By Danny Winterbottom: When the dust finally settled on Chad Dawson’s failed attempt to drop 7lbs from his light heavyweight frame and tackle the world’s premiere super middleweight Andre Ward in September 2012 , the man from New Haven Connecticut wanted answers.
Five months earlier “Bad” Chad had scored a majority decision victory over living legend Bernard Hopkins in a rematch to retain his WBC 175lbs crown and was expected to pose a serious threat to Ward when they met inside the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California.
Instead Dawson found himself on the receiving end of a 10 round beating as “S.O.G” brutally demonstrated his mastery over the naturally bigger man, dropping him three times before Dawson signalled he wanted no more of a rampant champion who retained his WBC and WBA titles.
Battered and bruised both mentally and physically the 30-year-old decided that his trainer John Scully, whom he had previously returned to in September 2011 when he parted company with the late Emanuel Steward, was to be axed.
Although reports of the Dawson-Scully split began to surface in the media the trainer himself told SecondsOut he is still to hear personally from his ex-charge.
“I found out about two weeks or so ago when someone posted it on my Facebook wall and Chad did an interview on YouTube. Chad never broke any news to me whatsoever, not even a Facebook break up note. He never called me, never contacted me. I haven’t spoken to him literally since the night of the Ward fight in California. It’s apparently not in him to handle things the proper way. He did it to his first coach, Brian Clark, years ago. He did it to Eddie Mustapha the first time and to Emanuel Steward. He just pretends you never existed and really, as a man, as someone who has known him since he was a kid. I’m completely disgusted with this whole thing, but I can’t say it’s a shock to me either.”
Despite the perception that Dawson can be a difficult character to get close to Scully concedes the pair got along fine until after the Hopkins fight in April. Suddenly the relationship between fighter and trainer soured.
“To be honest, up until his last fight, I felt we had a good connection. After the Hopkins fight though it was just so different” he said.
“For better or worse he just kind of marches to the beat of his own drum. He would come into the gym, into his car, wherever we were, and wouldn’t talk. I tried to talk it up to him having the biggest fight of his life coming up and the tension and stress that comes with that but I could also see he didn’t have any problems speaking to or hanging out with the other guys on our team”
“The only time that I can remember him speaking directly to me during camp for Ward was when the HBO cameras were there one day filming us for 24/7. It was weird. In the gym sometimes I’d try to get him to do things I had planned for him, the same type of things we did for the Hopkins fights but he’d brush it off and tell me he wasn’t going to do that on that particular day. I mean, it got to be a thing where he was telling me what he was going to do and when. It got to be almost comical.”
Scully, himself a former world rated light heavyweight during the 90’s, paints a picture of a fighter openly questioning the methods of his tutor and doing what he pleased throughout his training camp as he prepared for the fight of his life.
“I remember one time in particular he texted me to ask my permission to take a day off from the gym. Like he wouldn’t have taken it off if I had said no to him. Then a week later he just doesn’t show up to the gym. Never calls to tell me, nothing. I got there and waited half an hour for him to show up until I decided to text one of the guys on the team and he told me that Chad isn’t training today.”
“Now I don’t know if he felt I needed to argue with him and establish myself as the head trainer in the situation or what, I don’t know, but I don’t work that way. You hired me to be the head trainer so we both already know my job. Now if you walk in and start to listen to other people then go ahead, do your thing. I shouldn’t have to walk over there and remind you who is in charge of your training. But it wasn’t that way this time and I didn’t want to argue about it. If I need to argue and debate and have to convince you to do things that I need and want you to do then screw it, I’m just not going to argue. That’s not me. Do whatever you want if you know so much and we can just wait and see how it turns out for you.”
Having changed head coaches ten times in 11 years Dawson has made his feelings quite clear as to where he points the finger of blame after a difficult experience in his career, but does Scully believe if Chad had afforded more time to any one of them he would be a better fighter for it?
“Yes, definitely. But not just that you have to remain focused and humble no matter how big you get. The trainer is always going to see more than the fighter. Some things that your trainer might want you to do, maybe you feel like it doesn’t have a point or isn’t applicable but if the trainer wants you to do it then he must see a reasoning for it. He must see some benefit. And if you don’t even ask or inquire as to what that benefit might be but, rather, you just dismiss it and go and do whatever it is you yourself feel like doing then what do you need a trainer for?”
“Once I saw that things had veered off down that road I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be returning for another camp. Whether it was my doing or his I wasn’t coming back.”
Although Dawson refused to use weight making difficulties as a reason for his defeat to the Oakland native the “Iceman” says without doubt it was a huge problem coming down from 175 to 168 and that the light heavyweight champion actually gained weight over the course of his training camp.
“It was clear to me that the weight was a huge issue for him. He doesn’t want it used as an excuse and I’m not, it’s more of a factor and a reason than an excuse. But I’m a free agent now, no longer on his team, so I can and will speak on it any way I choose to if only to clear my name because the fact of the matter is that during training for that fight I made my concerns very clear to his strength coach and nutritionist that I felt that things were being handled very wrong and there was no way Chad would be strong for the fight.”
“My concerns not only fell on deaf ears but they were rudely rejected. I was told that I “didn’t know what I was talking about” but the fact is that in regards to what was happening to Chad right before my eyes I was actually the only one who had any idea what he was talking about!”
“The fact is I will leave it to the world’s coaches and trainers to decide. On July 7 we got to Las Vegas and Chad weighed 182lbs. It was 111 degrees that day. Five weeks later on August 13 Chad weighed in after working out and was 184lbs. He somehow gained two pounds in five weeks after training, running up mountains or on the treadmill six days a week, sparring and dieting in plus 100 degree weather. I made my concerns very clear.”
“Then four weeks later, on September 6 at 7pm, the night before the weigh in, Chad weighed 175lbs. Meaning that not only did he only lose a pitiful 7lbs in nine weeks of training but he still had seven more to lose before the weigh in the next afternoon at 3pm. So he is brought to the treadmill where he runs for 50 minutes on the dot then sits in the sauna afterwards for 25 minutes. I know the length of time because I sat in there with him.”
“I mean, look, I was very rudely told that I didn’t know what I was talking about by this strength guy. And after the fight, a few weeks ago, Chad goes on YouTube to somehow say that he is at a level now where I couldn’t teach him anything anymore like before. Now I’m insulted by him and embarrassed for him that he feels the need to go this route. First of all, do I have to point to specific moments in order to back up my own qualifications for this guy??”
“ What happens in the gym normally stays in the gym but if you really feel like you need to go on a worldwide forum and imply that I somehow wasn’t ready to work with a guy like you then I think it’s only fair that I come back when asked to do so on a similar forum and defend myself because this boxing game is a business for us now and it’s my future as a trainer that you are attempting to damage and limit and I can’t just sit here and allow that to happen.
“My side must be told.”
In part two of this exclusive interview John Scully breaks down the upcoming rematch between his former charge and Jean Pascal, when they clash for the WBC light heavyweight title, and more.
February 4, 2013