PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - February 04, 2021  
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Story by Danny Ziccardi
File Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr/.


West Philadelphia’s Mark Dawson (7-0-1, 3 KOs) will take on Derrick Whitley Jr. (6-1-1, with 1 ND) on Saturday, February 6th at 2300 Arena. This will be the first bump up in competition for Dawson as he takes on a formidable opponent in Whitley for his first professional eight rounder.

“This is my first 8 round fight,” Dawson said. “I’m not worried about it, I’ve been fighting my whole life, and have been training for eight-rounders. I train twice a day. I am hungry and ready.”

Dawson recognizes that Whitley will be a good test for him as he continues to climb the ranks, and acknowledges that both fighters need a victory in the upcoming bout.

“We both need this fight,” he said. “(Whitley) is 6-1; I am 7-0. He needs this fight to come back. I need this fight to get to the next level. We both need to prove ourselves in this fight. I’m just happy and humbled that he took the fight. I just hope he gives his best effort, and may the best man win.”   

Rivers versus Whitley (right)

Derrick Whitley Jr.’s lone loss came to Philadelphia’s Marcel Rivers back in 2019 at 2300 Arena. 

”I know he fought someone from Philly before, Marcel Rivers, and his one loss was to Rivers at the 2300 arena. So, I know that is in the back of his head,” Dawson added.

While Whitley is coming from Springfield, Massachusetts for this bout, Dawson will be fighting in his own backyard. The West Philadelphia native feels a sense of pride and responsibility to his neighborhood.

“My neighborhood where I came from drives me,” he said. “In West Philadelphia, I feel like a superhero. They see me doing positive things, and they seem to look up to me. There’s a lot of shooting down there. I feel like I’m holding the flag for us to be successful, and show the youth you can do something positive with your life if you work hard at it and go a different route.”  

Dawson has a very strong amateur pedigree, including being a member of Team USA and many national titles, which shot him into the professional ranks. He has a depth of experience working with some of the sharpest minds of the business.

“Anthony ‘Cobra’ Williams (former successful Philadelphia lightweight from 1982-1991) is my trainer. I’ve worked with many top guys in the amateurs like Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs”, Dawson said.

After turning professional, Dawson has made himself a real prospect in the welterweight division, stringing together an unbeaten record over his first seven bouts. Dawson is excited to climb the ranks and continue to get good fights.

“I want to stay active over these next few years,” he said. “Starting February 6th, I am fighting all guys with winning records, the stakes are going to be higher much early on. Give me the harder fights. They will either make or break you.”

Dawson anticipates his rise to a title will be attributed to his focus, discipline and patience.

“There are a lot of distractions for young fighters. I am able to stay focused and patient during this rise. My best skill in the ring is my thinking and my adjustments. I can adjust to every level and adapt to different styles. I put everything into the sport,” he said.

Dawson’s ultimate goal is to get a title. He also has a specific match up for the future that intrigues him. 

“I would love to fight Terence Crawford one day,” he said. “I just feel like me and him would be a perfect fight. That’s a dream match up for me in the future. The young lion from Philadelphia versus the Old Lion!”  

After boxing, Mark Dawson hopes to get into business and make an impact in his community. Teaching kids to stay away from drugs is important to Dawson, as he’s seen it impact his neighborhood. Dawson has another venture that he would like to get into as well.

“I plan on Starting Dawson Homecare,” he said. “I plan on launching that pretty soon. Taking care of people with physical disabilities and needs is an important need in the community. I have a few different business ideas. After I win a belt, I would like to get into business.”,

Mark Dawson continues his journey to the top taking on Derrick Whitley Jr. on Saturday, February 6th, at the 2300 Arena in South Philly. The card is promoted by Rodney Rice’s RDR Promotions.  

“I feel like I’m going to get a lot of calls after this fight,” Dawson said. “I am still young and hungry, and this is a step up for me. I needed this fight.”

The card can be purchased for viewing on or the FITE app for $9.99.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Dawson did not make weight for his fight with Derrick Whitley, so the match was scratched the night before fight night.]




Danny Ziccardi - Philadelphia - February 04, 2021