It’s really good to hear that IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson have managed to hammer out contracts for a November 7 rematch of their controversial first fight from April of 2008. Back then, Dawson narrowly edged Johnson for a unanimous decision in a fight many felt was a draw or could have gone either way by the slimmest of margins.
Since that time, Dawson has gone on to twice defeat Antonio Tarver to largely gain recognition as the man to beat in the light heavyweight division. Of course, the division’s last champion, Joe Calzaghe, retired unbeaten, and Bernard Hopkins is still considered by most to be the best light heavyweight in the world; that is, when he actually fights. But with Calzaghe retired and Hopkins just about there himself, Dawson is the face of the division.
Carrying that torch inevitably brings criticism, and Dawson had been receiving his share for not granting Johnson an immediate rematch. Truth be told, that criticism was warranted. Dawson was not a convincing winner in April, but, like a champion, he’s answering the criticism now by giving Johnson the rematch he deserves.
A lack of other lucrative options probably steered Dawson in this direction, and he’s even made sure that the fight will take place in his backyard of Hartford, Connecticut. But the fact that he’s facing a tough challenger like Johnson, who gave him all he could handle a year and a half ago, earns merit.
Dawson-Johnson II takes care of one rematch fans have been calling for, but there are several others out there that boxing needs for closure. They’re not all popular fights; in fact, fans probably wouldn’t want to see at least one of them, but it’s because the fights were so close and because of what has happened since each fight that we need to see them again.
One necessary rematch that immediately comes to mind is Andre Berto vs. Luis Collazo. In January, Berto only just edged Collazo in a real nip and tuck affair that more than a few people thought Collazo deserved to win. Either way you saw it, it was a close fight without a definitive winner. But Berto kept his WBC Welterweight title and his unbeaten streak when the judges turned in two cards that had Berto ahead by a point and one bizarre card that had him a five-point winner. Berto agreed to give Collazo a rematch immediately after the fight but went on to fight the smaller Juan Urango instead.
However, it turns out that this is a rematch Berto might not be able to avoid. A purse bid for the rematch was scheduled for last Friday, as Collazo is Berto’s mandatory contender, though no official word was announced. Speculation has been going on that Berto would rather pursue other options, but, if he wants to keep his WBC belt, he has to go through Collazo again. Barring a big fight against Shane Mosley or Joshua Clottey, chances are Berto will end up fighting Collazo. And it’s not like the fans wouldn’t want to see it. The first fight showcased some wild exchanges throughout, with Collazo getting off to a good start only to lose some steam late in the fight. Collazo remains the only real threat Berto has faced in his career, and Berto owes it to the fans to prove that he is indeed the better fighter.
On the other hand, a rematch fans probably wouldn’t care to see but one that remains somewhat necessary is Sergio Martinez vs. Kermit Cintron II. The first fight, simply put, was boxing at its worst. The bout was dull by anyone’s standards until Martinez connected on a punch that forced Cintron to take a knee. Cintron tried to play it off as a head butt and actually let himself be counted out of the fight. Then, things got downright ridiculous as Cintron managed to convince Referee Frank Santore that he had been butted, and Santore restarted the fight after it had been stopped, which is flat out unheard of by any boxing standards.
Forced to continue after scoring a knockout, Martinez appeared to out box Cintron with his quicker hands en route to what should have been a wide decision win, but two judges found a way to see the fight even, rendering a majority draw.
Normally in an instance such as this, fans and experts alike accept that the judges erred, and the guy that should have won goes on to bigger and better things. The problem, though, is that Martinez really isn’t a big name in boxing – he’s not even a bigger name than Cintron. And, Cintron is coming off somewhat of an upset as he became the first man to defeat Alfredo Angulo in May. Further complicating matters is that, while Cintron’s record shows two losses, both came at the hands of Antonio Margarito, who was caught trying to illegally load his gloves against Shane Mosley. Boxing insiders and fans alike have taken this to mean that Margarito had been loading his gloves for years, which would negate both of Cintron’s losses to him, one in 2005 and one in 2008.
So even though just about everyone outside of two of the judges thought Martinez handled Cintron with relative ease, Cintron can be considered an undefeated fighter with a little push and shove here and there. Martinez only has one loss on his resume, which, interestingly enough, was to Margarito from years back. If Margarito was loading his gloves then as well, then we could be looking at two undefeated fighters going at it once more to settle the score.
The last sorely needed rematch to touch upon is by far the most important. In November of 2007, Miguel Cotto narrowly defeated Shane Mosley in defense of his then-WBA Welterweight Championship. It was a close, competitively fought bout to be sure, but most felt Cotto did enough to earn the win. Anyone demanding a rematch was probably looking for an excuse to see a great fight happen again, not because there was any doubt about the winner.
When Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired the following year, Cotto was considered the leading candidate to inherit the welterweight division. All he had to do was beat the highly-rated Margarito in July. But it wasn’t to be as Margarito wore down and stopped Cotto late in the fight. As a result, Margarito was then looked at as the man to beat in the welterweight division.
So how does Mosley factor back in? Well, he went out and not only beat but thoroughly dominated Margarito this January, and, as a result, is now widely considered the best welterweight in the world not named Mayweather. But Cotto was the one who beat Mosley before all of that. So doesn’t that make Cotto the man to beat at 147 pounds, especially given that Margarito likely used loaded gloves to beat Cotto, in which case Cotto would still be undefeated?
It’s a good question and a hard scenario to figure. While this writer feels Cotto is the number one welterweight in the world, based on his performance against Mosley and the fact that he probably beats Margarito if no tampered gloves are involved, it doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. Sure, Mosley did beat a Margarito who definitely wasn’t loading his gloves, but what if Mosley has simply rejuvenated himself to where he is actually better than Cotto now?
With Cotto and Mosley the two highest-rated welterweights, a rematch would give boxing a clear welterweight champion, at least as far as The RING is concerned. Mayweather may have something to say about that in 2010, and maybe Manny Pacquiao will run through Cotto in November to erase the Puerto Rican from the picture altogether. With that said, Cotto-Mosley II is the fight that should have been happening this fall, but it’s unlikely we’ll get to see it.
These are just some bouts that could bring about clarity, but, more often than not, these and bouts like them will only come to fruition when the fighters are forced into that position, whether it be money or contractual obligations. Still, the remainder of 2009 is seeing some great fights lined up as it is, and, as long as top fighters fight one another, the sport can sort itself out over time.
Tags: Andre Berto, Antonio Margarito, Bernard Hopkins, Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson, Chad Dawson, Chad Dawson vs Glen Johnson, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Glen Johnson, Kermit Cintron, Luis Collazo, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley