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Dawson vs. Johnson on Saturday

Chad Dawson Glen Johnson LatestBy Dan Ambrose: Former IBF light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson (47-11-2, 32 KOs) will be challenging undefeated WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson this Saturday on the undercard of the IBF light heavyweight bout between champion Clinton Woods and former champion Antonio Tarver at the St. Peter Times Forum, in Tampa, Florida. Johnson, now 39, is four years removed from winning the IBF light heayvweight title against Clinton Woods in February 2004, a title that Johnson subsequently turned around and lost a year later to Antonio Tarver in June 2005.

The high point of Johnson’s 15-year career arguably would have to be his 9th round KO of Roy Jones Jr., who Johnson knocked cold in September 2004 bout. Johnson, a heavy slugger with a relentless style of fighting, has shown himself to be vulnerable to fighters with superb boxing skills, such as Tarver, Woods and Julio Cesar Gonzalez, all of whom beat Johnson by unanimous decisions. Johnson rebounded from his 12-round split decision loss to Woods in September 2006, and has since won three consecuitive fights, most notably his 11th round TKO of Montell Griffin in the IBF title eliminator bout in May 2007.

Since then, Johnson has fought two soft opponents, Fred Moore and Hugo Pineda, as he’s waited for his title shot against Dawson. Johnson looked especially good against Pineda, whom he battered around the ring for eight rounds before the bout was finally stopped at 0:49 of the 8th round. Johnson, though beginning to show some signs of aging, still had his awesome power and steady work rate.

Johnson’s power will be the key for him if he’s to have any chance at beating the 25 year-old southpaw Dawson, who is considered the best light heavyweight in the division. Dawson, however, is not without his weaknesses, as he’s been knocked down in his fights with Eric Harding and Tomasz Adamek. Apart from the knockdowns, neither Harding or Adamek were competitive with Dawson, for his combination of speed, foot movement and power was too much for them to deal with. In particular, Adamek, who was badly outclassed by Dawson in a fight that Adamek lost his WBA light heavyweight title in February 2007.

All the same, Dawson did show some stamina problems late in the bout against Adamek, seeming to tire around the 10th round, and looking concerned as Adamek kept coming forward despite the tremendous punishment that Dawson had inflicted upon him throught the course of the bout.

It will be interesting to see whether Johnson, and even slower fighter than Adamek, can take the kind of punishment that he did against Dawson and still coming forward. Dawson isn’t easy to hit, and is quite fast with his hands. If he’s allowed to hit without much return fire coming his way, he can most definitely end matters well inside the distance. It doesn’t matter how good Johnson’s chin is.

Dawson hits as hard, if not harder than Johnson, only with a lot more speed and with a much more constant rate than him. What makes Dawson even better, though, is the fact that he doesn’t get that often due to his slick defensive style which reminds me of a cross between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a young Roy Jones Jr. Johnson will have to be at his utmost best if he has any chance of beating a fighter as skilled as Dawson. Quite honestly, Johnson doesn’t have a prayer against Dawson. If Johnson can’t beat fighters like Tarver and Woods, both of whom Dawson would easily defeat, than what chance does he have against Dawson? None, in my humble opinion.

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