So what happens? Stevenson lands a huge left to Dawson's temple only 76 seconds into the opening round and walks away with the championship belt.
"I said I'd knock him out," said Stevenson (21-1). "I said it would be in the eighth round because I wanted him to suffer, but it's not my fault if he went down. There was nothing I could do."
The stunning victory by the 35-year-old Longueuil, Que., resident had the Bell Centre crowd on its feet, singing the Ole Ole song used at Montreal Canadiens hockey games.
It was his first attempt at a world title, and he took it from a savvy veteran who held the WBC belt twice and defended it against some of the top fighters in the division.
Dawson (31-3-0) got up just in time to avoid being counted out, but referee Richard Griffin checked him out and declared the bout over, with the dethroned champion looking wobbly on his feet.
Griffin said Dawson's corner protested the stoppage, but promoter Gary Shaw had no argument with the decision.
"I'm sure Michael Griffin did a real good job," Shaw said.
"He wasn't on his own legs and he was using the ropes for support," said Griffin. "He wasn't ready to fight. I asked him to lift his arms up and he couldn't. He wasn't prepared to defend himself."
The victory, which was broadcast on the U.S. specialty channel HBO, should put Stevenson into some lucrative and high-profile bouts in future.
The mandatory challenger is Tony Bellew of Britain, who has said he is willing to fight Stevenson in Montreal.
But Stevenson said his first choice would be veteran Bernard Hopkins, who took the belt away from Jean Pascal of Laval, Que., in 2011. Dawson then beat Hopkins.
He could also be in line to face the winner of a local grudge match between Pascal and former IBF champion Lucian Bute expected in December.
When asked what he looked forward to, Stevenson smiled and said "money, money money."
He became Canada's only current world champion.
Stevenson has been a heavy puncher since he broke into boxing and has drawn comparisons to former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson.
The taller, more experienced Dawson hoped to avoid big shots and out-box him in the battle of two lefthanders.
"I mixed it up, body-head, body head," said Stevenson. "Then he put his hands down and I nailed him hard."
Dawson was not available for comment. Shaw said his fighter would consult with his family and decide how to proceed with his career.
The rousing crowd reaction to the knockout was in stark contrast to the boos that rained down for the co-feature.
Yuriorkis Gamboa won the interim WBA lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Darleys Perez in a bout badly lacking in action.
Gamboa (23-0), the 2004 Olympic gold medallist from Cuba who now lives in Miami, snuck a left hook around Perez's guard for a knockdown in the opening round and never trailed in the bout.
It was Gamboa's first fight as a lightweight after holding titles at featherweight and junior lightweight. Perez (28-1) was in his first title bout.
He was led into the ring by his promoter, rapper Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson.
But fans grew impatient with long stretches of inactivity from both fighters, with the larger Perez keeping his distance and the quick-handed Gamboa seemingly content to sit on his lead after winning the early rounds.
Two ringside judges had it 116-111 and the other 115-112, all for Gamboa. The Canadian Press scored it 116-111 for Gamboa.
It was no contest as middleweight David Lemieux (29-2) of Montreal knocked down Poland's Robert Swierzbinski (11-2) once with a right to the body and twice with left hooks in the first round for a quick win.
HBO put a super-featherweight bout between Jose Pedraza of Puerto Rico against Mexico's Sergio Villanueva and it got the crowd going as Pedraza (13-0) stopped Villanueva (25-3-2) in seven rounds with a barrage of body shots.
Promoter Yvon Michel's new signing, two-time Olympian Artur Beterbiev of Russia, easily won his pro debut as he stopped Christian Cruz (12-16-1) in the second round of a light heavyweight bout. Cruz has lost 11 in a row.
Heavyweight Didier Bence (9-0) of Montreal also stopped Eric Barrak (7-1) of St-Come, Que., in the second.
A tight welterweight bout saw Sebastien Bouchard (7-0) of Quebec City eke out a six-round unanimous decision over Frank Cotroni (7-1) of Montreal.