By Travis Stahl
I heard somebody say one time that if you want to see good boxing the only place to see it is on ESPN Classic. That statement isn’t exactly true but more and more it seems to be the case as boxing declines in popularity. Fortunately for fans of boxing there are still occasional matches that are worth watching and Saturday’s Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins was one of them.
Dawson is in the prime of his career and Hopkins is 47 years old so, on the surface this fight looked like it could have been bad, especially since last year the two fought and it ended in a draw after Hopkins got hurt. Dawson did something early in the fight though that changed the complexion of the things and turned the fight into a classic. Dawson was drawn in to Hopkins dirty style of fighting for the first three rounds. Coming out for round four Dawson decided to ignore Hopkins’ holding, grabbing, pushing, pulling, head butting and general debauchery and just started punching.
In most fights Hopkins is able to thoroughly confuse his opponents with his slow down fighting. Hopkins’ opponents get so flustered they forget about fighting, Dawson didn’t. In round four Dawson made the decision he was going to just punch Hopkins any time he could. If Hopkins grabbed an arm, Dawson hit him with the other one. When Hopkins tried to tie up Dawson he would step back and put a jab right on Hopkins’ head.
Dawson won the fight on the scorecards to earn back the title he lost last year and clearly established himself as an elite fighter. Boxing needs Dawson right now more than it needs a 47-year old Hopkins. Superstars in boxing are few and far between. If you like the Klitschko brothers than you get to see some decent fights although they fight exclusively in Europe now. Other than Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather there are few big-name boxers anymore. As the popularity of mixed martial arts rises it continues to draw athletes away from boxing that is why it was so refreshing to see a good fight.
Boxing is not dead yet as Saturday showed. There are still great fighters entering the ring on a regular basis we just need more of them. Dawson and Hopkins showed how entertaining the sport can be when two big names get in the ring together. For me, the best part about Saturday’s fight was that neither fighter kicked, threw elbows put on a submission hold or got the other guy to tap out. Saturday was just pure boxing.