Tonight Bloody Elbow presents live fight coverage of Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson on HBO. HBO Boxing After Dark: Dawson vs. Stevenson airs tonight, Saturday, June 8 live on HBO with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET. Bloody Elbow will have live fight coverage all night.
For this fight, the pressure rests entirely on the shoulders of one man. Chad Dawson is the significantly higher profile fighter here. He's the champion defending his belt against the division-jumping Stevenson. He's the favorite in the odds. Put it all together, and Dawson is the fighter to beat here.
He's also the fighter with something to prove. Dawson's past few fights have been a disaster for him in terms of public perception. Starting with a shameful No Contest against Bernard Hopkins (a No Contest largely caused by Dawson losing his composure), Dawson has been on a rough patch for the past two years. He followed that up with a terribly dull win over Hopkins, then was completely dismantled by Andre Ward. It's not that these are performances that create questions about his in-ring skills - the Hopkins win may have been boring, but it was technically sound, and there should be no shame in losing to Ward outside of your natural weight class. The problem is that they are performances that erode any fan interest in Chad Dawson. Dawson has created a stigma around himself of a boring fighter, and that is not a reputation that makes fans want to tune in. (And his recent comments that HBO set him up to lose in the Ward fight don't help matters)
So for Chad Dawson, a win tonight is not enough. If he wants to truly establish himself as a draw, he needs to win an exciting fight. But is that even possible?
Unfortunately for Dawson, I'm not sure that it is, particularly against Stevenson. An aggressive KO fighter, Stevenson is likely to push the pace against Dawson, looking for an early KO. If Stevenson is going to win this, he's going to do it in the first few rounds with an early surprise KO. Given that, there's no question about what Dawson's best strategy to win is here - use his technically superior boxing to drag Stevenson into the later rounds, then counter him and outbox him to a decision victory. That's the best path for a Dawson win, and it's almost surely what I expect to see from him tonight. The problem is, that's also a path to another boring performance - one that is not going to win him any fans or make him more of a draw.
So tonight, Chad Dawson finds himself trapped in a dilemma that many combat sports athletes face: win or entertain? The way to beat Stevenson is clear, but it won't entertain. With both a loss and a boring performance in his recent past, Dawson needs to decide for himself which is more important. And I suspect I know exactly what choice he'll make.
Prediction: Chad Dawson by (dull) decision
Join us here at Bloody Elbow for HBO Boxing After Dark Dawson vs. Stevenson results, discussion, and live fight coverage tonight, Saturday June 8.
DAWSON VS. STEVENSON FIGHT CARD:
Chad Dawson (31-2; 17 KOs) vs.
Adonis Stevenson (20-1; 17 KOs)
Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0; 16 KOs) vs.
Darleys Perez (28-0; 19 KOs)