feature Tuesday, 04 June 2013

John Scully: My fears for Chad Dawson ahead of Adonis Stevenson test

The light-heavyweight may have damaged himself against Andre Ward

'BAD' Chad Dawson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, has a point to prove to the boxing world on June 8 when he travels to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to not only defend his title against the local power punching favourite Adonis Stevenson, but to reconstruct a career that was dealt a devastating blow by the fists of the world’s best 168lber Andre Ward.

Having claimed the green belt for a second time with a majority decision victory over living legend Bernard Hopkins at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City last year, Dawson accepted the challenge of ‘Super Six’ winner Andre Ward in an intriguing clash down at super-middleweight.

After 10 brutal rounds inside the Oracle Arena in Wards hometown of Oakland, California, “S.O.G” had demonstrated his mastery over the naturally bigger man, dropping Dawson’s weight-drained frame to the canvas three times before he signalled he wanted no more of a rampant champion who retained his WBC and WBA titles.

Dawson pointed the finger of blame at his trainer, and former world-rated light-heavyweight, “Ice” John Scully and the pair parted company soon afterwards. 

Scully, initially speaking to this reporter when the news broke of their split, described a training camp riddled with disputes over the fighters physical wellbeing as he waged a constant war with the scales in an attempt to make the 168lbs limit.

“The fact is I will leave it to the world’s coaches and trainers to decide,” said Scully at the time, after Dawson questioned his teaching methods.

“On July 7 we got to Las Vegas and Chad weighed 182lbs. It was 111 degrees that day. Five weeks later on August 13 Chad weighed in after working out and was 184lbs. He somehow gained two pounds in five weeks after training, running up mountains or on the treadmill six days a week, sparring and dieting in plus-100 degree weather. I made my concerns very clear.”

Now, after a nine month absence from the ring where he reacquainted himself with his former trainer Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, Dawson prepares to defend his WBC title against the ferocious punching Adonis “Superman” Stevenson inside the Bell Centre in Montreal in a fight he simply cannot afford to lose.

“If he’s Superman, then I’m Kryptonite” said Dawson during a heated press conference to announce the fight. But the 31-year-old long limbed southpaw would be advised to take the challenger of Stevenson seriously as his former coach Scully explained to Boxing News.

“With his power, Adonis is a dangerous assignment for anyone in the world at any time in their careers. That power is a huge factor not to be overlooked here. It literally could be enough and I say that because of something Manny Steward told me the last time we really sat down and talked one night in Atlantic City in 2012. The discussion turned to Adonis and Emanuel got so animated talking about him, he told me that he had never seen anything like it, even with Tommy Hearns.  He said that in the gym it was a thing where Adonis would spar guys and they would experience lasting pain and injuries whenever he hit them. Not just jaws and ribs, but elbows, collar bones and hips, too.”

“Now you add that to his current momentum, to the point in both of their careers and you factor in the thousands of screaming hometown fans in attendance and it’s a big edge he has going for him.  It will all depend on how well Chad can deal with all that at this point in his career but I would say coming off the Ward fight he has no choice but to be at his 110 per cent best.”

Stevenson, 35, avenged his sole career loss to date when he starched super-middleweight gate keeper Darnell Boone in six rounds in March. And despite him being the fighter coming up in weight Adonis will, on paper, be the puncher of the two but Scully explained that his former charge has the tools to defuse that shocking power if he chooses to use them.

“It’s absolutely no secret what needs to be done here. Boxing is all about taking each particular boxer and using his strengths in a way that combats his opponent’s strengths and takes advantage of his weaknesses. It’s exactly why Buster Douglas chose the strategy against Mike Tyson that he chose. No time for carelessness that night. Same thing here. Chad has certain abilities and physical gifts that go hand-in-hand with defeating a guy with the style and power of Adonis Stevenson. The drama and excitement of the night will be to see if he can still utilise and execute them.”

No fighter enjoys making weight, but when they have starved themselves, endured countless late night treadmill sessions then taken a hammering in the contest itself, as Dawson did against Ward just nine months ago, can they ever be the same again?

“Theoretically you would have to assume that Chad will be a hundred times stronger and sharper and more mentally aware and motivated than he was against Andre Ward,” said Scully

“Making weight was very hard for him and done in a way that could have terrible and permanent effects on the body. By the same token, even an all-time great like Roy Jones never really recovered from something similar after returning to light-heavyweight back in 2004 after beating John Ruiz.  The lasting physical and psychological effects this has had on Chad - if there is any - can only possibly be determined one way. No one, Chad included, will really know until around half way through the fight with Adonis.”

One fighter who will have a keen eye on the outcome of the June 8 clash is Britain’s Tony Bellew after his final eliminator victory over Isaac Chilemba in London secured him at shot at the winner.  “Bomber” upped his game against Buddy McGirt’s charge following a draw between the pair in March but to step up again and defeat either Dawson or Stevenson would be a huge ask for the 30-year-old.

“I think Tony is a very, very solid fighter but both guys are going to be a big step up for him,” commented Scully.

“Adonis and his power are always going to be a concern and I’d have guessed that Tony hasn’t fought anyone amateur or pro with the kind of kick that Adonis has so he would have to fight an extremely disciplined fight to have a real chance. As far as Chad, when Chad was at his physical and mental best he had the style and size to be a real puzzle for anyone out there and I’d think he’d have solved Tony, too. This fight on June 8 will tell us if that remains true.”

Get this week's Boxing News - available on Wednesday - for a full preview of Dawson-Stevenson

Author : Danny Winterbottom


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