Dawson vs. Tarver: Implications of the Twelfth Round

boxingBy Ted Sares - Photo by Tom Casino / Showtime -- I'm ready to give Joe [Calzaghe] the opportunity to draw the curtain on his great career in front of his family and friends and 70,000 fans," and "It's the best fight in the light heavyweight division between two undefeated champions. --Chad Dawson

Pound for pound, [Chad Dawson] is the best fighter in the world – Floyd Mayweather Jr.

…there is nothing offensively in a boxing ring that Chad Dawson can’t do. --Al Bernstein

Most fans remember this one as a dominant 117-110 , 117-110, 118-109 UD for “Bad Chad Dawson. 27-0, who fights out of New Haven, Connecticut.. He now holds the IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles and many are touting him as the next coming as well as a Joe Calzahe’s conqueror in waiting (which may be one and the same). Against a fading Antonio Tarver, he controlled the pace, landed most of the meaningful punches, and was more far more active as he methodically wore out the “Magic Man.” All in all, he turned in an outstanding performance in which he lived up to his nickname.

But in retrospect, I am not totally sold on the current hype that asserts Chad Dawson could be the best light heavyweight in the world for years to come. Yes, he is indeed a gifted fighter with a full array of skills including a fighter’s mentality, incredible hand-speed, the rare ability to launch multiple (and I mean multiple) punch combinations which results in an impressive punch output, and a solid defense. However, sometimes a fighter’s strengths can be his weaknesses.

The Twelfth Round

Tarver, though throwing one punch at time, started coming on in round eleven as “Bad” Chad showed a bit of fatigue. As the twelfth round unfolded, a story within a story almost occurred and exposed (at least to me) some weaknesses in Dawson’s gaudy dossier.

At the bell, Chad came out strong, despite being told by his corner to “be careful,” and with 2:11 left in the round, scored a knockdown of sorts against Tarver, but it was more stumble than substance. He then went after the “Magic Man” with a fury. In so doing, he displayed a fighter’s mentality, but that’s exactly what he should not have been doing. He had the fight locked up and should have known that tough as teak Tarver had never been stopped. Moreover, Dawson, though gritty, does not have that kind of late round power. His real mistake here, however, was that he did not have the smarts to stay out of harm’s way.

With a sense of urgency, Tarver opened up at around the 2.00 mark and seemed to stun the less experienced Dawson with some jolting shots. With 22 seconds remaining, he stalked Dawson down landing some uppercuts, but they lacked the pop to do much damage.

ESPN writer Dan Rafael said in an October 11, 2008 piece, in part: “Dawson didn't finish him, but if there were any questions whatsoever about the outcome, he put them to rest in a dominant final round, when he dropped Tarver to his backside with a right hand.”

I have reviewed the youtube ad nauseam and I did not quite see it like that. Yes, Dawson did win the round cleanly, but the manner in which he did it might just have given his future opponents something to work with.

Calzaghe and the Future

Chad Dawson has the tools to remain a great champion. He needs to know his limitations (unless he thinks he has none); he must work on his stamina (which also was an issue in his close and controversial decision win over Glen Johnson); and he needs to stay focused for each and very round. “Bad” Chad tends to fight in spurts and then takes time off to recoup his energy--unlike, say, a Joe Calzaghe or Glen Johnson who fight and fight and fight with no time off—and as does another guy who lurks by the name of Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu.

If, in fact, Dawson is Calzaghe‘s next opponent (assuming Joe fights on), will his style be made to order for the Pride of Wales? Will he be able to cope with Joe’s constant pressure (remember how Chad struggled in the Johnson fight), remarkable stamina (which allows for incredible punch volume which allows for taking an opponent out of his game), and his high ring IQ?

Time will tell if there is a new king in town who can clear out a light-heavyweight division seemingly full of “aging legends.”

Article posted on 13.11.2008

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