Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jean Pascal Dethrones Chad Dawson in Montreal

The same city to host the great light heavyweight classic between Yvon Durelle and Archie Moore over 50 years ago again held a surprising matchup at 175 lbs. Only this time, Canada came out on top.

Recent light heavyweight kingpin "Bad" Chad Dawson snoozed his way to losing his undefeated record and Ring Magazine title to former super middleweight contender Jean Pascal on Saturday night. The 3-1 underdog Pascal stole the show en route to an 11th round unanimous technical decision win, with the fight being stopped due to a cut over Dawson's right eye that was caused by an accidental headbutt. 

Pascal, now 26-1 (16), just happened to also be defending the WBC belt that Dawson dropped in 2008 to face former champ Antonio Tarver, though Dawson was widely regarded as the best light heavyweight in the world until tonight.

Dawson, an amateur standout and Pound-for-Pound list entrant as a pro, fell to 29-1 (17), with 1 No Contest. 


A lively crowd at the Bell Center roared in support of Pascal from the moment he did his ringwalk. 

From the opening of the bout, Chad Dawson seemed to have trouble with Pascal's decision to lay back and wait for opportunities to jump in with looping rights upstairs and to the body. If Pascal's surprising handspeed and erratic movement weren't difficult enough for Dawson to deal with, the pro-Pascal crowd got louder every time Pascal surged forward and threw, whether he landed or not.

Through the first few rounds, Pascal hadn't done much damage to Dawson, but the former champion appeared content to offer up only the occasional straight left or right hook, generally not in combination, from his southpaw stance. While Pascal's work wasn't devastating, he did manage to stun Dawson from time to time and control the pace, likely winning most early rounds.

Dawson's trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad implored his fighter to punch more, and warned him in the corner that he wasn't doing enough to win rounds in front of his opponent's fans. 

Mustafa's advice was followed in a few middle rounds as Pascal looked tired and slowed down noticeably. Dawson was able to pick up his pace and find Pascal on the ropes, showing off impressive accuracy and a solid defense. 

Pascal buckled Dawson in the 7th and 8th rounds, both times with right hands. Dawson's defensive clinching in close drew a warning from referee Michael Griffin, though he mounted an attack of his own in each round. 

The 10th round began differently as Pascal grew fatigued and Dawson unleashed hard combinations, continuing his onslaught into the 11th. Pascal looked ready to take a knee in the round 11 as Dawson eagerly swarmed and overwhelmed him on the ropes. Dawson's tenacity may have wound up hurting him, however, as the fighters' heads collided and produced a nasty cut over the right eye of Dawson towards the end of the stanza. 

The fight was ultimately stopped by the ringside physician, who ruled Dawson would not be able to continue as a result of the accidental headbutt. 

Rules of the fight stated judges were to score the incomplete 11th round in addition to the first 10. Despite Dawson's plea for a few minutes more, judges awarded Pascal the decision by scores of 108-101, 106-103 and 106-103. 

While the majority of the boxing world ate crow immediately following the fight, Dawson preferred sour grapes, as he complained about the quick stoppage while being interviewed by HBO's Larry Merchant. "Bad" Chad also offered up a variety of excuses following phrases like "I'm not gonna make any excuses, but...", and avoided questions regarding his lack of activity in most rounds. When asked what his immediate plans were, Dawson referenced the rematch clause in the fight contract.

Pascal expressed interest in a potential mega-fight in Montreal with popular super middleweight Lucien Bute after the fight, as well as a showdown with fellow light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud, while seeming to bask in the glory of his upset win. 

With Romanian-born Lucien Bute, Haitian Jean Pascal and UFC star Georges St. Pierre calling Montreal home, the city seems to have cornered the market on the 168-175 lb. portion of combat sports for the time being. And a Pascal vs. Bute scrap would mean fight fans of "La Belle Ville" would get to have their poutine, and eat it too.


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