Clearing Paths To A Conclusion

By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 6, 2008

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Over the two weeks, the light heavyweight division will have a significant shake out as the leading stars of the division will be facing off against each other.

This coming weekend, Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson faces off against Chad Dawson while Clint Woods fights Antonio Tarver. Then Joe Calzaghe challenges Bernard Hopkins for the recognized light heavyweight championship the following weekend. While Dawson, Woods and Tarver all have a piece of the championship belt, the one true champion is Hopkins.

Johnson had made a career of fighting in the other guy backyard and mostly losing close decision including one championship bout to Clinton Wood. Johnson made his name when he defeated Roy Jones with a ninth round knockout and Antonio Tarver. (Tarver avenged his lost to regain his title from Johnson.)

Johnson’s major strength is his aggressiveness style and tough chin. Johnson’s fights tend to be close affairs due to his ability to keep moving forward and more often than not; he tended to lose those decisions.

Dawson will be challenged but he has one thing in his favor; youth.He’s 25 and will be fighting a 39-year-old Johnson and eventually even age has to slow Johnson down.

Dawson’s style is similar to Tarver, a boxer puncher from the southpaw stance. Since his victories over Eric Harding and Tomaz Adamek, Dawson has been looking for a defining fight and Johnson may be that fight to help secure Dawson future in the division.

For Johnson, this is his last shot at glory and a championship.

He’s not the only almost 40-year-old to be fighting that night.Tarver saw his own legacy squandered when Hopkins defeated him easily. Tarver has been putting himself in a position for one more shot at the championship and Clint Woods is an obstacle. Woods have always been hanging around the elites of the division.

He has fought a series of close fights with Johnson, splitting two decisions with the “Road Warrior” and one draw. Roy Jones defeated him six years ago when Jones was still close to his best. Tarver still has his ability but at 39, the skills have eroded and the real question when he faces Woods, the question is how much.

The two fights are mere a warm up to the big event when Welsh Super Middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe makes his debut in America when he challenges for Hopkins’ title.

After his victory over Mikkel Kessler, Calzaghe defeated his main rival in the division. He never lost a bout, but there was always this doubt about Calzaghe and his domination in the Super Middleweight division.

Most American boxing pundits viewed Calzaghe as overrated and his own refusal to come across the Atlantic reinforced that. He never felt the need to seek approval of American boxing fans but now that he essentially cleaned out the Super Middleweight division, there’s one challenge left.

Fighting Hopkins in America will finally give Calzaghe his due as a great fighter. Win and he’ll own titles in two weight division and despite being 35, Calzaghe showed that he is not far from his prime in his victory over Kessler whereas Hopkins is past his prime.

What Hopkins has in his favor is his knowledge of the sport. In the ring, Hopkins is one of boxing PHD’s and at his advance age, he still has the ability to pull another surprise.

He defeated Tarver for the title and last year, his defensive skills neutralize Winky Wright offense. Wright’s offensive style is similar to Calzaghe, showed that he still has the style to defeat Calzaghe but the real question, does he still have the skill to defeat a younger and quicker opponent to keep his title?

After April, the light heavyweight division will start to clear up as there will be three survivor of these three bouts with possible unification around the corner.