Cleverly and Bellew call Hopkins vs Dawson II
Two men guaranteed to be tuning in to this evening’s blockbuster WBC world light-heavyweight clash between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson are Frank Warren Promotion’s brace of world class 175-pounders, WBO king Nathan Cleverly and British champ Tony Bellew.
Both will be itching to secure a future date with whoever of prevails in Atlantic City. Here, they provide their take on how the blue-chip BoxNation televised dust up is likely to pan out.
Nathan Cleverly: ‘Father Time will get Hopkins tonight’
‘I think Hopkins is a great fighter. He’s very clever technically and his movement around the ring is always top class. He’s exceptional at taking away an opponent’s strengths. Above all, he knows how to win fights. Whenever he needs to step it up he always can. He usually does just enough to get his hand raised.
‘Dawson is also a quality fighter. For a start, he’s southpaw and that always causes problems. He’s also very big for the weight and can be very fast and explosive when he opens up. Unlike several of Hopkins prior opponents, I don’t think Dawson will be spooked by Hopkins attempts to get into his mind. Dawson appears a pretty cool customer and, at elite level, I think the top guys know how to handle the pressure. They don’t really get intimidated.
‘I definitely don’t expect a knockout. Both are very clever counterpunches, better suited to opponents who walk on to them. I don’t expect either to be particularly assertive. It’ll be a cagey stand up and they might neutralise each other.
‘For Hopkins to win, he needs to mess Dawson about a bit, cause him to fluster. Sometimes Chad can be prone to lapses in concentration and that can hurt him. Jean Pascal appeared to break his heart.
‘When Hopkins throws his right hand, he tends to lunge in. He still usually manages to land it then he falls into a clinch and holds. I think he’ll be looking to win rounds by spoiling Dawson’s work and doing as little as he can, to conserve energy. He knows he’s older and has more miles on the clock.
‘However, he definitely likes to operate at his own pace and gameplan, and seems troubled by those with speed who can keep it intense. In their first fight, I thought Dawson commanded centre ring and, though there wasn’t much action, he looked the boss in there.
‘For Chad to be victorious, he needs to hold the centre of the ring again, really snap his jab and force Hopkins to move around. He doesn’t need to set a crazy workrate, just continually stay one or two points in front.
‘In this fight, I think Father Time might finally catch up with Hopkins and, provided Dawson turns up hungry, enthusiastic and switched on, I think he pulls it off. Dawson on points, for me.’
Tony Bellew: ‘Bad Chad has a nasty streak, it’s his time’
‘I’m really looking forward to this. I think it’s going to be far more entertaining than Hopkins’ fights usually are because this time he’ll be made to fight. Dawson will force him to be more aggressive than he normally is. We’ll find out how much Hopkins still really wants it.
‘Dawson’s massively underrated. On his day, I believe he’s the best light-heavyweight in the world. He’s a well-schooled southpaw who can sustain a very high pace. Also, though he hasn’t got a ridiculous amount of stoppages on his record, I think he hits far harder than people might realise. That’s why opponents never attack him much. He’s usually the one dominating the centre of the ring, driving the other fella back. I believe he’d have stopped Jean Pascal if that fight had been allowed to run its natural course. (Bad Chad lost an 11 round technical decision when the fight was halted because he incurred an accidental cut and was unable to continue).
‘In the brief time that their first fight lasted, I felt that Chad Dawson’s speed and workrate were having a massive affect on Hopkins, who failed to impose himself and push Dawson back. In previous fights, Hopkins’ opponents have been a bit intimidated, shown him way too much respect.
‘I’ve studied Hopkins for a long while. What he’s achieved is absolutely amazing. His biggest attributes are his mental toughness, his determination and his conditioning.
‘He’s pretty good all round without having any serious strong points, technically. I couldn’t say he’s brilliant in any one area. He’s good inside and a fantastic athlete. No one can live with him in a pure boxing contest. He comes from exceptional angles and is probably the best counterpuncher in the higher weights. Andre Ward today reminds me of the Bernard Hopkins of 10 years ago.
‘Above all, B-Hop has a great boxing brain, exceptional gameplans, always finds a way. One thing I’ve picked up is that he always improves in rematches, if he’s struggled with an opponent previously.
‘On the downside, he doesn’t like to fight at a pace. I believe the loss to Joe Calzaghe was entirely down to himself because he failed to put his foot on the gas over the last few rounds. He likes to be allowed to control and dictate the pace and Calzaghe never allowed that. At his own pace - the tempo he set in the Tarver, Pavlik and Pascal fights - Bernard’s pretty untouchable.
‘I believe Dawson is a very dangerous opponent for him. For a start, Chad’s very hungry and I think he has a nasty streak. I think he harbours a genuine dislike of Bernard Hopkins. He won’t be intimidated one iota and he appears very fired up to show Hopkins who’s the man.
‘The type of fighters to trouble Dawson are the explosive ones. Chad does like to get into a rhythm and I don’t think he copes with aggression very well. Pascal enjoyed success by attacking him in bursts, springing two phase attacks, not allowing him to settle.
‘But I think this is a very hard fight for Hopkins and could see the end of him. For Hopkins to win, he has to rough Dawson up, really let him know he’s in a fight but age catches up with everybody and, though he’s very good at tying opponents up, I don’t think he can really fight beyond a minute and a half each round. It’ll go to points but I see Dawson as a clear winner.’
Watch Hopkins v Dawson live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky 456, Virgin 546) from 2am Sunday morning, April 29. Join at www.boxnation.com