SPORTS

Stevenson, Dawson trade verbal barbs ahead of June 8 light heavyweight bout

04/10/2013 03:43 EDT | Updated 06/10/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - If champion Chad Dawson and Canadian challenger Adonis Stevenson fight like they talk, their light heavyweight title bout could be quite a battle.

Stevenson (20-1) went face to face with a veteran trash talker when the two traded barbs at a news conference Wednesday to promote their June 8 WBC title fight at the Bell Centre.

The power-punching Stevenson got under Dawson's skin when he said "I will win by knockout."

The miffed champion replied: "Nobody knows you. I had to Google you, man. You're lucky to be getting the opportunity."

Then the shouting began, with the heated Dawson getting in most of the verbal digs and Stevenson maintaining a big smile. At least there were no punches thrown.

He called Stevenson a bum, mocked his black suit and bow tie and said "grown-ups don't have Mohawks. My three-year-old son has a Mohawk."

"He was mad, I like that," Stevenson, of Longueuil, Que., said later. "Chad is always quiet, and now I talked and he's mad. Now he'll have to train and prove it to me."

It is 35-year-old Stevenson's first shot at a world title and a 12th title clash for 30-year-old Dawson (31-2), who has fought most of the best in the super-middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions over the past seven years.

It will be Dawson's third bout in Montreal after a failed bid to take the WBC super-middleweight belt from Jean Pascal in 2010 and an uneventful win by decision over Adrian Diaconu nine months later.

While he complained that fight was stopped early due to a cut over his eye, he agreed to return to Montreal to defend his title against Stevenson. Dawson doesn't draw crowds in his hometown of New Haven, Conn., so he's always on the road.

Stevenson only turned pro in 2006 and looked to be a one-trick pony with his crushing left hook. And he seemed to have gone as far as he could go when he was knocked out by unheralded Darnell Boone in 2010.

But two years ago, he began working in Detroit under Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward and things turned around.

He added some technique to his power and posted impressive wins over Jesus Gonzales (27-1 at the time), Noe Gonzalez (28-1) and Dan George (23-2-1) to climb the rankings and get into world title fight territory.

His last outing was a tune-up March 22 in Montreal in which he took vengeance on Boone with a sixth round KO.

That only gave Dawson more ammunition.

"You've been knocked out already by a nobody," he said.

Javan (Sugar) Hill Steward has taken over as Stevenson's trainer over since his uncle Emanuel died last year from a colon condition.

They are up against a skilled but enigmatic fighter in Dawson, who can look devastating or disinterested in the ring from one fight to the next.

But he is 9-2 in world title fights.

He won the WBC belt from Bernard Hopkins (who had taken it from Pascal), but then went down to super-middleweight and suffered a one-sided 10-round TKO loss to the gifted Andre Ward in his last outing on Sept. 8.

Dawson said he was weakened from losing weight for that fight and wants to show the world his true colours against Stevenson in a bout to be broadcast on the HBO specialty channel.

His trainer Eddie Mustapha Muhammad said Dawson's experience and talent will win the day.

"Everybody talks about how Adonis can punch, but you have to hit the target," he said. "And to hit the target, you have to leave yourself open. Skills pay the bills. Adonis will find out what being a world champion is all about."

Stevenson was ready for that approach.

"He thinks he's got skill to move and I can't touch him," he said. "He knows I can punch, so I know he'll try to slick. But you can't slick for 12 rounds. It's boxing. There are four corners. You can't run and hide."

Dawson used to be called Bad Chad, but no longer wants that name.

"I'm starting a new chapter in my life," he said. "I'm not a bad guy."

The fight will be held on the weekend of the Canadian Grand Prix, the city's busiest week for tourism.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated this will be Dawson's scond fight in Montreal instead of his third.

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