WA light-middleweight Daniel Dawson has vowed to follow Sam Soliman and become the next Aussie veteran to win a world boxing title.
Dawson has secured a huge clash against former World Boxing Association champion Austin Trout.
He says the bout, a possible title eliminator, could take place at the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center) on the outskirts of Los Angeles in the first week of August.
Dawson (40 wins, three losses, one draw) hasn’t fought since last September, when he survived a torrid final round to deservedly outpoint American Alex Buenema at the WA Italian Club.
Since then he has had shoulder surgery and says the rest has done him the world of good.
“Isn’t it great news – for Aussie boxing and for myself, it’s just fantastic,” the 36-year-old told thewest.com.au.
“My management has been in negotiations for a while with it. We weren’t going to leak anything ourselves until Showtime released it, but by the look of it it’s come out of Trout’s camp.
“I’m really looking forward to shocking the world and showing how good Australia has become at boxing.
“Sam winning, Daniel Geale coming back soon, Jarrod Fletcher ... we might even be on the same card as (WBC super-middleweight champion) Sakio Bika. I think he may be main event on that show.
"These are exciting times and the timing could not be better.
“I’ve been performing at a great level, and fixing a few things with my body last year and again this year. Physically I’ve been getting into a good place and mentally I’m in a really good place.
"I’m back sparring now, I did eight rounds sparring last Wednesday and another eight rounds on Friday. There's general tiredness and soreness in the muscles and the shoulders but it’s the best I’ve been able to use the shoulder in a long time."
Even for a fully fit and fully focused Dawson this is a major step up, and the biggest fight for the Kalgoorlie-born “Rock” since 2010, when he went in as a late replacement to challenge for the WBO light-middleweight title against then champion Serhiy Dzinziruk at a casino in the Californian backwater of Santa Ynez.
There was to be no jackpot for the ever-willing Dawson, who was stopped in the 10th round. Five months later he was beaten again, at Arena Joondalup by Victorian Frank LoPorto, and his career was in danger of going nowhere.
“With the world title fight in the States with Dzinziruk, I did take it at late notice but I had actually stopped training while I was there as well," he said.
"My father passed away just before it. People go through things in life but instead of packing up I still tried to work and do my best. With LoPorto, maybe I shouldn’t have been in the ring at that time.
“But there has been a huge change in me in the last three or four years as I’ve moved on from a few issues I had with my father (dying) and in my childhood, things like that.
“With Bobby (trainer Bobby Mayne), with my manager Mike Altamura and with the training partners I’ve got at the moment, I have good people around me."
Another member of the team, promoter Ty Colman, confirmed the fight had been tied down and said Showtime had two dates in mind.
"This is great for Dan and great for myself and Dave (CDL Promotions partner Dave Letizia) to see after the work everyone's put in over the last few years," Colman said.
"Dan is now back at the level he should have been two years ago. It's a massive fight."
"No Doubt" Trout won his first 26 pro fights, including a victory over Miguel Cotto, but has lost his last two against Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Cuba’s Erislandy Lara, who meet next month.
“He’s a great boxer, was underrated for a while and beat Cotto,” Dawson said of Trout.
“It was a good fight with Alvarez and I think with Lara he got caught a little bit. He’s a very good boxer, more defensive than he is aggressive.
“I can see myself utilising his jab against him. That’s what they’ll use to set up their attacks and I’ll be using his jabs to set up my movement and positioning. It’s a great match-up.
“I’m very grateful to finally get the fight but I feel I’ve worked hard enough to be there.”
In 2012, when Trout was still world champion, his mandatory challenger was Anthony Mundine. "The Man", a long-time target of Dawson, opted against taking the fight.
“Since Mundine came down to light-middleweight we’ve been trying to get a match on with him and they’ve been saying it’s not the right time yet, it’s not the right time yet. Then they said maybe this year it’s going to happen,” Dawson said.
“But now this has come up for us. I’m not going to say any fight is harder or easier than another, we just wanted to put myself up against the best of the best in the division and right now, considering how Mundine’s gone in the last few fights and who Trout has fought, we chose Trout over Mundine.”
And should Dawson pull off an upset against the New Mexico southpaw, what then?
“Once I beat him – not if! – we’re looking at maybe a chance against the winner of Alvarez and Lara,” he said.
That would be a dream come true, although Dawson agrees it may be stretching it too far to try to get ‘Canelo’ or Lara at the WA Italian Club in north Perth. “Hahaha, I don’t know if we could fit Lara’s entourage in the Italian Club,” he said.
“But there one thing about my fights at the Italian Club, they’re not available to view for Trout and his people. They don’t really know the improvement I’ve made.
"They’re looking at maybe the Dzinziruk fight, maybe the Geale fight, possibly LoPorto. They are going to get a huge shock and a very different fighter."
Dawson, the regional Pan-Asian Boxing Association champion, says he will head to America about 10 days before the fight.
Dawson is currently ranked 13 by the WBA, with Trout at seven.