In the main event, Dawson kept a measured distance over the first three minutes. Virtually no punches of any significance landed, but it was Dawson who let his hands go more freely even though he caught mostly Hopkins’ defense. Dawson’s higher output prevailed. Hopkins closed the distance in the second while both men threw sparingly with minimal accuracy. Dawson landed a couple clean shots to the body and employed his jab to set up the left hand. Again, few punches landed, but Hopkins’ hands were busier than in the previous round. Another close three minutes passed, but Dawson appeared the more productive puncher.
Hopkins opened the third with a clean right hand lead. Dawson regained his space to keep the fight on the outside. Hopkins waded in wildly to let his hands go, but not all were effective blows. Hopkins began holding Dawson’s arm with his elbow as they came in close. After being separated, Hopkins landed a nice left hook. Hopkins’ head movement cut down Dawson’s accuracy and probably gave him the round. In the fourth, a clash of heads opened a large gash over the left eye of Dawson in the opening seconds. Hopkins immediately began hot dogging once the action continued. Dawson regained his space and scored well with a long left hand. Dawson began darting in to find a home for his right hand as well. Another close round went in the books for Hopkins.
Dawson started the fifth more quickly and scored well while Hopkins was pressed to the ropes. Dawson returned to the body with his hooks and began setting up his uppercut as Hopkins dropped his head. A strong left for Dawson landed near the close of the round and his increased punch-rate earned him the round on SecondsOut’s card. Another left hand lead landed flush for Dawson to start the sixth. Hopkins retaliated with a wild combination to the midsection as Dawson backed up out of range. An uppercut to the body landed for Dawson as he continued to box safely and increase his footwork for another close frame. After six rounds, SecondsOut favored Dawson 58-56.
Round seven saw some good exchanges early. Dawson’s left hand started landing with greater frequency, but Hopkins managed to land quick counters to keep him in the action. Dawson reestablished his range and returned to pumping his jab to win one of the most conclusive rounds of the bout. The cut remained only a small factor with no blood flow since it opened. Dawson opened up with a big right hook in the eighth. To the remained closer as they both worked for each other’s body. Dawson began to assert himself over Hopkins as he pressed him to the ropes with rapid combination punches to the body and head. Dawson countered an off the mark Hopkins jab with a solid uppercut. Hopkins was cautioned for pushing down on Dawson’s head. Somewhere in the action another cut was opened over the right eye of Dawson. Dawson’s lead grew to 78-74 on SecondsOut’s card.
The ninth kept the same pace as Hopkins began back up around the ring while Dawson followed him while neither man threw with any conviction. Hopkins picked up the pace, but Dawson met him head on with cleaner punching. Neither man had been able to hurt the other to this point, bit Hopkins’ shot appeared more wild than fans are used to seeing. Hopkins surrendered another round to a more active Dawson. A solid one-two put Hopkins on his heels momentarily to start the tenth. A stiff jab followed which snapped Hopkins’ head back. Dawson kept his distance using his legs more and more while pumping out one shot at a time. The punch count remained low, but Dawson clearly out landed his older foe to gain a lead of 98-92 on my card.
Hopkins put in some good work to start the eleventh as he found Dawson’s head with greater frequency than in the previous ten rounds. Hopkins charged forward and the two fell to the canvas in a tangled heap. Hopkins rose appearing more tired than any point in the fight. Dawson landed with the right, but Hopkins won the round. The final round saw Dawson pressing more than in the previous three minutes, but he never landed with great consequence. Hopkins’ output dropped for yet another close round won by the challenger. Dawson was the victor by a margin of 117-111 on SecondsOut’s card. The three judges from ringside scored 114-114, 117-111, and 117-111 to give Dawson the majority decision.
Dawson, the new WBC light heavyweight champion, improved to 31-1 (17). Hopkins fell to 52-6-2 (32). After the bout, Dawson expressed interest in meeting Andre Ward at any weight to begin establishing his own legacy. Before leaving the ring, the new champion showered Hopkins with praise, but pointed out some of Hopkins’ questionable tactics. Hopkins left the ring without granting an interview.