20 Minutes With... Chad Dawson
For Chad Dawson, the time is now.
The 26-year-old southpaw toppled a pair of long-established 175-pounders in 2008
- defeating veteran Glen Johnson in a thrilling 12-rounder in April before returning to unseat reigning International Boxing Organization champion Antonio Tarver via one-sided unanimous decision six months later.
Dawson gets another crack at Tarver - who exercised a contractual rematch clause
- for the IBO and IBF belts on March 14 in Las Vegas, step No. 1 in what he hopes will be a year that ends with consensus recognition as the top light heavyweight in the world.
IBOBoxing.com caught up to the new champion for a quick question/answer session on Saturday, Jan. 30
- two weeks into his eight-week training camp to prepare for Tarver at the Palms Casino.
Q - Six weeks out from fight night, how are you feeling? Are you where you need to be at this stage of the process?
A - I feel good. I'm looking forward to the challenge of another fight and I'm always up for the challenge.
Q - When does training camp begin in earnest?
A - I've been out here two weeks already. We got started two weeks ago. We've got six weeks ahead of us and we'll be ready.
Q - Where are you weight-wise? Do you need to drop a lot of weight during camp?
A - I walk around at about 185 pounds and I'm already at 180 or 179 now. And by the time I get to the final week I'll be at 172 or 173. Actually, I need to keep eating to stay at 175 pounds. I could easily get down to 168 if there was opportunity for me there.
Q - How does it feel getting ready for Tarver again? Do you prepare any differently? Is it frustrating that you need to fight him again after winning so dominantly last time?
A - It's pretty much all we worked on last time. We just watched the fight over again and saw the things that worked, and we'll try to add some things to the game plan. It's not frustrating, really, but I just remember all the things that were said leading up to the first fight, with him saying I didn't deserve to be in the same ring as him, and I feel like I shouldn't have to give him a rematch. He's not capable of changing the result and he really already knows what he's going to feel again.
Q - Is it difficult to get motivated this time?
A - I'm motivated for all of them. A fight is a fight. We both want to win and stay on top and if I'm able to get a knockout this time, I'll be happy to get it.
Q - Were you surprised you were that dominant last time?
A - No, I knew I could be that dominant. I told everyone going in exactly what was going to happen and there's no reason that it won't happen again. I need to keep my mind straight on this one and then the bigger fights are going to come. I knocked him down in the 12 th round of the first fight and my mind is set on coming out there this time and finishing what I started.
Q - Assuming things go well with Tarver, what else is on the agenda?
A - There are only two names - Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe. I'd like to fight them both in 2009.
Q - How realistic is it that you'll get in a ring with either of them?
A - You know boxing. You can't assume anything will happen. He's on his way out the door, but I heard Calzaghe is interested in breaking Rocky Marciano's record of consecutive wins, so maybe he'll want to meet me along the way. If it happens it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't. I want to make the pound-for-pound list and I want to be recognized as the pound-for-pound king, so these are the fights I need. And if doesn't happen, I can always move down to 168.
Q - Do you need to beat one of them to get where you need to be in terms of recognition? And will beating Tarver again do anything to help you?
A - I definitely need to beat one of them to be recognized. I made my statement with the first fight but he wanted to do it again. But there's not much he can do to change things. I know he'll come out there and fight his heart out, but he did that the first time and this time it won't change things. He keeps saying that he's the master of the rematches.
Q - But he's really never fought a guy who beat him that badly the first time, right?
A - Exactly, that's my point.
Q - You had to give up the WBC title before the first bout with Tarver. Other fighters have complained about having to make mandatory defense in other classes, rather than pursuing what could be bigger and career-defining fights. As a fighter, is that frustrating to have to deal with?
A - Absolutely, you have a guy like Joe Calzaghe, who a lot of people consider the light heavyweight champion, and he doesn't hold a title and he's really never had a fight at 175 pounds. I can't see why they'd consider him the world champion. I had to drop the WBC title to get Tarver, but I have two belts now and I can't see how I'd not be deemed the champion ahead of anyone else.
Q - Where does the IBO title rank in your mind?
A - I'm proud to have two titles and proud to have the IBO belt. They recognize, more so than other places, I think, that the fighters make the fights. The big names make the fights. Not the sanctioning bodies. That's what people want to see, great fighters in the ring against each other. Bernard Hopkins hasn't held a belt in years, since he was a middleweight, and yet everyone knows he's a championship-level fighter because of the guys he's beaten. It's a good thing and a bad thing at times. To the guys who have belts, it's not a bad thing, because a lot of times that's what gets you in position to get into the big fights.
Q - Before the first Tarver fight, you wouldn't come right out and say you were the best light heavyweight in the world. Now that you've beaten him so decisively, has that changed? Are you the best fighter in the world at 175 pounds?
A - I don't want to toot my own horn, really, but I believe I am. And more than anything, I want to fight Bernard Hopkins or Joe Calzaghe by the end of 2009 to prove my point and show that I deserve to be in the top five of the pound-for-pound rankings. I may not deserve it now because I'm still kind of new, but that's the way I'm approaching. If I fight one of them and win, I'll be there.
Q - So many established fighters out there now are in their late 30s, or, in Bernard's case, even into their 40s. You're a 26-year-old guy. Do you see yourself fighting when you're that old, or do you have a finish line in your mind in terms of age?
A - I've got three kids that I want to be able to spend some time with, man. So no, I don't want to be fighting when I'm that old. I'm going to try and take care of business now so I can retire when I'm 30. That gives me 3½ years to get the big fights, make the right money and get out while I'm still a young man. If I can stay on top, which I plan on doing, I'll be able to close the book at that time.