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Does Dawson Lack the Killer Instinct?

Antonio Tarver Chad DawsonBy Jason Kim: IBF light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson did enough to get another win over Antonio Tarver on Saturday night, but in beating Tarver by a 12-round unanimous decision, Dawson seemed to show the hallmarks of a fighter that lacks the killer instinct to seek out and destroy his aged opponent.

A couple of times in the fight, Dawson had Tarver hurt and instead of going after and taking out the old warrior with power shots, Dawson stuck to his boxing, and stayed on the outside where he pecked away at Tarver. Now if this was just a one fight anomaly then I could understand it happening.

However, Dawson has fought this way against Tarver in the first fight, and against Eric Harding and Tomasz Adamek as well. It seems as if Dawson doesn’t have the mean streak needed to finish off many of his opponents. Who knows?

Perhaps Dawson doesn’t know his own strength, and isn’t aware when he has an opponent hurt, therefore doesn’t go after them. But by not going after his opponents, whether hurt or not, Dawson is going to be ultimately holding back his own boxing career and keeping himself from ever being a huge superstar.

This isn’t England where Dawson would be embraced just for having an unbeaten record. Over here, the fighters like him are expected to entertain, to give the boxing fans their money’s worth by being willing to mix it up with their opponents in toe-to-toe combat. I don’t know if Dawson is effected by stamina issues or not, but he looked to be tiring in the last three rounds of the bout.

Still, Dawson should be willing to put it on the line in the first six rounds of the fight by letting his hands go and trying to take out his opponents. Even if Dawson does have stamina problems, which I’m not entirely sure of at this point, Dawson could probably take out most of his opponents in the first six rounds if he went full bore attacking them with nonstop power punches.

I have little doubt that Dawson could have knocked Tarver out on Saturday night had he upped the pace and attacked Antonio hard in the first six rounds. Dawson knew that Tarver was going to come at him, because he had said as much during the pre-fight press conferences, yet Dawson acted surprised after the fight by saying that Tarver had “thrown him off my game” by coming at him with a lot of pressure.

The pressure that Tarver was putting on Dawson was nothing compared to the kind of pressure that Glen Johnson was putting on Dawson in their fight last year. Dawson didn’t seem to like, although he was able to shut Johnson down each time Dawson would attack him with prolonged combinations. But for whatever reason, Dawson would suddenly stop punching and would let Johnson attack him for extended stretches of the fight.

Dawson may be looking at moving down to super middleweight due to the lack of big name fighters in the light heavyweight division. However, I don’t know if that will fix Dawson’s problem of not being able to finish his opponents off. At 168, Dawson would be facing a lot tougher opposition in Mikkel Kessler, Lucian Bute, Librado Andrade, Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell.

To beat those fighters, Dawson would have to be firing on all cylinders and would have to be willing to take any small opportunity that he gets. Dawson can ill afford to let fighters like them stick around for long and give them a chance to take over the fight in the late rounds when Dawson often times starts giving rounds away through inactivity.

It could be that Dawson has the same problem that afflicts Jermain Taylor, who starts off most of his fights looking great, but then tiring out and looking very average in the 2nd half of his fights. Dawson has better defensive skills than Taylor and better power as well.

I don’t think that Dawson’s stamina is nearly as bad as Taylor’s, but Dawson seems to have a habit of taking rounds off in the same way that Taylor does. If Dawson doesn’t fix these problems, he might be better off staying at light heavyweight.

Bute, Andrade, Kessler, Ward and Dirrell would take advantage of any drop off in punch volume by Dawson and would likely win enough rounds to beat him by a decision. I doubt any of them could hurt Dawson, but I do think that Dawson would be beaten by them if he were to fight the same way he did against Tarver.

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