A ‘Cloud’ Within The Light Heavyweights

By Tom Donelson
Updated: September 2, 2008

Tavoris Cloud

Tavoris Cloud

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Young light heavyweight prospect Tarvoris Cloud stopped champion Julio Cesar Gonzalez and moved up from being a prospect to contender in one of boxing’s deepest and more exciting divisions.

Cloud attacked from the opening bell and literally pounded Gonzalez from one side of the ring to the other, thus maybe ending Gonzalez’s career as a contender while moving in his place.

Unfortunately for Cloud, he may be waiting awhile before he gets his shot at a title. Or it could be said that he has many obstacles left in a division where every fight among contenders is the equivalent of a championship fight.

What makes this division intriguing is that you have a combination of older fighters still with something left in the tank plus name recognition that enhances the gate. There are young fighters reaching their peak or at their peak.

Fighters like Shaun George, who just defeated former Heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, and Cloud are young prospects with the skills. And there is Chad Dawson, who is a younger, quicker version of Antonio Tarver and is already a champion.

As Dawson’s last fight with Glen Johnson demonstrated, every fighter among contenders are even affairs and the older fighters still have the talent to threaten younger fighters. Johnson nearly derailed Dawson’s championship reign and Tarver outdecisioned Clinton Woods.

Joe Calzaghe’s recent victory over Bernard Hopkins makes him the true light heavyweight champion and he is preparing to face Roy Jones, the main man of the division in the 1990′s and early part of this decade.

After taking the heavyweight champion from John Ruiz, Jones fought two fights with Tarver and lost the second one by knockout. From there, the light heavyweight division ceased to be Roy Jones private domain and became competitive. (Jones would lose a second time to Tarver in a 12-round decision.) It is still competitive today.

Just look at the top of the division. Calzaghe defeated Bernard Hopkins, but it was not a dominating performance but a case where Calzaghe outboxed Hopkins as the older Hopkins slowed down.

Johnson nearly defeated Dawson and Tarver overcame the British light heavyweight contender, Clinton Woods but there are plenty of fights left. Calzaghe-Jones is one of those crowd pleasing fights as many will flock to see whether the nearly 40-year-old Jones can turn back time against the Welsh fighter.

Dawson has a eventual future showdown with his alter ego, Tarver. The 40-year-old has been pushing back the clock as he recovered from a devastating lost to Hopkins and garner a portion of the light heavyweight championship.

Undefeated Romania fighter Adrian Diaconu is angling for his shot at a title and Hungarian light heavyweight Zsolt Erdei is the undefeated WBO light heavyweight champion.

And you when add Middleweights just as Arthur Abraham, Mikkal Kessler, Jermaine Taylor and Kelly Pavlik may eventually move to light heavyweight, adding more depth to the division.

Pavlik has a big money fight with Bernard Hopkins and this could be his entry into already crowded division.

What needs to be understood is that a fight among the top ten contenders is an even up affair and there is no favorites. Glen Johnson doesn’t own a championship, but he just showed that at 39, he can still beat any light heavyweight and Tarver has made it back from losing to Hopkins.

Dawson is still learning his trade and his youth may not serve him against Tarver or even Diaconu. Roy Jones once was the best pound for pound fighter but age has slowed down his skills but there is still little quickness left in his two hands; so Calzaghe can’t assume that Jones will be an easy mark.

As for Cloud, he has a mountain to climb just to maintain his contender status.

W elcome to the real world, Mr. Cloud.