Dawson vs. Johnson Biggest Surprise of the Night

tarver woodsBy Paul Strauss, photo by Tom Casino / Showtime -- Saturday Night's most exciting fight also proved to be it's most controversial. Leading up to the fight, it seemed Chad Dawson would be too big, too fast, and too young for the aging legs of the 39 yr old Glen Johnson. However, Dawson did not fight a smart fight, electing to get into a slugging match with Johnson, which made it a much harder fight for him. There is no doubt Johnson fought an impressive fight, and stayed strong to the very end, but It appeared his success was due more to Dawson's poor choices, then to his own strategy.

This was evident during those times when Dawson did follow his corners' instructions to box, move and throw combinations. He would easily win rounds, or portions of rounds, when he followed instructions. But, when he stopped jabbing and fell in close, Johnson would score with short effective punches. Then Dawson wasn't able to move as much, because of Johnson's success in landing body punches, and his hands started to drop as well. Johnson kept the pressure on, and tried to keep his left foot outside of Dawson's right to cut him off, so he would be able to land the big right.

When he did, he had Dawson badly hurt, so much so he barely escaped getting KO'd in the 9th round. But, to Dawson's credit, he did weather the storm, and was able to regain some momentum. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dawson's trainer, yelled and pleaded with him to box, but in the later rounds, it appeared Dawson was the more tired of the two fighters, and he just couldn't consistently use his legs to stay out of range for a whole round. That's not to say that he wasn't landing big punches of his own, and controlling big chunks of the rounds. But, when the unanimous decision was announced with all three judges seeing the fight the same at 116-112, the crowd moaned its disapproval.

Most of the fans saw it as a much closer fight, maybe a draw or at most a one point victory. That would have been more palatable. A post-fight text message survey had 80% of the participants stating they were most impressed with Johnson, more so than with the winners of the four fights. Johnson has had more than his share of hard luck, and it's a shame, because he is a great guy, and an exciting fighter.

The rest of the night was also exciting, but carried no surprises. Tarver out boxed Woods, and he repeatedly landed straight lefts, and left uppercuts. Woods failed to come in behind a jab, electing to employ a peek-a-boo style, with little or no head movement, which made him a target. Tarver easily penetrated it, and came away with a unanimous decision. This fight had none of the real excitement or suspense of the first light-heavy bout. Tarver now wants Dawson.

Margarito was on his way to breaking his own punch output record when a hard left sent Cintron to the canvas to end the fight. Prior to that it appeared Cintron was looking for a way out. On a couple of occasions he ignored boxing's cardinal rule to "protect yourself at all times" when he would turn to the referee to complain about getting hit in the back of the head. However, the fault was much of his own, as he would bend over below the waist, and elect to stay there to avoid the Tijuana Tornado's body shots. Early on Cintron landed some big punches, but Margarito hardly paid any notice, and continued with unbelievable pressure. He wouldn't give Cintron time to catch his breath, and in the sixth it was all over. Cintron was counted out from a body punch, while Margarito stood in the neutral corner, yelling and gesturing for him to get up! Tony had plenty left to dole out if necessary.

Emanual Stewart might have put the Cotto vs. Gomez fight best, when he said it was kind of like sparring for Cotto. It's not that Gomez isn't a good fighter. Rather, it's just that Cotto is so good. Cotto did everything he wanted to do. He landed hard left jabs that were so powerful, he scored a knockdown with one. He was so fluid in his movement, darting in, landing a combination, and then darting back out, Gomez just wasn't able to catch up with Cotto's speed. It's amazing to watch Cotto flow in and out of an orthodox stance to a southpaw one and then back again.

He does it so effortlessly. It appears he is just getting angles, which of course he is doing. No one around right now seems to have that type of ability When you couple that with his power, well it spells big trouble for his opponents. Gomez was no exception. He came to fight, and he definitely has a big heart, but he was simply outclassed. The ring doctor was watching him closely, and cautioned him a couple of times that he wasn't going to allow him to take much more punishment. Gomez insisted he was alright, but it was obvious he wasn't.

He was knocked down once by a stiff jab, and another time by a body shot. There was an early knockdown credited to Cotto as well, but the replay showed no punch landed, and Gomez had just lost his balance from the two fighters getting their feet tangled. Regardless, he was taking a bad beating. Beginning with the first round his nose started to swell, and his face got red. It only got worse from there on, leaving the doctor no choice but to request the referee stop the fight after the fifth round. After the fight, Larry Merchant asked Cotto if he was calling out Mayweather? Cotto, as always, said that decision was for his manager and promoter, adding he is willing to fight anyone.

Manny Stewart expressed the opinion that if Cotto spoke out himself, challenging Mayweather, maybe even calling him a couple of bad names, that the fight could probably be made. Larry Merchant disagreed, stating Cotto was right in leaving it up to others, and staying above the insults and bad behavior. By the way, that's what Glen Johnson said as well when asked about his reputation as the "gentleman". He simply said he was better than that (meaning the insulting behavior of some fighters.). I agree. Bad behavior doesn't make fights, and it gives the sport of boxing a black-eye.

Article posted on 12.04.2008

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