Majestic Antonio Tarver Rolls Back The Years With Superb Performance Against Clinton Woods

tarver woodsby James Slater, photo by Tom Casino / Showtime -- Last night, in Tampa, Florida, 39 year old Antonio "Magic Man" Tarver more than lived up to his name as he scored a clear and dominant points win to relieve Britain's Clinton Woods of his IBF 175 pound belt. Putting on a near master class, Tarver won by commanding scores of 119-109, 117-111 and a surprisingly close 116-112.

Thought by many to be way past his best, this writer included, Tarver instead boxed one of his best ever performances last night. Woods, it has to be said, was a big disappointment. The brave man from Sheffield didn't stop trying, he simply could not cope with the seed and skill level of the four years older man..

The fight was never a great battle - a few bursts of good action in the occasional round aside - but Tarver's grace, class and boxing brilliance was something to see. Basically, Tarver got into his groove almost as soon as the first bell rang, and Woods could do nothing to get him out of it. Over the first half of the fight this writer was unable to give a single round to Woods - such was Tarver's excellence at controlling the pace, dictating the action and implementing his clever defensive moves. The 39 year old also hurt Woods at times, letting his hands go in piston-like combinations.

Throughout the entire bout, Woods' only effective work was his occasional body shot. Woods displayed his usual sturdy chin, however. Hurt badly in round number eleven in particular, when a big left hand crashed into his head, Woods had to grit his teeth to get to the bell. This he did, though, in what was likely the best action round of the fight. Woods, his face swollen and his head spinning, came roaring back at Tarver and for a few seconds it looked like a temporary war might break out. The booing, which had been heard in some of the earlier rounds, was now very much silent.

Going into the final round, Tarver went looking for the KO. Letting it all hang out, the IBO belt holder totally dominated the last three minutes - basically putting the finishing touches to a performance that saw him control things all night. Woods made it to the finish line, yet upon doing so knew he'd been well beaten. Tarver raised his hands at the final bell, Woods did not.

Now a recognised world champion yet again, the future for Tarver, who with the win improved to 27-4(19), will be most interesting to say the least. The man many felt looked a shot fighter a few months back when losing badly to Bernard Hopkins, proved he is no such thing. As for the beaten Clinton Woods, who fell to 41-4-1(25) retirement may well be on the cards.

Article posted on 13.04.2008

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