In order for Chad Dawson to be recognized as the best light heavyweight in the world, he needs to do more than dance around with forty-somethings. This Saturday, Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KOs) faces a real test as he battles Jean Pascal (25-1, 16 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
With Bernard Hopkins seemingly disinterested in continuing in the light heavyweight division, an empty throne now sits atop the division. After dispatching of 175-pound dignitaries Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson, the road to light heavyweight supremacy goes through Chad Dawson.
Despite scoring two wins over each of the elder statesmen, Dawson’s performances still seemed to be lacking. His tremendous speed advantage served him well in winning the fight, but did little to win him any new fans. His lack of box office appeal is now becoming a disadvantage to his fight game. If Dawson were a bigger name, there would be no way that he would travel to Jean Pascal’s hometown for this Saturday’s title unification bout. But since Dawson doesn’t draw very well, he now must enter enemy territory and deal with a historically-raucous fight crowd in Montreal.
Chad Dawson has already garnered respect amongst the boxing media. He’s a fixture on all top ten pound-for-pound lists. So what must Chad Dawson do to win the fans over?
An impressive victory over Jean Pascal would be a good start. Dawson has gone the distance with every meaningful opponent he’s ever faced. A convincing, thorough beating over Pascal will catapult Dawson to a new level of recognition.
Since moving up to the 175-pound division, Jean Pascal has gone 3-0. He’s young and athletic, something that Dawson hasn’t been matched up against since he became a world champion in 2007. While the advantage in speed may be up for debate, Dawson holds a distinct advantage in power. Dawson has never been one to engage and attack, but he doesn’t have to do that against Pascal. As long as Dawson adopts a killer instinct and closes the show, he won’t be thought of as merely a technically superior fighter. For a man nicknamed “Bad” Chad, he certainly doesn’t have much of an edge. In order to win the fans over, Dawson needs to live up to his nickname.
Every fighter runs across an opponent that brings a little more out him than others do. Chad Dawson hopes that Jean Pascal will be that guy for him. Pascal has the skill-set and crowd support to push Dawson to the edge. It will be how Dawson reacts when pushed to the edge that will indicate whether or not he’s ready to be considered a dominant force in the division.
The light heavyweight division needs a jolt. If Pascal were to defeat Dawson, that would absolutely send shockwaves throughout the division. But for Dawson to dismantle Pascal, in front of Pascal’s hometown fans, it would also send a powerful message to the rest of the boxing world. Dawson could rightfully assume his spot on the throne, proving he can rule with an iron fist.
If Chad Dawson jabs his way to a victory by decision, then he will leave the fight with the same number of fans that he entered with. And he will find himself traveling to his opponent’s hometown again in the future. Some guys can get away with underwhelming in-ring performances yet still find a way to endear himself to the fans. But Chad Dawson doesn’t have the charisma of Floyd Mayweather Jr or the impudence of Bernard Hopkins.
This is the time for Chad Dawson to not only prove he is the rightful heir to the light heavyweight throne, but to gain a new legion of fans to follow him.