A Look At Dawson vs Tarver II

Chad Dawson07.05.09 -By Doveed Linder - This Saturday, light heavyweight champion “Bad” Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs) will defend his IBF and IBO titles against Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver (27-5, 19 KOs) at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a rematch of a fight that took place in October of last year, where Dawson won via unanimous decision.

With all of the excitement from the Pacquiao/Hatton fight last weekend, Dawson/Tarver II has been given little attention by the media, plus there isn’t a great deal of anticipation in the first place. This is not a fight that the boxing world demands by any means, as Dawson won convincingly the first time leaving no questions unanswered. But Tarver is exercising his right to a rematch, so the fight is going forward. The most intriguing thing that can be said about this match-up is that Tarver has never lost a rematch before, though it’s very likely that he will lose THIS rematch..

At age 26, Chad Dawson appears to be the future of the light heavyweight division. He’s undefeated and he holds wins over Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek, and Glen Johnson. He also has an 11th round TKO victory over Ian Gardner, the man who knocked out Deandre Latimore early in his career. Dawson has fast hands, good movement, and a high work rate, which could make him tough for anyone to deal with. The recent victory over Antonio Tarver is his greatest accomplishment to date. And even though Tarver seems to be past his prime, it’s still a victory of some significance.

At age 40, the end of the line is approaching for Antonio Tarver. He is a heavy underdog in this fight and if he loses it’s unlikely that the boxing world will see him again in a fight of great significance. But Tarver shook up the boxing world at a time when the light heavyweight division was desperate for something fresh and exciting. He’s made some good contributions to the sport and it’s worth reflecting on his career.

On his rise to the top, Tarver scored wins over Reggie Johnson, Eric Harding, and Montell Griffin. When he faced Roy Jones, Jr. in November of 2003, he had only one loss on his record that came against Eric Harding, which was avenged via 5th round TKO. Before the fight with Jones, Tarver told everyone from here to China that he would be the first man to ever convincingly beat the man who many regarded as the best fighter in the world (at the time, Jones’ only loss came via disqualification against Montell Griffin). Tarver didn’t exactly make good on his word, but he did give Jones the toughest fight of his career, losing a majority decision. The fight was so competitive that a rematch was in order.

In May of 2004, Tarver faced Jones in a rematch and knocked him out in the 2nd round with his trademark left hand. This tremendous upset came as a total shock, as no one could have predicted it going in. Tarver was then considered the best light heavyweight on the scene and many considered him among the top 10 fighters in the world.

After the fight with Jones, Tarver faced Glen Johnson and lost via split decision. He then faced Johnson in a rematch and won a decision, reinforcing the idea that he can’t be beaten twice. Following the fights with Johnson, he took on Jones in a rubber match and won a decision.

Around this time, Tarver was becoming a very recognizable face, even outside the boxing world. He had already appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and he landed a big role in the sixth installment of the “Rocky” series, “Rocky Balboa”. Shortly after the filming of “Rocky Balboa”, Tarver faced Bernard Hopkins who had just made the move from middleweight to light heavyweight. Many regarded Tarver as the favorite going in, but it proved to be the most convincing loss of his career as Hopkins won practically every minute of every round.

Following the Hopkins fight, Tarver racked up three consecutive wins over Elvir Muriqi, Danny Santiago, and Clinton Woods. His next fight came against Chad Dawson, where he was thoroughly out-worked by the younger, hungrier fighter.

The keys to victory for Dawson/Tarver II are quite simple. For Dawson to win, he needs to use his speed and movement, throw combinations, and outwork his opponent. For Tarver to win, he needs to land a big left hand and knock him out. Tarver won’t be able to keep up with Dawson’s work rate and his only chance is to use his power, which he still has. While Dawson won convincingly the last time, it seemed that he did just enough to get the victory. There were moments where Tarver appeared vulnerable and maybe even hurt, but Dawson seemed to let up a bit and didn’t explore the possibility of a knockout. This time around, Dawson could make an even stronger case for himself if he bites down a little harder and takes his dominance to a whole new level.

If Dawson wins, Glen Johnson might be his best option for his next fight. Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones, Jr. are the superstars at light heavyweight, but they are currently pursuing other things. A fight with Johnson, however, would be meaningful as many feel that Dawson lost to him the first time around and that there’s still a lot of unfinished business.

If Tarver wins, it seems that a rubber match would be in order. But in all likelihood, Dawson will win and Tarver’s options will be limited. But Antonio Tarver has done well for himself as a prizefighter. He’s made some great accomplishments in and out of the ring and the fact that he was able to overcome a drug addiction early in his life might be his greatest accomplishment of all. He’s an amazing person, he has a funny and outspoken personality, and he’s been good for boxing.

Article posted on 07.05.2009

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