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Jean Pascal, Chad Dawson

Montreal Exposed

Like the Americans in 1775 or the Expos in 2004, Chad Dawson left Montreal with little more than his spirit broken and his tail between his legs after 12 rounds with Jean Pascal. Rafael's Scorecard ยป

Light heavyweight
Jean Pascal tech. dec. 11 Chad Dawson
Wins vacant world light heavyweight title/retains a light heavyweight belt
Scores: 108-101, 106-103 (twice)
Records: Pascal, 26-1, 16 KOs; Dawson, 29-1, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Dawson was the 4-1 favorite. He was in the top few on most pound-for-pound lists, having decisively defeated the likes of Tomasz Adamek, Antonio Tarver (twice) and Glen Johnson (well, at least one of their two fights was a decisive win). And no less than Floyd Mayweather Jr. had hailed him as the future pound-for-pound king. So when Dawson, 28, of New Haven, Conn., went to Pascal's turf in Montreal because he is unable to draw a crowd in his home region, he was still expected to use his better skills, speed and three-inch height advantage to defeat Pascal. But that's why they fight the fights.

Pascal was the better man from the opening bell as he pulled the upset and did it in convincing fashion in front of an adoring throng at the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is one of the great boxing cities in the world these days, boasting such fighters as Pascal, super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute (who was ringside and could loom as an opponent for Pascal in the biggest fight in Canadian history) and rising star David Lemieux.

While Pascal, 27, fought with aggression and purpose throughout the fight, Dawson was passionless and unwilling to lay it on the line. Pascal was. What else would you expect from a guy who suffered three separate shoulder dislocations in his December rematch with Adrian Diaconu but still gutted it out to the final bell to retain his title before undergoing shoulder surgery? Pascal's rehabilitation delayed the mandatory fight with Dawson for months, but the shoulder seemed just fine in the fight.

Pascal, a 2004 Olympian, made the fight. He pressed forward and opened a lead by forcing Dawson into retreat. He had Dawson on the run in the seventh round after rocking him with a right hand to the chin and buckling his knees with another right hand moments later. He cracked Dawson with another solid right hand in the eighth and once again had Dawson hurt to the point that he had to hold to collect himself. Dawson did answer by stunning Pascal in the ninth, but Pascal was back on the attack in the 10th round in an inspired performance. In the 11th round, knowing he needed to win the last two rounds big because that's what his trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, pleaded with him to do in the corner, Dawson went for the knockout. He hurt Pascal, but Pascal has never been down and has shown a great chin throughout his career. He withstood Dawson's desperate attack before an accidental head butt opened a serious cut over Dawson's right eye. The blood was pouring from the cut and referee Mike Griffin, who did a fine job throughout the fight, called timeout to have the ringside doctor look at the injury. Although Dawson wanted to continue, the fight was called off because of the cut and sent to the scorecards for the technical decision.

The outcome was obvious as Pascal won to retain his alphabet title for the third time. More important, with Dawson ranked first and Pascal ranked second in most independent rankings, Pascal also claimed the Ring magazine world championship -- the lineal title -- which had been vacant since Joe Calzaghe's retirement.

Dawson, whose safety-first style can be maddening to watch -- which is perhaps why he couldn't sell out a fight in his driveway -- was filled with sour grapes afterward. He complained about Pascal's supposed head-butting being on purpose (yeah, whatever) and insisting that because he had Pascal hurt in the moments before the fight ended, he would have knocked him out later in the round or in the 12th. Nonsense. He got beat, plain and simple, and it was pathetic to hear him make excuses instead of giving Pascal the credit he deserved. Dawson had 10-plus rounds to do something against Pascal and he didn't. The better man, and the more crowd-pleasing fighter, won. Dawson's lack of fire and lack enthusiasm were painfully obvious and had to make you appreciate Pascal's energy all the more.

Dawson does have a rematch clause, but Pascal has the ability to take an interim bout first. If promoter Yvon Michel and Canadian competitor InterBox can somehow make a deal for him to face Bute, you're talking about a fight of gargantuan proportions in Canada. They'd need a stadium for the fight, not just a regular arena like the Bell Centre. What Dawson does next remains to be seen. Whatever it is, let's hope he comes to fight.

Will Hart/HBO Sports