Bernard Hopkins' first defense in works
New light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who made history Saturday by outpointing Jean Pascal in their rematch to become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title at age 46, is wasting no time setting up his first defense.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter, and Gary Shaw, who promotes mandatory challenger and former titleholder Chad Dawson, began negotiating the fight on Wednesday, they both told ESPN.com.
"Richard called me and said he wanted to discuss making the fight and I was excited because we were on the same page," Shaw said. "We talked about places we could do the fight, but we want to do the fight wherever we can make the most money. He agreed.
"We said we would both get on the phone with HBO on Monday and try to lock in a date. We basically have our deal done. We agreed to a split (of the revenue) and we agreed to a deal in concept."
Dawson outpointed former titlist Adrian Diaconu on Saturday's undercard to earn the title shot against whomever won the main event. That was Hopkins, who Dawson has been chasing for the past couple of years.
Dawson's only defeat came last August in Montreal via an 11th-round technical decision to Pascal. Dawson had the contractual option for a rematch in the event he lost, but Pascal was allowed to first take an interim bout. He took it against Hopkins in December and they fought to the draw.
In order to allow Pascal and Hopkins to fight again, Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) and Shaw stepped aside. But under the terms of the deal, Dawson, 28, of New Haven, Conn., was guaranteed a fight with the winner as long as he won his undercard fight with Diaconu.
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Those hurdles are clear now and the camps are working on the fight, which would take place in the fall at a site to be determined.
"The reason why the (Hopkins-Pascal) rematch happened is because Gary and Chad were supportive," Schaefer said. "They could have made a stink about it but they didn't. It was a very tricky negotiation in order to get Bernard the rematch with Pascal. Now Dawson deserves his shot.
"Gary and me had conversations before to work things out so Bernard could get the rematch with Pascal. All of those discussions should make it easy to get things into motion and get the fight between Bernard and Dawson done. I am very positive it will happen. It's the fight Bernard wants and the fight Chad wants. So Gary and me are talking about it."
Schaefer said several sites are interested in hosting the bout.
"I got a call (Wednesday) from (a venue in) Las Vegas and they are interested. (Thursday) I had lunch with the people from the Staples Center (in Los Angeles) and they are interested as well," Schaefer said. "I have talked to (Pascal promoter) Yvon Michel about going back to Canada. Atlantic City is interested as well. There is a tremendous buzz about Bernard Hopkins after he did what he did. The big rating HBO did means millions of people saw Bernard in one of his best performances. People want to see Bernard back."
HBO reported this week that the live telecast of Hopkins-Pascal II drew 1.8 million viewers, making it the network's most-watched fight since the 2009 heavyweight title bout between Vitali Klitschko and Cristobal Arreola.
Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), now in his second reign as light heavyweight champion, is enjoying a victory lap after going to Pascal's hometown of Montreal and scoring the historical victory. He is visiting ESPN headquarters in Bristol on Friday to make various appearances, including as the studio guest for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
On Wednesday in Hopkins' hometown of Philadelphia, mayor Michael Nutter will honor him with a noon public ceremony at the famous "Rocky" statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Even though Hopkins has been busy making the media rounds since breaking George Foreman's record as the oldest fighter to win a title, he also was thinking about the impending fight with Dawson.
"I have to honor my agreement with Chad first," he said of potential fights. "It's me and him next."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.