By Danny Winterbottom: In part one of this exclusive interview with “Iceman” John Scully, the former head coach of Chad Dawson gave us a behind the scenes look into the training camp of the WBC 175lbs champion as he prepared for his ill-fated clash with super middleweight number one Andre Ward in September 2012.
From weight making problems to training camp disputes Scully revealed all and in part two he discusses adjustments he attempted to make to Chad’s style, his former charges’ rematch with Jean Pascal and his own future in the game.
“Now if he’s going to imply that I wasn’t ready to teach him anything or influence him in the gym then let me tell you of pivotal moments that he has apparently forgotten about” Scully continued, angry that Dawson had openly criticised his teachings on YouTube.
“Take for example, in training for our previous fight when he was having trouble getting out of the way of the counter left hook of Yusef Mack in sparring. Every time he rushed in and tried to impose himself on Yusef he got clipped clean with left hooks” Scully revealed.
“I gave him time to work it out himself but he never did. So after a day or two of that I told him to give Yusef a hard feint first and when he reacts by letting go with that hook I want him to let it go by his face and then counter immediately with three or four quick shots. And the next round that is exactly what happened. Chad did it perfectly and I’m telling you now that wasn’t happening at that time if I wasn’t there.”
The widely reported knock down Dawson suffered, at the hands of Edison Miranda a few weeks prior to the Andre Ward fight, had the potential to cause tremendous mental anguish to the fighter so close to the most important contest of his career. Scully recognised this and says he immediately relayed to Chad a very important story.
“I told him about how Quincy Taylor dropped Sugar Ray Leonard in the last sparring session Ray had before he fought Hagler. Ray was dropped in the gym training for a fight where he actually planned to go toe to toe with Marvin but that knock down did nothing but wake Ray up to the fact that he needed to not bang it out with a stronger man like Hagler and you saw the subsequent showing Ray put on that night. He was able to turn a negative into a huge positive and I relayed that to Chad. He sent me a text back later that night saying, “See, that’s why I brought you back into my corner and that’s what makes you a great trainer. Thanks. I’m looking forward to sparring again!”
“And then two days later he was back to ignoring me in the gym!”
Watching helplessly from the ring apron, as Ward pummelled Dawson from pillar to post, Scully could see Chad was struggling terribly with the weight loss he had endured and the manner in which the troublesome extra pounds had been shed the night before he stepped into the ring.
“His body just wasn’t responding whatsoever. He was getting hit with shots that normally he could absorb with no trouble but these shots were getting him hurt and dazed.”
“During camp all people had been talking about was how strong Chad would be and how hard Chad was going to hit. “Every punch he hits Ward with he’s going to hurt him.” That’s all I kept hearing.
Sadly there have been countless examples of boxers down the years doing crazy things during camp in order to make a contracted weight. Scully revealed in part one of this interview that Dawson actually gained weight during a nine week camp despite running up mountains and dieting as his body protested about the regime it was being subjected to.
“Chad not only didn’t eat anything for the entire day before the weigh in (according to Chad himself) but he also didn’t eat anything that night or the next day unless you count the juice he was able to suck out of a grapefruit that night. As a matter of fact, he wouldn’t have been allowed to have that if I didn’t urge the strength coach to let him take in something. He initially refuted the suggestion and I knew it was trouble when the normally quiet Chad spoke up to tell this man,
“Come on, I haven’t eaten anything since last night!”
“So off he went to suck down whatever juice he could pull from that single grapefruit”
“Now, granted, I am no genius when it comes to protein, enzymes, calories and vitamins but I certainly know enough to assure you that the method devised by this man bordered on insanity. I certainly know enough to read a scale that I can look down on and see what a fighter next to me weighs in at. I mean, everyone saw the fight. Is anyone in their right mind going to tell me improper weight loss didn’t contribute greatly to that showing?”
“I point these things out because his strength coach has gone on record after the fight saying that the weight loss didn’t affect Chad at all despite the fact I told him well in advance where things were headed as a result of it. And I feel like if someone says it wasn’t the weight loss then the reason Chad looked like he did must be at least in part because of the boxing trainer. I mean, when the fighter loses badly and the trainer is fired immediately afterwards then it stands to reason that they believe the boxing coach was at least partially at fault, right?”
“As further indication of this, Chad is going to sit there soon after the fight and look into a reporter’s camera on YouTube and imply that I somehow wasn’t ready to handle his training for the fight? Please. Chad Dawson is a much better fighter than he showed that night. All credit to Andre Ward, the man is a beast and a true champion. I have nothing but respect for the guy in and out of the ring now but I also know enough about Chad Dawson and what the preparations for that fight entailed to feel you need to know what he endured to get to that weight.”
“On my end as the trainer, I unfortunately know all too well what it feels like to be in that situation as a boxer and I knew that even the best technical advice in the world wasn’t going to matter as much or even have an impact because Chad’s body and his brain just weren’t in synch with each other that night. When you’re losing weight like that it affects your ability to receive specific instructions and actually carry them out. You want to but your body has trouble responding.”
“So I felt I needed to set off some kind of spark in him that would get him to let his hands go. But telling someone how to drive a million dollar race car properly doesn’t mean much when one tire is flat, the gas is low and the engine is spluttering out.”
As is the way in boxing life goes on, and having returned to another former trainer in Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, Dawson is set to defend his WBC light heavyweight title in a rematch with Jean Pascal, the only man to beat him at 175lbs, on May 25 in Pascal’s home city of Montreal.
“I think there is a lot of intrigue and stories behind the fight” said Scully. “Chad being with Eddie again is a story in itself. There is also the controversial ending the first time out. It’s actually interesting to me because of the fact that Jean is coming off a fight where he injured his arm badly and Chad is coming off a fight where his weight depleted body took some real abuse so while both guys come in not at absolutely 100% physical and mental capability, they will still be sort of on par with each other. So it’s going to depend on how each guy reacts to and performs after having gone through some real trying times recently. Mental strength will be a huge factor in this one, definitely.”
John Scully is currently training a very solid and talented welterweight in undefeated Javie “El Chino” Flores who won his last fight in Oakland by knockout. His next contest will be on the ESPN network as part of the undercard to the Lamont Petersen-Kendall Holt main event.
“Boxing is going well for me right now. No complaints whatsoever, believe me.”
February 13, 2013