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Dawson going with Mustafa

When light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson (24-0, 16 KOs) defends his title Sept. 29 (10 p.m. ET/PT, Showtime free preview weekend) against mandatory challenger Adrian Diaconu (24-0, 15 KOs) at Arco Arena in Sacramento, he will have a new face in his corner. Gone is trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., who has been replaced by Eddie Mustafa.

"I've learned so much from my new trainer in the first five weeks of training for this fight," Dawson said at a news conference this week announcing the bout. "I will have a tough fighter in front of me but I will do what I have to do to win."

But why did the southpaw change trainers?

"I felt like I had to make a change," Dawson, 25, said. "Floyd is a great trainer, but our personalities just weren't clicking. Mustafa understands what I need to do to get better. I am still young and learning every day. Eddie is great at identifying weaknesses and making them disappear."

Mayweather had taken over for two-time trainer of the year Dan Birmingham and was in Dawson's corner when he survived a late knockdown to outpoint Tomasz Adamek to win the title on Feb. 3. Mayweather was also with him for his first defense, a sixth-round TKO of Jesus "Chuy" Ruiz on June 9.

Mike Criscio, Dawson's manager, said changing trainers again will not be a problem.

"I have known Chad since he was 11 years old," Criscio said. "I have seen him go from a boy, to a teenager, and now to a man. Simply put, Dawson is a phenomenal athlete. Just about any trainer can be with him at this point in his career and win with him."

Abraham almost breaks record: Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham is more than just a boxer. He is also an expert at jumping rope. According to promoter Sauerland Events, Abraham just missed breaking the speed rope-skipping world record during a live appearance on a "Guinness World Records" show Sept. 1 in Germany. Abraham notched 237 speed skips in a minute, just four off the record of 241.

"I would have loved to set a new record," Abraham said. "It would have been an honor to find my name in the Guinness Book of Records. I got quite close."

Like many boxers, Abraham uses rope skipping in his training regimen.

"I've been doing it a lot in practice and also during the preparation for the fight against Khoren Gevor," he said. "I knew it was hard to set a new record, but I really wanted to give it a shot."

Later in the show, Olga Berberich, a 23-year-old fitness coach, set a record with 251 skips in a minute.

Abraham (24-0, 19 KOs), who knocked Gevor out in the 11th round on Aug. 18 in his fifth defense, is slated for his next defense Dec. 8 in Germany.

&#8226; While waiting for a mandatory shot against the winner of the Oct. 13 Sultan Ibragimov-Evander Holyfield heavyweight title bout, Tony Thompson, 35, is going to stay active rather than simply sitting on his status. Thompson will return to action Sept. 27 in a 10-rounder in Lemoore, Calif., against an opponent to be named. Thompson (30-1, 18 KOs) earned a title bout by knocking out Luan Krasniqi in the fifth round July 14 in Germany. Thompson would have preferred to face Ibragimov next month, but when Ruslan Chagaev withdrew because of illness from a unification fight against Ibragimov, he elected to fight Holyfield. "I was ready to step in when Chagaev pulled out," Thompson said. "It was Ibragimov's choice, not mine. Fighting Holyfield rather than me again shows why I am the most-avoided heavyweight in the world today. But I've waited this long, I can wait a few extra months."

&#8226; Former heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson, 35, sidelined because of a March 2006 knee injury suffered in a no-contest against Javier Mora, is ready to resume his career and is in the process of securing a release from promoter Dino Duva, John Hornewer, Johnson's attorney, told ESPN.com. Hornewer said Johnson has been prepared to box since December, but that Duva has been unable to line up a fight and that the sides finally agreed to a release. "All Kirk wants to do is fight and try to get going again," Hornewer said. "He's healthy now and looking for a fresh start." Johnson's career has been on the slide since 2002, when, as a big favorite, he lost his only title fight by disqualification for low blows against John Ruiz. Johnson (36-2-1, 26 KOs), who owns a 2000 knockout win against titleholder Oleg Maskaev, suffered his second loss via second-round knockout to Vitali Klitschko in a 2003 eliminator that he showed up for grossly out of shape.

&#8226; Want to get publicity for a small card? Go for a gimmick such as a winner-take-all fight. When journeymen heavyweights Zach Page and Jermell Barnes meet in a rematch Friday night in Reading, Pa., only the winner will earn a purse, according to organizers. They battled to a draw last fall. In the low-budget rematch, the winner will walk away with the entire $2,500 purse and the loser gets zip.

&#8226; Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz announced that he has signed 2004 National Golden Gloves featherweight champion Teon Kennedy, 21, of Philadelphia. Peltz said Kennedy (5-0, 3 KOs) reminds him of a young Jeff Chandler, the Hall of Fame ex-bantamweight champ from Philadelphia, whom Peltz promoted from 1976 to 1984. "Because of his amateur background, Teon is more advanced at this stage than Jeff, who only had two amateur fights," Peltz said. "We're banking on Teon moving up the ladder by fighting the best, the same way Jeff did it." Kennedy will fight Oct. 5 in Philly.