Antonio Tarver Returns to Form; Dawson TKO's Ruiz

dawsonHARTFORD, Conn. (June 9, 2007) – Photos: TOM CASINO/SHOWTIME - Antonio Tarver and Chad Dawson set up a possible showdown with each other for later this year with victories Saturday on SHOWTIME. The brightest young star and one of the most accomplished veterans of the light heavyweight division won exciting contests Saturday on SHOWTIME at the Connecticut Convention Center.

Former two-time world champion Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver did enough to get past determined Elvir Muriqi to win a controversial close majority boxing decision and the vacant International Boxing Organization (IBO) 175-pound title. And undefeated 24-year old “Bad” Chad Dawson registered a sixth-round TKO over Jesus “Chuy” Ruiz in the first defense of his World Boxing Council (WBC) title.

It took about four rounds for the magic to return for Tarver but when it did he seemingly took control of the bout. Muriqi of Bronx, NY, won more than a few of the early rounds, and a lot of fans with a valiant and exciting effort.

antonio tarverFighting from the inside, Muriqi seemed to surprise Tarver with some big shots and hard work to the body. But by the sixth, Tarver began landing crisp, punishing combinations in flurries to clearly outscore his opponent.

Muriqi never gave up and often fought back with vigor to the delight of the boxing fans. In the end, the near capacity crowd at Exhibit Hall was on its feet urging the fighters to the final bell.

The judges scored the contest 114 apiece, 116-112 and 115-113 for Tarver.

“I took a year off,” said Tarver of Tampa, Fla., who starred in the latest installment of the Rocky series opposite Sylvester Stallone, “but I felt great. I had a good time in there. I was rusty, but he was never in the fight. I took my time and I dominated.”

Regarding judge Steven Weisfeld, who scored the bout even, a furious Tarver told SHOWTIME boxing reporter Jim Gray, “That judge should be banned for judging in every state. That was ridiculous. Find out who he is.”

Tarver improved to 25-4, 18 KO’s on the night and says he is on a historic run to be the best light heavyweight in history. He is not planning any more long layoffs and hopes to return to the ring as early as September this year.

The crowd-pleasing, and highly regarded WBC champ, Dawson of New Haven, Conn., dominated his bout against a game Ruiz. Dawson displayed all of his offensive weapons before the bout was stopped in the sixth.

He opened the scoring with his impressive jab. By the second, Dawson fell into a rhythm and pressured Ruiz continually with well timed and powerful combinations. In the fourth, a devastating body punch clearly hurt Ruiz. Dawson continued to attack the body and head.

In the sixth, Dawson, clearly less than cautious of his opponent, landed jabs, hooks, uppercuts and a few straight left hands to force referee John Callas to halt the contest at two minutes of the round.

“I knew he wasn’t going to get by my jab,” said Dawson, who remains undefeated at 24-0, 16 KOs. “It’s too fast.

“My left hand went numb,” the southpaw continued. “My glove was laced up too tight, so I had to hold back with it. But everything works off the jab anyway.

antonio tarverWhen asked if he would like to face Tarver in his next world title defense, “I have youth on my side so I’ll fight anybody. Tarver is on his way out and I am on my way up.”

Ruiz, 33 of Long Beach, Calif., by way of Leon, Mexico, drops to 19-5, 17 KO’s.

Acclaimed play-by-play announcer Steve Albert called the action from ringside with renowned color man Al Bernstein commentating. The executive producer of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is David Dinkins, Jr. with Ray Smaltz producing and Bob Dunphy directing.


In March 1986, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING was born when “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler defeated John “The Beast” Mugabi in a spectacular and unforgettable 11th-round knockout in Las Vegas. Since that time, the network has aired some of the most historic and significant events in the sport including both Holyfield-Tyson bouts.

Always at the forefront of boxing, SHOWTIME has set itself apart by televising “great fights, no rights” on the first Saturday of every month. SHOWTIME is the first network to regularly deliver live boxing in High Definition. In addition, SHOWTIME continues to be a pioneer in sports television with a number of interactive features across multiple platforms making SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecasts the most enjoyable, immersive viewing experience for the boxing audience.

Article posted on 11.06.2007

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