Commentary

Dawson's streak snapped by Pascal

Originally Published: August 16, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Montreal
Light heavyweight
Jean Pascal tech. dec. 11 Chad Dawson
Wins vacant world light heavyweight title/retains a light heavyweight belt
Scores: 108-101, 106-103 (twice)
Records: Pascal, 26-1, 16 KOs; Dawson, 29-1, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Dawson was the 4-1 favorite. He was in the top few on most pound-for-pound lists, having decisively defeated the likes of Tomasz Adamek, Antonio Tarver (twice) and Glen Johnson (well, at least one of their two fights was a decisive win). And no less than Floyd Mayweather Jr. had hailed him as the future pound-for-pound king. So when Dawson, 28, of New Haven, Conn., went to Pascal's turf in Montreal because he is unable to draw a crowd in his home region, he was still expected to use his better skills, speed and three-inch height advantage to defeat Pascal. But that's why they fight the fights.

Pascal was the better man from the opening bell as he pulled the upset and did it in convincing fashion in front of an adoring throng at the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is one of the great boxing cities in the world these days, boasting such fighters as Pascal, super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute (who was ringside and could loom as an opponent for Pascal in the biggest fight in Canadian history) and rising star David Lemieux.

While Pascal, 27, fought with aggression and purpose throughout the fight, Dawson was passionless and unwilling to lay it on the line. Pascal was. What else would you expect from a guy who suffered three separate shoulder dislocations in his December rematch with Adrian Diaconu but still gutted it out to the final bell to retain his title before undergoing shoulder surgery? Pascal's rehabilitation delayed the mandatory fight with Dawson for months, but the shoulder seemed just fine in the fight.

Pascal, a 2004 Olympian, made the fight. He pressed forward and opened a lead by forcing Dawson into retreat. He had Dawson on the run in the seventh round after rocking him with a right hand to the chin and buckling his knees with another right hand moments later. He cracked Dawson with another solid right hand in the eighth and once again had Dawson hurt to the point that he had to hold to collect himself. Dawson did answer by stunning Pascal in the ninth, but Pascal was back on the attack in the 10th round in an inspired performance. In the 11th round, knowing he needed to win the last two rounds big because that's what his trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, pleaded with him to do in the corner, Dawson went for the knockout. He hurt Pascal, but Pascal has never been down and has shown a great chin throughout his career. He withstood Dawson's desperate attack before an accidental head butt opened a serious cut over Dawson's right eye. The blood was pouring from the cut and referee Mike Griffin, who did a fine job throughout the fight, called timeout to have the ringside doctor look at the injury. Although Dawson wanted to continue, the fight was called off because of the cut and sent to the scorecards for the technical decision.

The outcome was obvious as Pascal won to retain his alphabet title for the third time. More important, with Dawson ranked first and Pascal ranked second in most independent rankings, Pascal also claimed the Ring magazine world championship -- the lineal title -- which had been vacant since Joe Calzaghe's retirement.

Dawson, whose safety-first style can be maddening to watch -- which is perhaps why he couldn't sell out a fight in his driveway -- was filled with sour grapes afterward. He complained about Pascal's supposed head-butting being on purpose (yeah, whatever) and insisting that because he had Pascal hurt in the moments before the fight ended, he would have knocked him out later in the round or in the 12th. Nonsense. He got beat, plain and simple, and it was pathetic to hear him make excuses instead of giving Pascal the credit he deserved. Dawson had 10-plus rounds to do something against Pascal and he didn't. The better man, and the more crowd-pleasing fighter, won. Dawson's lack of fire and lack enthusiasm were painfully obvious and had to make you appreciate Pascal's energy all the more.

Dawson does have a rematch clause, but Pascal has the ability to take an interim bout first. If promoter Yvon Michel and Canadian competitor InterBox can somehow make a deal for him to face Bute, you're talking about a fight of gargantuan proportions in Canada. They'd need a stadium for the fight, not just a regular arena like the Bell Centre. What Dawson does next remains to be seen. Whatever it is, let's hope he comes to fight.

Saturday at Laredo, Texas
Lightweight
Miguel Vazquez W12 Ji Hoon Kim
Wins a vacant lightweight title
Scores: 120-108, 119-109, 118-111
Records: Vazquez, 26-3, 12 KOs; Kim, 21-6, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Kim, 23, of South Korea, made a lot of fans with his incredibly aggressive style in his ESPN2 appearances. But while he is quite fun to watch, he is not very skilled and it showed against Mexico's Vazquez, 23, who manhandled him for the lopsided victory in the "Top Rank Live" main event. Despite some head clashes that caused cuts, Vazquez outboxed Kim all the way and never appeared to be in much trouble despite Kim's constant -- but often ineffective -- pressure. With the victory, Vazquez claimed the IBF's 135-pound title, which has been vacant since February 2009, when Nate Campbell yielded it on the scale after not making weight for a defense against Ali Funeka. Vazquez now has a title, although it's hard to view him as an elite lightweight given his thin résumé. His only two defeats came on points to rising star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez -- including in his four-round pro debut -- who fights now at junior middleweight, and a 2007 points loss to future junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. Vazquez's most notable victory before the title bout came 13 months ago in his previous fight, when he claimed a split decision against Amir Khan conqueror Breidis Prescott. Kim's 13-fight winning streak came to an end.

Vazquez's winning a belt gives promoter Top Rank three titleholders: Vazquez, Miguel Acosta and Humberto Soto. Top Rank also promotes Marco Antonio Barrera, who is gunning for a title in the division. Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com that the company is looking to put on a tournament involving its three belt holders.

Featherweight
Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia TKO11 Cornelius Lock
Title eliminator
Records: Garcia, 23-0, 19 KOs; Lock, 19-6-1, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: Garcia is yet another in a long line of outstanding fighters nurtured by Top Rank and manager Cameron Dunkin from pro debut to top-notch prospect. Garcia, 22, of Oxnard, Calif., is the younger brother of former junior lightweight titlist Robert Garcia (his trainer) and may very well wind up being better than his kin. Garcia can fight and has had the look of a future champion for quite some time. By beating Lock, and doing it with relative ease, he took the next step. The victory set him up for a mandatory shot at Orlando Salido's belt, meaning an eventual fight with the winner of the Sept. 11 Yuriorkis Gamboa-Salido unification fight. Garcia patiently took a couple of rounds to figure Lock out and then it was off to the races. A straight right hand dropped Lock in the third round and things didn't get much better for him from there. Garcia was in control and dominating. Lock looked like he might quit at the end of the 10th round. His face was busted up all over and blood was spilling from various cuts and orifices. But he continued into the 11th, when Garcia put him away with a right hand that dropped him to his backside. He was a beaten man and referee Jon Schorle did not bother to count. It was an excellent performance from Garcia, a potential future star. Lock, 31, of Detroit, lost his second in a row and for the third time in four fights, the other losses coming on decisions to more established contenders Antonio Escalante and Daniel Ponce De Leon.

Saturday at Panama City
Bantamweight
Anselmo Moreno W12 Nehomar Cermeño
Retains a bantamweight title
Scores: 117-112, 115-113 Moreno, 115-113 Cermeño
Records: Moreno, 30-1-1, 10 KOs; Cermeño, 19-2, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: In March, Moreno traveled to Cermeño's native Venezuela and defended his 118-pound title, winning a tight fight on a split decision. The WBA ordered an immediate rematch and this time they did it in Moreno's native Panama, where Cermeño, 30, now lives. The result was the same: Moreno, 25, in his seventh title defense, won again by split decision in another close fight that was not very entertaining to watch. Moreno is a bit of a runner. He's accurate when he punches, but there isn't enough of them to make it interesting. Cermeño, who made his name in 2009 with a pair of decisions against Cristian Mijares, is a borderline dirty fighter. He regularly dives in with his head and throws low blows, which makes for messy fights. Referee Hubert Earle warned him for going low in the fourth round and the fight continued to unfold much like the first one with Cermeño trying to make the fight and Moreno moving, moving, moving. In the end, they produced another tough fight to score, but Moreno deservedly got the close nod again. Please, oh please, let there not be a third fight.

Middleweight
Gennady Golovkin TKO1 Milton Nunez
Wins a vacant interim middleweight title
Records: Golovkin, 19-0, 16 KOs; Nunez, 21-2-1, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: Golovkin, who lives in Germany, was a decorated amateur, winning a silver medal for his native Kazakhstan in the 2004 Olympics and defeating American super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell on his way to the podium. As a pro, the 28-year-old has been one of the sport's top prospects for the past few years, and when he got a chance to fight for a belt -- albeit one of the horrible WBA's hideous interim titles -- he cashed in big-time. Golovkin simply outclassed Nunez, 22, of Colombia, who looked like a rank amateur in the ring with him. Golovkin went right at him, rocking him with head shots almost immediately and knocking him down under heavy pressure. He got up and was unsteady, forcing referee Russell Mora to stop the fight at 58 seconds. Good performance from Golovkin, who could be a force in the middleweight division, although that's not really based on a win against such an obscure opponent. For what it's worth, Nunez's other loss was also by first-round knockout in 2008.

Saturday at Guasave, Mexico
Strawweight
Donnie Nietes W12 Mario Rodriguez
Retains a strawweight title
Scores: 119-109, 118-110, 116-112
Records: Nietes, 27-1-3, 15 KOs; Rodriguez, 10-6-3, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: What a joke of a title fight. Rodriguez, 21, of Mexico, had zero business fighting for a world title, even if the universe of qualified 105-pounders is small. He is now 1-1-2 in his past four bouts, and the one victory came against a guy who was 0-20-3. Can't blame Nietes. The 28-year-old Filipino fought who his people put in front of him. In this case, he went to Rodriguez's hometown and rolled to the decision in his fourth defense since winning a vacant belt in 2007. Three of the defenses have been in Mexico. He gave Rodriguez a bloody nose in the seventh round and hurt him with a body shot. Way behind, Rodriguez did close strong over the final four rounds as Nietes tired. He opened a cut over Nietes' left eye in the 10th round, but it wasn't enough to derail him.

Saturday at Norfolk, Va.
Heavyweight
Hasim Rahman KO6 Damon Reed
Records: Rahman, 48-7-2, 39 KOs; Reed, 45-14, 32 KOs

Rafael's remark: Former heavyweight champion Rahman, 37, of Baltimore, was crushed in seven lopsided rounds by Wladimir Klitschko in a December 2008 title challenge. It seemed to be the end of Rahman's career, but after a 16-month layoff, he returned. Now Rahman has notched three consecutive wins, all by knockout, against low-level competition as he tries to position himself for another money fight. Reed, 38, of Topeka, Kan., has racked up a ton of wins on the club circuit, but has always lost when he's stepped up in class. Against Rahman it was no different for Reed, who suffered his eighth knockout loss and lost for the third time in his past five bouts.

Friday at Ontario, Calif.
Heavyweight
Cristobal Arreola W12 Manuel Quezada
Scores: 118-107 (twice), 117-108
Records: Arreola, 29-2, 25 KOs; Quezada, 29-6, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Arreola entered the fight having lost two of his past three bouts. The losses came via a one-sided 10-round beatdown from Vitali Klitschko in a world title fight 11 months ago and a close but clear decision loss to Tomasz Adamek in April. The win was a lopsided knockout against Brian Minto, a gritty fighter with a big heart, but not a legitimate heavyweight contender. What Arreola needed in the "Friday Night Fights" main event against his fellow Mexican-American, Southern California fighter and former sparring partner was a victory and an impressive one, given that Quezada was not considered to be in his league. Arreola did get the win, but he was not impressive. Although Arreola, 29, knocked Quezada down twice in the ninth round and again in the 12th -- each of which came more from an accumulation of punches instead of one particular shot -- he did not do anything to make you believe he could rise again to the top of the division. He outweighed Quezada by 28 pounds, as Arreola, whose conditioning has always been suspect, was 5½ pounds heavier than he was against Adamek. He and his camp always talk about how he's going to improve his conditioning, but he hasn't. It's like a broken record. Even though Arreola landed 326 of 988 punches (33 percent), according to CompuBox, they seemed to be more arm punches than blows with serious steam on them. His punch output did clock in as the third-most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight in the 25-plus years that CompuBox has tracked fights, but Quezada landed 239 of 844 (28 percent), as Arreola was not hard to find, either. Despite the output, Arreola had some sluggish rounds in the middle of the fight, and he often looked plain disinterested. He said afterward that he hurt his left hand from the third round on and then his right hand in the ninth round. Still, this was not the kind of performance that will launch Arreola back into the title discussion. Don't expect to see him back on HBO any time soon. Quezada, 32, who has never beaten a notable opponent, lost his second in a row.

In an undercard bout, super middleweight Shawn Estrada (8-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian, knocked out fellow Los Angeles fighter Alex Armenta (7-2, 6 KOs) in 57 seconds for his second win in a month after being sidelined for more than a year because of a hand injury

Friday at Pico Rivera, Calif.
Junior lightweight
Eloy Perez TKO5 Derrick Campos
Records: Perez, 18-0-2, 5 KOs; Campos, 20-9, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: It was a dominant performance from Perez in the "Solo Boxeo Tecate" main event on Telefutura. Perez, 23, of Salinas, Calif., is a prospect coming along nicely. Golden Boy thought enough of him to put him on the May 1 undercard of the big Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley fight. Perez displayed a crisp jab to control Campos, 29, of Topeka, Kan. Perez was patient, especially for a young fighter, as he took it to Campos. They had some crowd-pleasing exchanges, but Perez was getting the better of them. He knocked Campos into the ropes early in the fifth round and was pounding around the ring when referee Jose Cobian stopped the bout at 2 minutes, 2 seconds as Perez was unloading blows and Campos was not answering.

Lightweight
Carlos Molina TKO5 Glenn Gonzales
Records: Molina, 13-0, 7 KOs; Gonzales, 7-2, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Molina, 24, of Norwalk, Calif., was the clear fan favorite and gave the fans what they came for: a dominant performance in a fight against Gonzalez, 25, of the Philippines. Molina, one of several Southern California Golden Boy prospects, opened a cut over Gonzalez's right eye on an accidental head butt in the third round. They slugged it out throughout the action-packed fourth round, but Molina, the more polished and sharper fighter, was getting the better of the exchanges. By the time the fifth round ended, Gonzalez had taken enough and retired on his stool, dropping his second fight in a row and giving Molina a solid victory in a fun fight.

Friday at Tampa, Fla.
Welterweight
Jesus Pabon TKO8 Ernesto Zepeda
Records: Pabon, 15-1, 9 KOs; Zepeda, 39-14-4, 34 KOs

Rafael's remark: Pabon, 30, of Puerto Rico, got off to a painful start in the Telemundo main event, hitting the deck twice in the second round after being nailed below the belt. In the third round, Zepeda, 33, of Mexico, was docked a point by referee Frank Santore for yet another low blow. And the low blows kept coming. Pabon went down from another shot below the belt in the sixth round, but did not a lose a point this time. All while Pabon was getting hit in the jewels, he was also dishing out head shots to Zepeda and doing damage. At the end of the seventh round, he dropped Zepeda virtually at the bell when he knocked him into the ropes. With the area under his right eye badly busted up, and having taken a lot of shots, Zepeda retired on the stool one second into the eighth round to end what had been a dirty fight. Zepeda lost his third in a row and dropped to 2-6 in his past eight.

Featherweight
Luis Franco TKO5 Yogli Herrera
Records: Franco, 6-0, 5 KOs; Herrera, 25-12, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Franco, of Miami, was a 2004 Cuban Olympian who defected last year and turned pro. Like many of his Olympic teammates, Franco has a ton of potential, a lot of amateur experience and needs to move quickly since he is already 28. Herrera is cannon fodder these days, as the 28-year-old Colombian lost his ninth in a row, but he had a good moment in the third round, scoring a flash knockdown on a wild left hand. Other than that, the fight was all Franco. He dropped Herrera in the fourth round and Herrera lost two points for twice holding excessively in the fifth round before being knocked down again by a straight right hand. Herrera made it to his feet but did not seem interested in continuing and referee Dennis DeBon called it off at 2:52 of the fifth round.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.