Chad Dawson continued his climb back toward light heavyweight title contention by defeating Denis Grachev on Friday night.

The former IBF/IBO/WBC 175-pound champion out-boxed the Russian veteran throughout their unremarkable eight-round fight at Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Dawson won a unanimous decision, as judges Ken Ezzo (80-72), Glenn Feldman (79-73) and Don Trella (80-72) all had the southpaw ahead by wide distances.

The 37-year-old Dawson (36-5, 19 KOs, 2 NC) won a second straight fight since resuming his career earlier this year. Before his eight-round, unanimous-decision win over Quinton Rankin on June 29, the New Haven, Connecticut, native hadn’t fought in more than two years after Andrzej Fonfara stopped him in the 10th round of their March 2017 bout.

The shorter, slower Grachev, who’s also 37, dropped to 19-9-1 (10 KOs).

“I felt good,” Dawson said. “After each fight, you look for something different to do, something to work on. I seen a lot of stuff I need to work on, you know, back to the drawing board. Whatever’s next, I’m ready for. This [regional] belt right here is just one step closer to achieving my ultimate dream, which is winning another world title before I go. I’m 37 years old. I feel like I’m 25, so hey, I’m ready for any of the guys at the top. Any of ‘em want me, wanna come test me, the better the competition, the better I’m gonna perform, so there you go.”

Other than the sixth round, when Grachev caught Dawson with a right hand, Dawson cruised to a relatively easy victory.

Dawson continued controlling the action throughout the eighth and final round by occasionally landing left hands and avoiding Grachev’s punches. Dawson landed two clean left hands within the final 30 seconds of the seventh round.

A straight left hand by Dawson wobbled Grachev about 1:15 into the sixth round. Dawson tried to follow up, but Grachev drilled Dawson with a right hand that buzzed him.

Grachev followed Dawson to the ropes and unloaded some power shots, but Dawson withstood that trouble.

Grachev backed Dawson against the ropes just after the midway mark of the fifth round. He landed a straight right hand that made Dawson bob and weave.

Dawson connected with two hard right hands to Grachev’s body, which pushed the action back toward the center of the ring.

Dawson slipped most of Grachev’s punches in the fourth round. Dawson also snuck in a right uppercut toward the end of the fourth.

Grachev missed most of the punches he threw during the third round. Dawson landed a right to the body, followed by a left up top just before the third round ended.

Both boxers slipped and went to the canvas within the first half of the third round.

Dawson worked off his jab and consistently moved out of Grachev’s punching range during the second round. Dawson landed two straight left hands during the final 45 seconds of what was largely an uneventful first round.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.