Earlier this week, Chad Dawson vs. Andrzej Fonfara was added to the card for Keith Thurman’s March 4 showdown with Danny Garcia. This is a crossroads fight between a faded former champion and a contender coming off from a shocking loss.
Prior to last June, I would have argued that Fonfara belonged in the light heavyweight top five. But then he was caught short in Round 1 by Joe Smith Jr., a career club fighter with world-class power.
Even with that stunning reversal, I still rate Fonfara at the bottom half of the top 10. In 2012, he beat Glen Johnson by wider margins than Carl Froch has the previous year. He gave lineal champion Adonis Stevenson his toughest defense in May 2014, knocking him down in Round 9. He humiliated the overrated Julio Cesar Chavez by TKO in April 2014. In October 2015, he bested former belt holder Nathan Cleverly in an all-action war.
Fonfara’s resume is one of the best in the division. But it is fair to wonder how he will recover from such a dramatic loss. And Dawson is an interesting opponent for him.
A few years ago, Dawson was at the class of the light heavyweight division. The clever southpaw had two wins each over Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in 2008 and 2009. After losing by Technical Decision to Jean Pascal in a fight to establish the lineal light heavyweight champion in August 2010, he rebounded to defeat Bernard Hopkins for the same championship in April 2012.
But in April 2012, he dropped down to 168 pounds to face super middleweight champion Andre Ward. Ward battered him, knocking him down in Rounds 3 and 4 and stopping him for good in the 10th. Dawson has never seemed to recover.
He lost his very next fight by stunning Round 1 KO to Stevenson. He dropped a split decision to Karpency in October 2014.
A year ago, I would have given Dawson no shot against Fonfara. But Fonfara is coming off from the same sort of shocking defeat that derailed Dawson. And Dawson is actually coming off a decent stoppage of Cornelius White, last April.
So, as I said, this is a crossroads fight. And sometimes they can be the very best.