Untangling the Light Heavyweight Web: Tarver-Woods and Dawson-Johnson fights will bring Clarity

Chad DawsonBy Phil Santos – - On April 12th four of the top six Light Heavyweights in the world, as rated by the Ring Magazine, will be in action against one another. In addition to the three World Titles that will be placed on the line that night will be a shot for the winners to catapult themselves into position to challenge the current Ring Champion, Bernard Hopkins. Clinton Woods, the IBF Champion, will face off against IBO title holder Antonio Tarver in the nights Co-Feature and Chad Dawson, the WBC Champion, will battle grizzled veteran and former World Champion Glen Johnson in the Main Event.

Three of these four combatants are no strangers to each other. Glen Johnson and Clinton Woods have fought three times with each man winning once and one match ending in a Draw. Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson have clashed twice resulting in a decision win for Johnson in their first match followed by a decision victory for Tarver in the rematch. Their career parallels don’t end there. Both Johnson and Tarver have suffered defeats at the hands of Bernard Hopkins. Johnson lost to Hopkins in 1997 while vying for the IBF Middleweight championship and Tarver dropped a lopsided decision in 2006. Both Tarver and Johnson hold career defining wins over the great Roy Jones while Clinton Woods was knocked in the 6th round during his bout with Jones in 2002.

The wildcard in these two match-ups, the one relatively untested fighter at least by comparison, is Chad Dawson. Dawson cannot claim to have the experience that Tarver, Woods or his opponent Glen Johnson possesses. He has not gone to war with another of the elite fighters within the division or notched a career defining win. He does, however, have an opportunity to do something that none of the others can hope to. At 26 years old and already a World Champion Chad Dawson has the potential to rule the division for the next decade. A victory over a well respected veteran in Glen Johnson would certainly be a step toward asserting himself as a viable heir to the throne now occupied by B-Hop and once ruled by Roy Jones Jr.

The once barren division is now brimming with talent. The question is what does the future hold? What if Glen Johnson manages to derail Chad Dawson? Is there another young stud at 175 with the ability of overthrowing the veteran crop that has held the division hostage for so long? Is Zsolt Erdei that man, or perhaps Adrian Diaconu? Or will we witness a meteoric reemergence of a Roy Jones Jr. return to title contention? These are all questions that a Dawson loss would bring to the forefront.

The Predictions:

Antonio Tarver vs. Clinton Woods

Since losing his highly anticipated bout with Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver has scored wins over Elvir Muriqi and Danny Santiago. His win over Muriqi was much more difficult than expected and his knockout of Santiago was the result of Tarver taking advantage of a completely overmatched opponent. I scored both of these fights from ringside and while Tarver looked in great shape he has begun to show his 39 years of age. He beat Santiago soundly but showed from the outset that he had no respect for him or his power and proceeded to stop him with relative ease. As for Muriqi, Tarver was testes for all 12 rounds and barely managed to squeak out a Majority Decision. He fought well only in spurts and took far too many rounds off against an opponent who most figured he could handle without much difficulty. Tarver is 4-2 (1) over his last six fights with his losses coming to Glen Johnson and Bernard Hopkins.

Clinton Woods has put together a solid win streak since losing to Glen Johnson in 2004. He has posted wins over Julio Cesar Gonzalez twice, Glen Johnson and he handed Rico Hoye his first defeat by knocking him out in 5 rounds. Woods seems to be fighting as well as he ever has right now and for that matter what better time to face Tarver. While Woods is no youngster himself at 35 yet he appears to be the fresher fighter at this point in their careers. Woods is 6-0 (3) over his last six fights.

I expect a tactical fight with neither fighter willing to put themselves in a dangerous position. Clinton Woods should be able to take Tarver into the later rounds and eventually wear him down. Tarver has a good chin and I don’t expect Woods to stop him but I do expect him to box his way to a decision win.

Clinton Woods by Majority Decision over Antonio Tarver

Chad Dawson vs. Glen Johnson

What Chad Dawson lacks in experience he makes up for with lightning quick hands, good power and excellent technical skills. Wins over Eric Harding and Tomasz Adamek are his most significant to date and in both of those fights Dawson hit the canvas. He has shown the ability to get up off the mat and pick up the win which may come in handy against the top dogs at Light Heavyweight. Dawson has an outstanding jab and his knack for stringing together combinations often overwhelm opponents. Dawson is 6-0 (3) over his last six fights.

Glen Johnson is the definition of a warrior. Johnson has fought everyone out there and over the last decade has established himself as a force at 175. Wins over Jones Jr., Tarver, Woods and Montell Griffin only begin to tell the story of Glen Johnson’s career. Johnson has suffered through 2, 3 and 4 fight losing streaks only to bounce back stronger and better that ever. He possesses a relentless style that pressures opponents from start to finish. Johnson has a sturdy chin having been stopped only once over 60 fights as a pro. The other key intangible that Johnson brings to the table is his experience in championship or just plain big time fights. Johnson is 5-1 (3) over his last six fights with his only loss coming to Clinton Woods.

Clearly Dawson knows his key to victory is to avoid getting caught by anything big and to attack Johnson from the outside while maintaining steady movement. For Johnson the recipe will be steady aggression and looking to take the fight right to Dawson’s chest. Johnson’s best chance is fighting on the inside, closing off the ring and forcing Dawson into numerous exchanges. I see Johnson pressuring Dawson early and scoring well to the body and possibly even hurting him. As the fight wears on Dawson should settle in against the best fighter he has ever faced and take Johnson apart with his quickness.

Chad Dawson by Unanimous Decision over Glen Johnson

Article posted on 21.03.2008

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