring something more out of him, but that's no longer a possibility. Stevenson has plowed through a lot of guys thus far, but none of them are even close to Dawson's level. If Dawson doesn't beat himself, this one is money in the bank for him. I'm going to take the safe choice and assume he hasn't already lost the fight. Dawson by wide decision.
This is, for me, the most intriguing fight of the weekend, and there's huge question marks over the heads of both men here. Dawson, first praised, and later criticised for being willing - or, coerced, blackmailed, or whatever it is he's saying these days - to go down to 168 to fight Andre Ward, is one of those rare beasts: a fighter that's both enigmatic and yet, somehow, seemingly quite dull. He'll be under plenty of scrutiny in this, his return to the division with which he runs a lineal rule over.
Stevenson, despite talked about in some quarters as though he's some kind of heavy-handed young upstart, has what's perhaps his first and last shot at a fighter of Dawson's calibre, with a world title on the line. At 35 years old, he hasn't got much time to waste, and should he lay an egg here, it could be a long road back for him, into this kind of contest, at least. The likely problem for Chad Dawson is that Stevenson rarely does, and he hits like a mule. Much like Josesito Lopez is doing this weekend, Dawson is coming off a beatdown last time out and returning against a pure power puncher. Dawson's lack of punch resistance against Ward - for whom knockouts have been a rarity in recent years - can perhaps be attributed to the weight drain. Here though, even against a guy who's stepping up a division, as Stevenson is, it's likely to be the deciding factor.
Dawson's got a reputation for coasting his way through his contests again, against opponents who'll let him do so. It feels unlikely that, unless Dawson's better technical ability bamboozles Stevenson completely, he'll be able to do so here. But fighting on the road, against a more exciting fighter, off the back of a heavy loss - surely anyone picking Dawson won't be doing so with any firm degree of confidence. Stevenson by SD.
I'm not at all sold on Stevenson, he obviously has one punch knockout power but has feasted on journeymen and c-level opposition. There's a hell of a jump up in class from the likes of Noe Gonzalez Alcoba to Chad Dawson. Throw in the defeat he suffered against Darnell Boone in 2010 and you can easily come to the conclusion that he's not got the best of chins and has been matched carefully.
The big question is how Dawson will look after his brief dalliance with the super-middleweight division. He not only got beaten by Andre Ward, he got dropped numerous times and was on the end of a beating. That beating, along with the way he dehydrated his body to make weight, could have a long-lasting effect on Dawson.
If the Dawson of old turns up then he should have way too much for Stevenson to cope with. Dawson's got advantages in speed, footwork, defence, movement, experience and general ring craft. If the defeat to Ward has stirred up some passion in Dawson, I could see him being more aggressive than normal and stopping Stevenson early. He will most likely keep the fight long, though, and will outbox Stevenson to win on points. Dawson 119-109.