Chad Dawson ready for ring return

Chad Dawson, a longtime fixture in the pound-for-pound rankings, won a light heavyweight world title by decision in a rematch against Bernard Hopkins in an excellent performance in April 2012. But it's been downhill since for Dawson.

Five months later, he made the ill-advised decision to drop down to super middleweight and challenge champion Andre Ward, who battered the weight-drained Dawson, knocked him down three times and stopped him in the 10th round.

Although Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs), from New Haven, Conn., went back up to light heavyweight to defend his title in his next fight last June, he fared no better and got drilled with one punch in 76 seconds by Adonis Stevenson in the 2013 knockout of the year.

Many left Dawson's career for dead after that, and he has not fought since. But he will be back on Saturday night (Showtime Extreme, 8 ET/PT) looking to launch another title run. Dawson will face Indianapolis journeyman George Blades (23-5, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder on the undercard of the show (Showtime, 10 ET/7 PT) headlined by welterweight Robert Guerrero against Yoshihiro Kamegai.

Dawson said he has put the defeats behind him and expects to get himself right back in the title mix.

“I'm coming off losses in my last two fights, but nothing's changed,” said Dawson, who recently signed with adviser Al Haymon. “I’m just back to being myself. I'm working hard with [trainer] Eddie [Mustafa Muhammad] and doing the right things. I've been training for this fight for about two months."

Dawson, who will turn 32 on July 13, has been training with Muhammad in Las Vegas and considers Saturday’s fight to be a fresh start.

“I’m getting ready for the second chapter of my career," Dawson said. “I'm back to ‘Bad’ Chad."

Besides beating Hopkins, Dawson also has wins against Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson (twice each), Tomasz Adamek and Adrian Diaconu.

The 39-year-old Blades has never beaten a top opponent, but he got a world title shot in 2007 and got knocked out by Zsolt Erdei in the 11th round. The only name opponent he has faced was former champion Jean Pascal in his last fight in September. Pascal, who also owns a win against Dawson, knocked Erdei out in the fifth round.