Boxing
Ominous Cloud on Dawson's horizon?
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - OK...now I get it.

While chatting last week with Tavoris Cloud, I took much of his "Chad Dawson doesn't want to fight me" rambling as routine verbal chest-thumping from one fighter toward another.

You know the drill.

"He's afraid of me." "He knows I'll beat him." "He's running scared."

It's a rant that anyone who interviews boxers for a living has heard a thousand times, and one that anyone who reads boxing stories as a hobby has read a thousand more.

After last Friday night, though, I'm thinking a little differently.

Maybe, just maybe... ol' Tavoris has a point.

Upon watching a one-sided 12-round mugging of brave veteran Clinton Woods, I'm not so sure Dawson's decision to steer clear of Cloud was based solely on business acumen.

No question, the IBO champion will cash a check with a few more zeroes against Glen Johnson this fall than he would have had he decided to keep the IBF belt and face Cloud as his mandatory.

The Johnson rematch, after all, is one fans have been calling for since the "Road Warrior" gave "Bad Chad" all he wanted in a spirited 12-rounder in Tampa in April 2008.

Johnson is a two-decade fan favorite who's been in with the best of three weight classes, beaten several and has been entertaining more often than not in doing so.

Meanwhile, Cloud, prior to his featured slot on basic cable, was a comparatively inactive prospect that few non-hardcore fans had even heard of, let alone seen.

Not exactly the recipe for a burgeoning bank account.

But there may be a little more to it than numbers.

Against a legitimate Top 10 foe in Woods -- arguably his first in 20 fights -- Cloud showed the same sort of determined, aggressive style that Johnson employed while convincing more than just a few people that he'd done enough to deserve a decision over Dawson 17 months ago.

And while Woods admittedly hadn't distinguished himself in two prior trips from England and did little more to do so this time around, that didn't make the 27-year-old Tallahassee native's effort in beating him any less impressive.

His punches were short and jarring. His combinations were frequent and fluid. His stamina, though he'd been 10 rounds just once, was as evident at the last bell as it had been at the first.

And in the long run for Dawson -- any trepidation notwithstanding -- it's all good news.

Presuming he gets past Johnson in November and assuming Cloud is able to wade through an initial defense or two of his new crown, the youngster's coming-out party might be the first bit of foundation upon which to construct the light heavyweight division's next big event.

Imagine if you will... a pair of unbeaten 175-pound champions.

One's a well-rounded boxer. The other's a menacing knockout artist.

Each builds a resume and a following before getting together to unify the division, step forward as pound-for-pound elites and -- presuming the PPV executives come calling -- cash bigger paychecks than had the bout been rushed together a year or two too soon.

Lucrative evidence that instant gratification isn't always the best thing.

And come late 2010 or early 2011, remember where you heard it first.

* * * * * * * * * *

I hate to say, but I'm sick and tired of Shane Mosley.

The multi-division champion has long been one of my favorites, both for obvious skill in the ring and affable demeanor outside it.

He's a good fighter, and, more importantly in the long run, a good guy.

But the constant rant that he's the No. 1 welterweight in the world and the accompanying whine that every fighter within 10 pounds seems to be avoiding him is getting old.

To counter his claims, I'll prevent a few facts.

In late 2007, after beating the not-quite-Murderers Row of David Estrada, Jose Luis Cruz, Fernando Vargas and Luis Collazo, he made a grab for the WBA welterweight crown then held by Miguel Cotto.

And lost. Decisively.

Not on a robbery. Not on a verdict that prompted protest. But unanimously in the eyes of the judges, who gave Cotto 21 of a possible 36 rounds across three scorecards, with one round even.

I had it 8-4 for Cotto and found no reason to change after several replays.

Somehow though, revisionist history seems to have taken hold. At least to Shane.

As everyone knows, Cotto and Mosley took diverging paths after their bout.

The Puerto Rican lost for the first time a few months later, by TKO to Antonio Margarito in 11 brutal rounds. He's since bounced back, re-belted with a pair of wins and is on the verge of cashing out in Las Vegas with Manny Pacquiao in November.

Mosley, meanwhile, got back to winning with a tough dispatch of Ricardo Mayorga, then solved the Margarito riddle after the Mexican's pre-fight gloving techniques were exposed to a less-than-amused athletic commission in California, calling into question all his past wins -- namely Cotto.

So, though their experience with a common foe was different, the result of their encounter isn't.

Cotto beat Mosley.

And until that result is reversed in the ring or one of them falls dramatically from the stage at 147 -- C comes before M in my ranking alphabet.

But that's enough for Shane.

He recently told BoxingScene.com that Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Cotto "are prima donnas who just want to fight for money. I'm a real fighter. I'm supposed to be an old man walking on crutches and [expletive deleted], and they are basically saying they want to fight everybody else."

Ummm, Shane, I hate to be a bother... but that's nonsense.

Mayweather was interested in a fight with Mosley in 2006, but was turned away and moved to other things -- namely stopping an unbeaten Ricky Hatton and taking care of Oscar De La Hoya in the biggest financial fight in the sport's history.

He's fighting this month against the consensus No. 2 in the world -- Juan Manuel Marquez -- which serves as a logical springboard to everyone's No. 1, Pacquiao, should he do his own part and beat Cotto.

If there's a reason to blame "Money" for that path, I'd love to hear it.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao has been busy with his own Hatton/De La Hoya double and subsequently made a choice to pursue Cotto -- based at least in part on his defeat of Mosley -- to cement status atop the 147-pound class.

If he'd fought Mosley, people would have said "Why didn't you fight Cotto?"

If he defeats Cotto, no one bemoans "Why didn't you fight Mosley?"

And as for Cotto himself, it's hard to understand Mosley's logic when the result of their fight is barely dry on the page.

It's not as if it was five years ago. It's not as if Mosley has reinvented himself.

In fact, chances are very good that if they got together in the same Madison Square Garden ring tonight, the second 12-round get-together would end with the same result as the first.

And the general reaction would be... "Yaaaaawn, so what?"

With that the case, if I'm advising Miguel, hell yes I'd pursue a big fight with Pacquiao over a rematch.

It makes business sense. It makes legacy sense. It makes competitive sense.

And it makes sense to the fans that will come out in droves to watch at $55 per.

Regardless of the grumpy old man.

Sorry Shane, I hope we can still be friends.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week's title-fight schedule:

FRIDAY

WBO junior bantamweight title -- Rama, Ontario

Jose Lopez (champion) vs. Marvin Sonsona (No. 6 contender)

Lopez (39-7-2, 32 KO): First title defense; Lost first four WBO title fights Sonsona (13-0, 12 KO): First career title fight; Won 12 straight fights by KO

FitzHitz says: Sonsona in 5

Last week's picks: 5-0

Overall picks record: 123-46 (72.7 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 20-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to Stone Cold Sports on the MVN Network (stonecoldsports.com) and several sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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