The WBC and RING light-heavyweight belts will be at stake tomorrow night when Jean Pascal (25-1, 16 KOs) faces Chad Dawson (29-0, 17 KOs) in Montreal, Canada. Aside from titles, the clash will determine who the man to beat is at 175 pounds.
Chad Dawson became a world-recognized player overnight back on February 2, 2007 when he outfoxed Tomasz Adamek to win the WBC light-heavyweight strap. After two defenses in 2007, Dawson relinquished the belt to go on a seniors tour fighting four fights with Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver in 2008-2009. Both men were 39 years old at the time of the 2008 fights. Johnson deserved a rematch after a close first fight, but Tarver got his on boxing politics as the IBF ordered an immediate rematch.
Except for the 2008 Johnson fight Dawsons bouts for the last two years have been pedestrian affairs. For the first time since Adamek Bad Chad has a talented fighter close to his age to prove himself against.
Dawsons best attributes are hand speed and movement. He establishes distance early on and keeps opponents wary of his fast straight left hand. The Connecticut southpaw also knows when to explode with quick combinations and get back out of range before an opponent can retaliate. This was very clear in his last three fights; neither Johnson nor Tarver could keep up and were reduced to reaching in vain to land single Hail Mary shots.
27 year old Canadian Jean Pascal has rebounded well from his 2008 decision defeat to Carl Froch at super-middleweight. He made his light-heavyweight debut with an impressive points victory of previously undefeated and hard-puncher Adrian Dianconu. He followed up with a 10th round TKO of Silvio Branco and another decision over Diaconu.
Pascal has shown the ability to box outside and hold his ground with inside exchanges. His favorite combination from the outside is the jab-straight right. If his realizes an opponent is slower than him, hell occasionally lead with a left or right hook. At his best, Pascal does very good work to the body; digging hooks around his opponents guard and making them open upstairs in the later rounds. That is how he scored his most recent KO in 2009 against Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas.
For Pascal to retain his WBC title and beat Dawson, hell have to follow Glen Johnsons 2008 blueprint. Pascal is the slower man, and if he tries to get into a jabbing contest from the outside hell lose every time. However, Pascal is the superior inside-fighter. Dawson has the tendency to simply cover up when attacked. That gives ample opportunity for Pascal to work his hooks to the body up close. In addition, it will also give him countering opportunities upstairs if Dawson elects to trade as he did with Glen Johnson. Jean Pascal must focus on these tactics to take away Dawsons movement and get him out of the potshotting routine hes enjoyed in his last three fights.
Of course, Chad Dawson wants to do the exact opposite. Bad Chad has a better 1-2 (jab-straight left) in both speed and snap than Pascal. At a distance Pascals chances of victory are very slim. And if the champion is bold enough to launch a lead left or right hook, Dawson would be able to easily counter. From the outside Dawson can pick his spots regarding when to pounce with combinations or simply outbox Pascal behind his jab.Emmanuel Steward predicted this fight would be a technical. That usually translates as the boxing equivalent of a chess match, and its a stance I agree with.
The early rounds will be tight with few punches thrown. Neither guy will want to take many chances. Those types of rounds are usually given to the boxer who is busier with his hands, especially a fighter who likes to throw flashy combinations several times a round like Chad Dawson. However, this could be nullified by the fact Pascal will be fighting in his hometown and getting cheered wildly for every punch that lands.
Chad Dawson is the better ring general and I believe in most rounds hell be the fighter dictating the pace and having Pascal on the defensive. Like Dawson, he freezes when punched at and normally waits until his opponent has stopped throwing completely before hell launch a retaliatory shot. More often than not, that habit will have him punching at air against Bad Chad. Pascals best moments will be when he attempts to rough Dawson up on the inside with hooks to the body. But I dont think Pascal has the mentality nor the skill to get Dawson in that situation round after round like Glen Johnson did in 2008.
My prediction for this fight is Chad Dawson wins a competitive by clear decision over Jean Pascal, 8-4 in rounds. The atmosphere is going to be great, but its more a fight for the boxing purists who like to study strategy rather than a contest youd invite friends over for.
The card kicks off tomorrow night on HBO at 10:30PM. Check out Beats, Boxing and Mayhem following the telecast for a comprehensive review.
Officials for Tomorrow Night
Referee Michael Griffin (Canada)
Judge Jack Woodburn (Canada)
Judge John Keane (England)
Judge Gerald Dayton Ritter (Oklahoma)
Chris Arreola Returns Tonight on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights
Mexican heavyweight Chris Arreola returns to the ring tonight to face Manuel Quezada (28-2, 25 KOs) in a stay busy fight.
Arreola have been hit with a lot of well-deserved criticism for coming into fights out of shape. For most of his career it was not a problem with overmatched opponents. But those bad training habits did him no favors when he lost his two biggest fights in the last year to Tomasz Adamek and Vitali Klitschko, the latter being his first title shot.
He claimed that all those issues were behind him and that he would be in shape for tonights matchup.
The main thing is that Im in shape, he stated. Ive only missed two days of gym, and thats because my house almost caught fire and the other because it was my brothers birthday. Other than that I havent missed one day. Im rededicated to the boxing game. Boxing is a jealous sport; if you dont treat it good its going to turn around and slap you in the face.
Its telling that Arreola didnt disclose his weight in his statement. In May he weighed 250 pounds against Tomasz Adamek. Its a fight he says he wasnt focused for.
But at the weigh-in yesterday he came in at 256 pounds.
See below to read an article I penned earlier this week regarding Arreola. Hes a likable guy outside the ring, but in the ring I think weve already seen the limits of his potential. If he couldnt motivate himself to get in-shape with HBOs backing, its not surprising that he wont now.
He may never become a champion, but Arreola does deliver brawling, fan-friendly fights. And perhaps that is enough, especially in the heavyweight division.
Tonight's ESPN2 card begins at 9PM ET.
New & Notes
Ismael AbduSalaam is a freelance journalist and senior staff writer at AllHipHop.com. His work can also been seen daily at Beats, Boxing and Mayhem (http://beatsboxingmayhem.wordpress.com/)