ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Bad Chad is a champion again.
He has his belt back — and gave the ageless Bernard Hopkins a major decision to make about his fighting future.
Dawson defeated Hopkins by a 12-round majority decision Saturday night and won the WBC light heavyweight title, taking the rematch at Boardwalk Hall without the controversy and ugliness of their first bout six months ago.
The 29-year-old Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) never let a deep cut near his left eye affect his methodical approach at taking out Hopkins.
At 47, Hopkins (52-6-2) may have fought his last fight, though it seems impossible to count him out for one more bout as he pushes 50.
Dawson, though, may have shut the faucet on Hopkins' Fountain of Youth.
"I believe there's a lot of people out there that won't fight me," Hopkins said. "It all depends on the motivation."
This rematch was no classic, but it was an improvement on their first bout in October in Los Angeles.
Dawson had his TKO victory over Hopkins overturned and the decision was ruled a no-contest and the belt returned to the Philadelphia fighter. Dawson lifted Hopkins and tossed him to the canvas in that one.
This time, Dawson was the victim of at least one accidental head-butt that busted open a cut near his left eye.
He kept his composure and cranked up the pressure in the later rounds. No fighter has ever knocked out Hopkins and Dawson never came close.
He didn't have to lay him out to win this one.
Dawson held the belt high over his head and slung it over his shoulder in celebration.
"My head is hurting from all the head-butts," Dawson said. "I've got to give him a lot of credit. He's a future Hall of Famer, he's a hell of a fighter. But he's a dirty fighter. But if you can get through 12 rounds with him, you can get through anything."
Hopkins will likely return to Philadelphia and consider his options. Hopkins held his own against the younger, more talented fighter, but was never a serious threat to retain.
Hopkins said he will decide his future on his own terms after talking with friends and promoters.
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