|Tarver Chops Woods, Dawson Wins Controversial Decision
By Nate Edwards At Ringside (April 13, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)
In the main event of Showtime's TNT double-header, Antonio Tarver attained yet another alphabet title to add to his showcase by defeating IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Clinton Woods via unanimous decision. The fight started off with Woods trying to figure out Tarver, while Tarver was the aggressor, landing clean left counter uppercuts to the straight-forward Clinton Woods, as well as a few straight lefts. As the fight progressed, Woods would pick up the pace and attempt to bring the fight to Tarver with short combinations and body punching, but round after round, it seemed like
that wasn't enough. Woods was throwing punches and trying to pressure Tarver, but Tarver was working with a lot of angles, using clever defensive footwork, setting traps while countering Woods with left uppercuts, and hitting him flush with lead left hands.
In the 11th round, Tarver gained even more control when he landed a stunning left hand that momentarily dazed Woods, but the proud fighter from the United Kingdom showed his heart and his chin by throwing his hands up in the air, waving Tarver in for more, and then backing him into the ropes towards the end of the round in a fight that up to that point had been a tactical battle. The 12th round was more of the same, with Tarver trying to close the show, landing huge left-hand bombs on Woods, keeping him on the defensive until the final bell.
Official Scores: 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111, all in favor of current IBO Light Heavyweight Champion and new IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver.
My Score: 118-110 Tarver
At post-fight press conference, Tarver said of Woods: "He was real tough, but we expected that. The guy came over here, he had big dreams of coming to shut me down and stop the show, but they all come with that type of commitment when they fight me. But you know, I've got to match it. And as you saw, my facial expressions never changed. I was focused, I stayed in that fight, I knew I was doing what I had to do, and I wasn't going to be denied."
Clinton Woods was not available to comment at the post-fight press conference due to internal and external lacerations of his mouth.
In the co-main event, WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson and former IBF/IBO Glen Johnson fought a tough, back-and-forth battle that was by far the best fight of the night. It began with Dawson taking the initative, dazzling the crowd with his hand speed and combination punching in the first two rounds, while Johnson was seemingly trying to adjust to the tempo and Dawson's hand speed. In the 3rd, it looked like more of the same until Johnson came on late in the round to stun Dawson with a variety of uppercuts in a heavily-contested round. The 4th was a see-saw battle, but with Dawson landing the cleaner and more telling blows. In the 5th, Dawson was looking to exchange less, trying to win the round with his overall skill and footwork, but the very game 39 year-old from Jamaica was still pouring on the pressure, landing effective, chopping overhand rights over Dawson's guard. The tempo changed in the 6th however, as Dawson seemingly realizing that he was fighting too much in his opponent's comfort zone, switched up his style and opted to be more of an evasive counter puncher, rather than a boxer/puncher.
Using footwork and a variety of angles to open up countering opportunities, Dawson looked to be systematically breaking down Johnson, and took over the fight for the next three rounds, until Johnson, in the 10th, knowing he had to start putting it all on the line, hurt Dawson badly with a huge right hook. Dawson, visibly hurt, held onto Johnson in an attempt to clear his head, and finished the round exchanging bravely in a fashion that had the crowd, even the reporters, on their feet. The 11th was similar to the 10th, but Dawson fought back, with most of the action at close range. Johnson landed a few big shots, and Dawson landed crisp combinations in what would be the most competitive round of the fight. In the final championship round, Johnson was the aggressor, following Dawson and trying to cut off the ring, but to no avail. Dawson, feeling that he had the fight in the bag, fought safe in the final round, obviously in hope of winning a decision. When the verdict was rendered, the crowd reacted in disgust, while the Road Warrior was left disappointed yet again as he lost a close, unanimous decision to 'Bad' Chad Dawson.
Official Scores: 116-112, 116-112 and 116-112 in favor of reigning WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson
My Score: 115-113 Dawson
Johnson commented on the fight at the post-fight press conference that "Chad fought a great fight; I take nothing away from him. He tried hard, he tried his best, and he has young legs, so he tried to manuever around. He threw a few punches, and he tried to throw a lot of punches trying to rally over me, but as you can see, I'm still pretty, I'm still handsome. No bruises, no cuts, and that shows that the punches you were throwing was not landing. As you can see, when you look at him, he is bruised up. He is wearing dark glasses at night. I won the fight, I deserve a re-match, the people believe I won the fight, and we fight to try to please the people. They are the ones that are paying the bills, so if they want the rematch, I believe we should give it to them."
Dawson also had comments: "I just want to say that I was in the fight of my life tonight, definitely. They said it was a tough test, everybody doubted me, said I wasn't ready for a Glen Johnson, but I came here, and I did what I had to do. I had a game plan, and I stuck to it. We wanted to outbox Glen Johnson, and I did that. We are in Florida, and I got a unanimous decision, so I'm not gonna cry about everybody saying Glen Johnson won that fight, because deep down in my heart I know I won that fight. Maybe we could do it again later on down the road, but right now my future is bright, and I want to stick to the path that we are on and hopefully we can get Tarver next, and after that maybe me and Glen Johnson can do it again."
On the undercard of the Showtime twin bill, southpaw cuban-defector Yan Barthelemy showed pinpoint accuracy, speed, great footwork, defense, and counter-punching skills against vastly experienced Jose Garcia Bernel, dropping him in the 5th round en route to a 6th-round unanimous decision victory marking his sixth victory, as a pro.
Danny Williams also fought on the undercard, and won a 6th-round unanimous decision over journeyman Marcus McGhee, dropping him twice, but unable to stop him.
Prospect Raymond Biggs, Jr. showed his potential as he improved to 9-0 with a win over Jean Baptiste, who was thoroughly outclassed. Biggs displayed counter punching, quickness; a stiff jab; and good all around fighting.
Tarver vs Dawson:The Stage is Set
A heated argument between Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver ensued Saturday night at the post-fight press conference. Tarver started off by saying, "Like I told you, everything will be crystal clear. We can look in that crystal ball and see a little clearer, and right now it's Chad Dawson and me. So Chad, its time to dance with the Magic Man baby." Tarver then turned around to Dawson and his staff, and said "And you, you, and you can't save him."
Dawson's response: "I am ready. I'm excited for it. He can talk all the trash he wants, but when that night comes, it's going to be me and him just like he said. I don't think Tarver was great tonight. He said he backed Clinton Woods up all night. I thought Clinton Woods backed him up all night. We will see as soon as the papers get signed, as soon as the contract gets signed, its on."
Gary Shaw would later comment, stating that he sees no reason why this fight isn't going to be signed, and he hopes it will come off in the fall.
Overall it was a good card. The undercard wasn't full of action, but the Dawson vs Johnson fight made up for it all, and the performance by Tarver was impressive. With Dawson vs Tarver looming on the horizon, along with the Hopkins vs Calzaghe fight that is going to take place next week, the light heavyweight division looks to be worth watching.
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