The World Boxing Council last week ordered a rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and former titleholder Chad Dawson at its 49th annual convention in Las Vegas. The Hopkins-Dawson rematch order came two days after the California State Athletic Commission changed the result of their controversial October 15th fight in Los Angeles from a second-round knockout in Dawsonâ€™s favor to a no decision following Hopkinsâ€™ protest.
Originally, referee Pat Russell ruled Dawson a TKO winner after he lifted Hopkins up and dumped him to the canvas because Hopkins was draped over his back after missing a punch. Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury and could not continue. The WBC, which sanctioned the bout, had already kept Hopkins as its champion following the fight and now has ordered a rematch with the caveat of â€œunless their representatives mutually agree to another arrangement.â€ That means the two camps could try to make a deal or agree to do at least one interim bout.
Gary Shaw, Dawsonâ€™s promoter, was pleased with the WBCâ€™s decision. â€œI think justice has been served,â€ he told ESPN.com. â€œWhen Hopkins had a draw with Pascal, the WBC gave him an immediate rematch. And now they have done the same thing for Dawson after the controversy.â€
When Dawson thought he was champion after being declared the winner in October, he vowed not to give Hopkins a rematch. After the result was changed Tuesday, he said he wanted a rematch, but Hopkins said he would not fight Dawson again. Now that the WBC has ordered a rematch, Hopkins said he would take the fight, which might not actually happen because the first fight was such a commercial disaster that finding a network to put up the money required to make the fight could be very difficult. That is why the sides may agree to look for different fights.
Hopkins has now come to grips with the idea of a rematch. â€œLetâ€™s get the ball rolling,â€ Hopkins, told ESPN.com after leaving the convention. â€œThe fans got cheated because of circumstances in the first fight. Now they get an opportunity to get their moneyâ€™s worth. Itâ€™s been a really interesting 48 hours. Things are different now because of that (order). Letâ€™s get it on. The bottom line is a champion defends his belt. Thatâ€™s what champions do. I believe I am the best at light heavyweight. So my whole thing is champions defend, they donâ€™t get stripped, they donâ€™t throw belts away. Iâ€™ve done it for 20 years and I ainâ€™t changing my stripes today.â€
But, the fight will have to make financial sense, says Hopkins. â€œWhatever is best economically without having my belt stripped then Iâ€™m fine with that,â€ he said. â€œI duck no one. I never did. But if the fans and the people and the networks believe that Chad Dawson donâ€™t draw bees to honey — and this is a business — then that is what it is. Iâ€™ve earned this championship belt and I am not ready to leave.â€
The 46-year-old Hopkins insists that he is not fearful of rematches, as witnessed by his track record. â€œMy record speaks for itself. Iâ€™m normally victorious the second time round,â€ he said. After a draw with Pascal last December, he outpointed him in May to become the oldest fighter to win a world title. He then avenged a loss to Roy Jones last year.
Hopkins defeated Antwun Echols in a rematch of a prior win, twice defeated Robert Allen after their first bout ended in a no contest and knocked out Segundo Mercado to win his first world title at middleweight after their first fight ended in a draw. Only Jermain Taylor got the better of Hopkins in both meetings.
Hopkinsâ€™ promoter, Golden Boyâ€™s Richard Schaefer, however, is not in favor of the rematch with Dawson. â€œI think that there is no interest in this fight,â€ he told ESPN.com. â€œAs long as the fighters know that, and they are OK with whatever money there is, then why would I want to stop that fight from happening? I really just want to do fights the public would want to see and where I know going into the fight that it will be entertaining. I just donâ€™t think that these two styles mesh.â€