Sharkie’s Machine: Chad Dawson Shuts Antonio Tarver up
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Oct 12, 2008) Photo © German Villasenor, DHB  
Saturday night at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, unbeaten Lightweight titlist Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KO’s) out boxed a very hard working Antonio Tarver for 12 rounds, scoring a knockdown in the final round when after Dawson landed a left that saw Tarver lose his balance, his glove touched the canvas. It was like a nail in the coffin for a fight that saw Tarver lose just about every round at the hands of the stronger, younger and faster Dawson .

From the opening moment to the end of the last round, this was a steady action fight that saw Dawson control the tempo with speedy combination punching that emanated from his jab. Both fighters are southpaws so there were no awkward disadvantages other than the fact that Dawson gathered up all his aggravation from Tarver’s excessive talking before the fight and used it to fuel his energetically determined offense. Everything about Dawson ’s demeanor in this fight screamed, “I’m gonna kick your ass Antonio Tarver!”

Tarver fought a pretty good fight, considering that he’s often boring to watch, as he usually paws with his jab and rarely fights the full three minutes. He’s basically a counter puncher, so depending on his opponent’s level of activity; a Tarver match can often resemble a chess match instead of a fight.

Chad Dawson rarely let Tarver set the tone or do much of anything. Both guys showed respectable defense and neither guy suffered any gashes, cuts, bruises or swollen eyes. This truly was a “boxing” match. Hit and not be hit. For all his experience, Tarver got schooled by the younger man Saturday night. At 39, Tarver is no spring chicken and does deserve credit for being able to fight at the fast pace that Dawson dictated for 11 of 12 rounds.

There was that one round I had to give Tarver, the sixth round, where Dawson taunted Tarver by putting up his guard and not throwing any punches—just to show Tarver that even without throwing anything back, Tarver couldn’t hurt him. He was definitely in Tarver’s head. Since Tarver threw all the punches in the sixth, you had to give him that round. But if defense could win a round, Dawson would’ve won the sixth too!

As the rounds progressed, it was all Dawson . Tarver’s corner knew he needed a knockout to win. Though Tarver did what he could, the knockout never came. Dawson was too quick and agile for Tarver to catch.

At the end of the day, the official scores were 118-109 and 117-110 twice, all in favor of Chad Dawson.

Dawson appears to have gotten better overall since his outing against the very tough Glen Johnson earlier this year. His defense was a little tighter, his punches a little crisper and his ring generalship was impressive. I thought, perhaps controversially, that Glen Johnson won a very close fight with Dawson and that as usual, Johnson got the short end of the stick in that decision.

Dawson ’s answers to questions of a rematch with Johnson after that fight were uninspiring. Dawson avoided answering, saying he was only interested in “moving on.” After beating Antonio Tarver, Dawson was asked if this was the toughest fight he’d ever been in and Dawson was quick to say that it was not. He said in all honesty that Glen Johnson was the toughest opponent he ever faced.

Glen Johnson definitely deserves a rematch with Dawson and since those who rule boxing do not allow title unifications in any weight classes anymore, I think a second fight with Johnson would be highly anticipated and a good way for Dawson to prove he’s “The Man” at 175 pounds; at least here in the USA.

There are a bunch of “champions” at LHW and they are all from abroad. There is a relatively unknown Light Heavyweight titlist in Argentina named Hugo Garay (31-3, 17 KO’s), who currently possesses the WBA strap. There’s the WBO titlist from Germany , Zsolt Erdei (29-0, 17 KO’s). Erdei should be free in the next few months if a fight could be arranged with Dawson . There’s also Adrian Diaconu (25-0, 15 KO’s) of Romania , who fights out of Canada . Diaconu was the interim LHW titlist in the confusing WBC, who has more than one champ. Ridiculous. I thought Chad was the WBC titlist. There’s also the untouchable Joe Calzaghe, who in the twilight of his career, is only going for the big money, low risk, big name fights. Calzaghe may be available down the road if he doesn’t retire after beating Roy Jones Jr. next month. If Jones continues to fight after the Calzaghe fight, a Dawson vs. Jones fight would definitely sell tickets.

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