Dawson, Cotto Make Their Statements

By Tom Donelson
Updated: June 13, 2007

Chad Dawson

Chad Dawson

IOWA CITY, Ia. — This past weekend, we saw the emergence of a new superstar with some questions resolved and other questions still to be answered.

Miguel Cotto showed himself to be one of the stars in the welterweight division and has now elevated himself to be one of the welterweights best. His victory over Zab Judah showed that Cotto is for real.

Judah was Cotto’s toughest assignment and there were many who felt that Judah had the style and power to embarrass him. Judah had already fought the best of the junior welterweight and welterweights but he often came up on the short end of most of those battles.

This was Cotto’s first major test and he passed it. He suffered a cut in his mouth and at times, Judah’s punches had the young Puerto Rican fighter wobbly. But this did not stop him from continuing pressuring Judah and in the ninth, Judah went to his knee for an eight count and this was followed by a knock down and the eventual stoppage in the 11th

As for Judah, his own place in the boxing hierarchy is settled. Judah has fought and lost to Mayweather, Cotto, Kosta Tszyu and Cory Spinks, even though he did beat Spinks in the rematch.

The welterweight division is deep, but Judah can no longer be classified as one of the division’s elite, but he is still a fighter with excellent skills. When faced with the best, he mostly came up short.

But it does not diminish his skills but only shows that there is enough difference between Judah and the elites. Cotto showed himself to be one of the elites of the division while Judah showed himself to be just short of that ranking.

In the light heavyweight division, Chad Dawson did what champions are supposed to do when facing an opponent they are suppose to beat; he beat Jesus Ruiz easily.

From the very beginning, his multiple skills showed as he nailed his opponent with a variety of punches that Ruiz proved powerless to stop. It was a classic demolition as the young Dawson nailed Ruiz with combinations that showed his maturity as a fighter.

He hit the body and moved upstairs. His jab controlled his opponent and Ruiz had no real answer to counter Dawson with. As the fight progressed, Dawson’s superiority became evident and by the sixth round, it was all over.

Antonio Tarver was making his comeback after his stunning defeat at the hands of Bernard Hopkins. The Hopkins loss was a surprising one sided affair and Tarver found himself scrambling to restore his own reputation.

Now, Tarver fights for his legacy and at the age of 38, time is running out. Tarver wants to be recognized as one of the best of this generation and his two victories over Jones are not enough to secure that legacy.

The light heavyweight division has become deeper and more talented than the one that Roy Jones dominated throughout most of the 90’s and early portion of this decade.

In his fight with Elvir Muriqi, he looked like an 38 year old fighter at times and other times, he looked like the sharp shooting jabber that got him to the top. Tarver’s jab and accuracy won the fight but there were times that his opponent exposed some of his weakness.

Tarver has never been a great inside fighter and prefers to keep his opponent at the end of his jab. When Tarver jabbed, he control the fight but there were times, he was forced to the ropes.

There Elvir Muriqi unleashed body shots and Tarver found it hard to counter from close in. In the early rounds, Muriqi inside fighting kept the fight close but after the fourth round, Tarver overall skill level simply took over.

Muriqi had heart but he lacked Tarver’s boxing acumen. While most observers felt that Tarver easily won the fight, there were many close rounds and one judge had the fight even.

The reason was Elvir Muriqi wiliness to fight inside. (NOTE: Analyst Al Bernstein noted that ineffectual aggressiveness should not be rewarded but one judge did.)

Tarver showed some erosion of his skills and his chance to become the undisputed light heavyweight faces considerable obstacles. Yes, Tarver is the IBO champ but for now, this is a hollow championship belt.

The first is Chad Dawson, whose skill matches those of Tarver. There is talk of a Dawson-Tarver matchup and Dawson youth will give him a key advantage and his ability to go to the body as well as box could create problems for Dawson, when they meet.