Updated: Oct 11, 2019
After a two-year hiatus from the squared circle, former two-time light heavyweight world champion “Bad” Chad Dawson has returned to action in 2019. On Friday, he’ll be facing off against Denis Grachev of Russia at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT. The bout will headline a boxing card broadcast on UFC Fight Pass.
In March of 2017, Dawson (35-5, 19 KO) suffered a defeat at the hands of Andrzej Fonfara via 10th round TKO. After the loss, Dawson and his family decided to re-evaluate his fighting career.
“My wife and friends told me that maybe I need to take a little time off from boxing,” said Dawson.
“I listened to it and I took two years off. By the time the two years was up, I was ready to get back in the ring. I was sitting around watching fights and other light heavyweights, knowing that I can beat these guys. It energized me to want to get back in the gym, start running, start working out. I started doing that, made a few phone calls and got a date for a fight.”
At 36-years-old, and two years removed from the ring, Dawson was poised to fight Quinton Rankin in June 2019. Dawson was victorious in his comeback fight, winning via unanimous decision after eight rounds.
Shortly after his comeback victory over Rankin, Dawson received the key to the city of New Haven; his hometown. However, there is still more to be desired for the former champion who turned 37-years-old in July.
“It means a lot. Getting the key to the city really is a milestone in my life and in my career,” Dawson enthused.
“But like I said, I’m looking to bigger and better things from here on out. I’m looking to take everything into serious consideration and to get back to the top where I was.”
Dawson won the WBC light heavyweight world title in 2007 at 24-years-old, when he outpointed Tomasz Adamek, who had an unbeaten record going in. For Dawson, the win over Adamek is the most satisfying moment of his career.
“Nobody thought I was gonna win that fight. Everybody thought that he was gonna be too much for me, but I proved everybody wrong.”
Since then, Dawson has beaten some of the most legendary names in light heavyweight boxing history, including Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver (twice), and Bernard Hopkins. But being a two-time world champion isn’t quite enough for “Bad” Chad.
“My goal is to win one more world title. I believe that I’m still one of the best light heavyweights in the world when I’m on my game and doing the right things in the gym."
"I definitely want to go out on a high, not on a low like my last two fights. I’m looking to correct everything I did wrong [in the past]."
Before losing to Dawson in April of 2012, the then 47-year-old Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins was the oldest fighter to hold a world championship. Though Dawson is 10 years younger then Hopkins was at the time, Hopkins’ success during that period is part of what inspires Dawson in his comeback.
“I already got my mark in history as far as boxing goes, but I want to do what guys like George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins did. Come back, shock the world and show everybody that it doesn’t matter what age you are. It’s all about how you feel and your mindset.”
Although he’s willing to take on anyone for a world title, he did mention one name: Sergey Kovalev. Kovalev is currently slated to defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Nov. 2. When asked who he preferred to fight in a title shot, he responded:
“Kovalev, definitely Kovalev. He’s the most experienced, most seasoned out of all those guys. I think he’s more superior than those other guys and I think he’s still the best light heavyweight in the world right now.”
But for now, Dawson has business to take care of against Grachev. His bout against Grachev will be his first fight in Hartford since his successful title defense against Glen Johnson in November of 2009.
“It’s definitely good to be back home. It’s good to be able to perform in front of my family and friends. That’s even more motivation for me to put on a great show.”