Sharkie's Machine: Tavoris Cloud Beats Clinton Woods and Wins a Title
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Sept 1, 2009)  
Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood Florida , Tallahassee ’s own Tavoris Cloud faced former Light Heavyweight titlist, Clinton Woods of Sheffield England . Woods has not had any success fighting here in the USA and Friday night was no different. Though Clinton Woods appeared to have the better technical boxing skills, Tavoris Cloud had youth and energy on his side. Cloud’s desire to win was expressed with all the pressure he applied, forcing Woods to spend too much time on defense. Cloud outworked Woods and went on to win the match by a large margin on the scorecards.

To Woods credit, when he came forward and engaged Cloud, he was able to land his jab and follow through with combinations that landed cleanly. But the 37 year old Woods didn’t have the stamina to keep up with the 27 year old Cloud, who was a lot more energetic and kept the pressure on throughout the fight. Even when Cloud wasn’t scoring anything flush, he was always the busier man and in control of the tempo of the fight. After 12 rounds, the officials all had the same score; 116-112, all in favor of Tavoris Cloud, the new holder of the formerly “vacant” IBF Light Heavyweight title.

During the post fight interview, Cloud was remarkably cool and unemotional. He stood stoically, like a man who’s been there before, as his dreams of becoming a “champion” had come true. While praise was heaped on Cloud during the post fight interview, Cloud talked about all the hard work it took to get where he was and also complimented Clinton Woods for his skills and heart.

Cloud expressed some annoyance when Chad Dawson’s name was mentioned. Before the Woods fight was signed, Dawson opted not to fight Cloud, which was how Woods ended up getting the opportunity. Cloud proceeded to question the heart of Chad Dawson, posing the question that if Dawson is supposedly the best fighter in the Light Heavyweight division, why wouldn’t he want to fight him?

While Dawson has shown himself to be a very good boxer in the fights he has taken, it was clear that after Dawson’s fight with Glen Johnson, (a close fight that could have gone either way on the score cards though the Judges had Dawson’s back) Dawson expressed zero interest in a rematch with Johnson, saying he wanted to “move on.” After Johnson, Dawson went after the much faded former titlist, Antonio Tarver, who he beat convincingly the first time and since it was so easy, Dawson gave Tarver a rematch, where he beat him a second time just as easily. That doesn’t say much for Dawson ’s heart but boxing is not a sport, it’s a game. It is strategically preferable to fight the most convenient matches instead of the toughest ones. Maybe this is why boxing is not as exciting as it once was.

Now that Cloud has a title, it makes more sense that Dawson won’t want to fight him, since ‘titlists’ rarely fight each other these days. Guys I’d like to see Cloud fight next include WBC titlist Jean Pascal, WBA titlist Cabriel Campillo, WBO titlist Zsolt Erdei and Bernard Hopkins, who doesn’t have a major title but is recognized as one of the top guys in the division. Its unlikely Cloud gets a shot at any other titlists but there are a few contenders out there that could make for entertaining match ups in the near future, including, Yusaf Mack, Roy Jones Jr., Glen Johnson or Chris Henry.

Congratulations to Tavoris Cloud for winning his first title. He should try to stay busier than he was last year and work on his overall game so when he next steps into the ring, he can better direct his impressive energy level.

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