An Explosive Light-Heavyweight Title Fight

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 9, 2008

NEW YORK — Antonio Tarver and Chad Dawson have been on a collision course for the last two years. Both men have been featured in the other fighter’s hometown in recent fights. Tarver and Dawson will once again share the spotlight, but this time the two will battle each another.

On Saturday night, Tarver (27-4, 19 KOs) defends the unified IBF/IBO light-heavyweight championship against an unbeaten former WBC 175-pound champion Chad Dawson (26-0, 17 KOs) at the Palms in Las Vegas. “Tarver vs. Dawson” will be featured in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

What makes Tarver-Dawson such a genuine 175-pound fight is the fact that both fighters don’t like one another. Also, Tarver is at the top of the division, while Dawson could very well be the heir apparent.

Tarver, a native of Tampa, has competed at the top of the light-heavyweight division for a long time. Tarver is a three-time world light-heavyweight champion. Tarver has fought Jones, Hopkins, Glen Johnson, Montell Griffin, Clinton Woods, Elvir Muriqi, and Eric Harding in a combined 10 professional bouts.

Tarver is 40 years old and appears to have the same drive and determination that he had when he began his pro-career in February 1997 at a late age of 29.

“I’m motivated every time,” Tarver told BASN during a recent conference call with the media. “When my life is on the line, I’m motivated. This is my legacy man. This everything I’ve ever worked for. What the hell does he represent?”

“We [not] trying to go back, we trying to move forward. I represent something. “[I'm not] trying to take no shortcuts. They aint gave me nothing in this game of boxing. I had to take everything and on October 11, I’m taking everything once again.”

Tarver added: “Yeah, I’m fired up for his monkey ass dude saying what he going to try and do to me. Shit, he can’t spell my name. Nothing on his resume speaks my name.”

Dawson, at age 26, is considered by many to be the future of the light-heavyweight division. Dawson has hand speed, he’s fast, he throws combinations, and fights at a faster pace than his opponents. Dawson is a decisive favorite to beat Tarver, who has looked slower and less explosive in recent fights.

Dawson vacated the WBC title for an opportunity to fight for Tarver’s belts and more money. A victory over Tarver would be huge.

“It puts me where I’m at right now – on top of the division,” Dawson said. “I’m here to prove a point. I just want to shut this big mouth bastard up. That’s all I want to do and it’s going to happen on October 11th. All that talk goes out the window on October 11th. That’s my word.”

Obviously, there’s a lot of tension between both fighters. Dawson wants what Tarver has – fame, money, main event status, and a world championship. Tarver maybe older, but he is not ready to relinquish his spot at the top of the light-heavyweight division. That’s what’s going to make for a great fight because, Dawson appears ready to take it from him.

“I’m a better fighter all around,” Dawson added. “A stronger, better fighter. I [haven't seen anything] in his last five fights.”

Tarver is ready to go. The champion believes that even though he’s significantly older, he hasn’t really taken a bad beating in the ring. Tarver did have his jaw broken in a fight with Harding (2000), but later avenged that loss with a brutal knockout. Tarver was knocked down once before losing a lopsided decision to Hopkins in June 2006.

“Come on man, it’s like any fighter,” Tarver added. “You’re only old as the punishment you’re taken in the ring. You understand me? In my whole career, I never get beat up that bad in a fight. The whole thing is this: he got two hands just like me. I’ve proven that I can throw my hands better than any of them.”

Tarver also believes that he can still bring the pressure that may topple Dawson.

“I’m not saying that this is a walk in the park, but I’m a dig deep. I’m going fight his m—– f—– from round one. You understand me?”

Of course Dawson responded and the two exchanged verbal barbs

“That’s what I want right there” said Dawson.

“I’ll tell you what, he going to have to show me what he made of,” Tarver commented. “That’s what it is. I’m not going to run. I’m not going to hide or running around the ring. I’m coming to fight. [ Dawson's] going to have to take it from me. Whatever he comes with, I can take it. [It's] nothing new to me.”

“I’m taking you out of shallow waters way out into the sea,” Tarver added. “I’m going to drown your monkey-ass homeboy.”

Dawson to Tarver: “You’re a comedian”

Klitschko-Peter an attractive co-feature

Along with Tarver-Dawson, the co-featured attraction will be a taped-delay broadcast of Samuel Peter (30-1, 23 KOs) in a WBC heavyweight championship defense against WBC “emeritus champion” and mandatory contender, Vitali Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs) from the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany.

Klitschko has not fought in four years. His career ended in 2005 after a series of injuries held-up several mandatory WBC heavyweight title defenses against Hasim Rahman. Since Klitschko never lost the title in the ring, the World Boxing Council awarded Klitschko with the “emeritus champion” tag. Klitschko was welcome to return once he was healthy enough to resume his boxing career.

Klitschko, at age 37 is back. He appears to be healthy and ready to go. Should Klitschko defeat Peter, he will join younger brother Wladimir as the only brothers to simultaneously hold the world heavyweight championship.

Wladimir is the IBF/WBO and unrecognized IBO champion. A Vitlai victory would elude the Klitschkos only the WBA title.

The only brothers to hold the world heavyweight championship were Michael and Leon Spinks. Leon defeated the legendary Muhammad Ali in Feb.1978. Michael defeated Larry Holmes in Sept.1985. However, Michael and Leon did not hold the heavyweight championship at the same time.

Peter will not bean easy assignment, as he has been the more active and busier fighter. Peter has defeated James Toney (twice) and Oleg Maskaev in recent fights. However, everyone is still talking about vulnerable he looked against Jameel McCline.

McCline, not recognized for his KO power, dropped Peter three times but lost a 12-round decision at Madison Square Garden one year ago. Questions about Peter’s chin were raised since then and Vitali could be the hardest puncher Peter has fought in his entire career.