Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) won his own unanimous twelve-round light heavyweight decision over Romania native, now Montreal resident Adrian Diaconu (27-3, 15 KOs). Both men had lost to headliner and champion Jean Pascal, Diaconu twice and Dawson once, his only loss to date. The judges scored the fight, 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112.
Pascal, who both men wanted to fight again, moved unceremoniously out of the way when he lost his WBC and Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight belts to the seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins, within an hour after Dawson polished off Diaconu.
The Dawson-Diaconu fight was a bit of a yawner during the rounds in which Diaconu didn't push the action or the American decided to jab his way to success. Dawson, sporting a bit of a new style that was more regimented and powerful than his most recent bouts, was able to control the fight, especially after his trainer and corner man Emanuel Steward scared the heck out of him.
Prior to the fight, Steward explained that he wanted to leverage his fighter's height advantage along with his punching power. There is still work to do however, despite the American's power punches increasing in both number and damage done.
Steward stepped in within the last 60 days to help Chad Dawson find the right blend of power and speed. This is their first fight together and Steward took advantage by sternly telling his fighter after a few rounds, that he was behind on the scorecards and without more aggression he would surely lose.
That was in spite of Dawson being ahead, at least on the scorecard of HBO-ringsider, Harold Lederman. It worked and Dawson came out more aggressive adding to his lead by hurting his opponent with a right hook in the fifth round. By the sixth round, Dawson was able to find Diaconu for combinations. The Canadian's face was red and swelling but he found another gear as he stunned Dawson in the ninth round, hurting him then tried to go for the kill in the twelfth.
After the fight, Dawson spoke of the partnership with his new trainer. "I've been with Emanuel for the past 7-8 weeks, and it takes time to get used to a new trainer. I knew I won the fight. I outthrew him and outlanded him. I wasn't nervous at all about coming to his hometown."
In the ring immediately after the decision was announced, Chad Dawson told HBO's Max Kellerman, "I obviously want revenge on Jean, but I want Bernard, too. It was a catch-22. I am happy to be back in the ring and get the ring rust off. Next time I will be 100 percent better." In less than a hour from that moment, Dawson found out who he was to face next.
ESPN's Dan Rafael noted that Pascal was booked to fight both Bernard Hopkins and Dawson according to the contracts for their first fights together. The Pascal-Dawson rematch had to take a seat for Pascal vs. Hopkins II, to accommodate HBO's desire to stage that one first. It was too compelling a match up after the controversial majority draw won by Pascal in December 2010.
In a bit of sportsmanship we haven't seen from Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins, their nasty pre-fight comments about each other melted away in the aftermath of what was an unambiguous win for the 46 year-old Hopkins. B-Hop praised his opponent's toughness and Pascal admitted defeat without equivocation.
The announcement of the time and place for the Hopkins' defense of his belt against Dawson won't take long to come.