Dawson-Tarver - Will Youth Be Served?

by James Slater: In giving up his WBC light-heavyweight crown so as to face Antonio Tarver (or so as to avoid Adrian Diaconu, depending on your opinion), Chad Dawson is taking a big gamble. Should he lose to Tarver in the October 11th IBF title bout, "Bad Chad" will be left with nothing, and perhaps wishing he'd hung on to his WBC strap - even if it meant a trip to Romania and an also risky fight against "The Shark." Either way, it seems, the unbeaten 26-year-old had a tough decision in front of him..

Has Dawson made the correct one?

The fight with Tarver is about as close to a 50/50 affair as could be contested in today's 175-pound weight class. IBF boss Tarver may be much the older man, and Dawson will surely be thinking/hoping this factor will prove paramount when fight night arrives, but "The Magic Man" is a boxer who can be a marvel at turning back the clock. He did it last time out against Britain's tough Clinton Woods (admittedly himself no spring chicken). And in two of his three fights with Roy Jones, who is almost the same age as Tarver, Antonio looked like a young and hungry fighter - which, in a sense, he was. Age, apart from in the 39-year-old's loss to another man who sticks two fingers up at Father Time in Bernard Hopkins, has meant nothing to Tarver. And even against B-Hop, it may have been more a case of Tarver having to lose the weight he added to be a movie star, as apposed to his age affecting him.

But will he grow old overnight in the fight with fellow southpaw Dawson? It's possible. Very fast, of both hand and foot, Dawson is a much better fighter than he appeared to be in his last fight - against yet another veteran of the division in "Road Warrior" Glen Johnson. It was the struggle against Johnson that made Tarver believe, more than anything else, that he could take the decade-plus younger man. Hit plenty by Johnson, Dawson had the appearance of a beatable fighter. Some fans went even further and claimed Dawson WAS a beaten fighter, only to get an unjust unanimous decision win.

Make no mistake, October's showdown is both Dawson's fight to lose and his fight to regain some respect. If he can beat Antonio Tarver convincingly, by KO preferably, Chad will be seen as being bad again - very much so. But Tarver is one tough mother to knock out - as more than capable fighters such as Jones, Reggie Johnson, Eric Harding, Montell Griffin and others have found out. All four of Tarver's losses have come via decision and, apart from the first and last of these defeats, to Eric Harding (subsequently avenged by KO) and Hopkins, respectively, they have all been very close fights. As much as Chad Dawson feels otherwise, October 11th's fight will be another close contest.

An almost guaranteed distance fight in this writer's opinion, it wouldn't surprise me to see Tarver and Dawson engage in a chess match for long periods. Some may call it boring, others engrossing. Either way, there ain't gonna be a KO! Two southpaws who don't have a noteworthy KO between them in years - how is this fight not going to go 12 rounds?

Will youth be served? It will be in as much as Chad Dawson won't quite feel the pace as much as Tarver does ( even chess matches can be tiring!), but in terms of deciding a winner - no, it won't. Tarver by a split decision for me. Dawson's move is one he will live to regret after all.

Article posted on 01.08.2008

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