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World Champ Bernard Hopkins Readies For Challenger Chad Dawson

Hopkins and Dawson (credit: Tom Hogan Photos/Swanson Productions)

Hopkins and Dawson (credit: Tom Hogan Photos/Swanson Productions)

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Philadelphia (CBS)—Joe Hand’s Gym, on the corner of north Third Street, doesn’t exactly fit the picture of seedy, dingy boxing gyms you’d see on grainy black-and-white celluloid. It has a computer lab. Its equipment is modern, state-of-the-art, sterile, with ring posts that aren’t blunted rusting columns holding up sagging blood-stained moldy ropes. Large posters of past Philadelphia greats like Gypsy Joe Harris, Bennie Briscoe, George Benton and Joey Giardello adorn clean white walls.

In other words, it doesn’t exactly fit the throwback lion’s den where an anachronism like Bernard Hopkins would hone his ageless skills.

The WBC world light heavyweight champion showed off his wondrous craft before a live media contingent Tuesday afternoon at Hand’s Gym, preparing for yet another challenge, one that doesn’t exactly fit into Hopkins’ perfect scheme—Chad Dawson.

Hopkins and Dawson are scheduled to meet on October 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

It’s another risky fight for the 46-year-old future Hall of Famer. Dawson’s style isn’t conducive to what works best for “The Executioner.” Hopkins, 52-5-2 (32 KOs), likes aggressive fighters that come at him, not counterpunching lefties like Dawson, 30-1 (17 KOs), that are patient and not always willing to play along with Hopkins’ tactics.

“Chad Dawson has earned the right to challenge me for my titles, and I know he’s been looking for this fight for a long time,” said Hopkins, who beat Jean Pascal on May 21 to win the WBC light heavyweight world championship becoming the oldest fighter in recorded boxing history to win a major title. “You’ve got to be careful what you wish for, because believe it or not, I will be prepared once again to beat father time and show the world what I can do. Jean Pascal underestimated me and Chad Dawson better not do the same.”

A gaping difference between Pascal and Dawson is that Pascal had little or no endurance after the middle rounds. One big plus is that Dawson replaced legendary Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward a month ago with John Scully, a former mid-level pro who trained “Bad Chad” early in his career, and Winky Wright, a former world champion known for his defensive tactics, working his corner.

But Dawson has said he plans on coming out early and testing the older, grizzled Hopkins with a volume of punches. Hopkins shot any notion down that Dawson will overwhelm him with an early attack.

Hopkins, however, has not stopped an opponent since he delivered a vicious body punch that crumpled Oscar De La Hoya in the ninth round on September 18, 2004—over seven years ago.

“I feel on schedule and coming back so quickly from the May fight against Pascal, I feel like I’m fighting the 12th round as far as I’m concerned,” Hopkins said. “This feels good, it feels good to come back so soon without a nine-month gap, a 15-month gap. If Dawson thinks he’s going to throw more punches and win on the scorecards, I’m coming out in with an aggressive game and a smart game. They’ll see. I can walk away and be satisfied that I achieved all I can achieve.

“It’s going to be gratifying to be sitting there in my 60s and hear a commentator say, ‘He’s approaching Bernard Hopkins’ record,’ that’s what keeps me going. Ten, 15, 20, 30 years from now, it will be like I’m still boxing, fighting in the second half of my life.”

It has to be noted that Dawson’s lone loss came against Pascal, on August 14, 2010 by a technical decision. But it was a fight in which Dawson had a very turbulent training camp, and hardly trained at all, and Dawson was coming in the latter rounds when the fight was stopped and went to the scorecards.

Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito