By Mark Felicetti
Looking at the Light Heavyweight title fight between Chad Dawson (28-0, 17 KO’s) and Antonio Tarver (27-6, 19 KO’s), you’d see the similarities you would expect.
Coming to the ring, re-hydrated, they were within a pound of each other. Their height and reach are exactly the same, and the knockout/win ratio is nearly identical as well.
The two things that jump off the stat sheet are the numbers in the loss column and the difference in age.
Undefeated Dawson is a young but experienced 26 and Tarver, a low-mileage but older model at 40, has had several losses in the recent past.
These differences were apparent and applicable in their first fight seven months ago.
In October of 2008, southpaw Dawson won a decisive and unanimous victory over Tarver, sending him to the canvas in the final round and taking the title away from Antonio.
Tarver has never lost a rematch so Chad came through the ropes for this fight with some trepidation.
In their previous fight, Tarver pressed the action and threw well over two hundred more punches but landed less.
The same held true in this bout. Antonio (also a lefty) carried the fight to Chad. He continually moved forward but there was no “snap.” His hands were slow and his punches were not crisp or clean.
Dawson’s output was sporadic and he seemed content to fight while backing up, then he would plant himself and throw a sustained flurry.
Chad’s punch output and accuracy grew in the first two rounds and by the middle of the 3rd, he had become the aggressor and was backing Tarver around the ring.
Dawson came out strong in round 4 and landed a hard left to the head that took some of the starch out of Tarver’s legs.
The middle rounds were carbon copies (does anyone even know what that means anymore?) of each other with Tarver tossing more but Dawson landing at a much higher percentage.
Coming into the championship rounds, Tarver’s mitts were slowing significantly and Dawson’s performance was lackluster and unfocused enough that his corner warned him he was giving rounds away.
The last two rounds were active enough but the spark just wasn’t there.
At the end of 12 rounds the scorecards were closer than the last fight but the outcome was the same.
Dawson took the win with a unanimous decision.
A couple of years ago Tarver tested his acting chops by playing the part of “Mason Dixon” in the movie “Rocky Balboa.”
Antonio bulked up and put on some weight to look appropriately sized to fight the perennial Stallone character.
The truth is Tarver did gain the weight…much more than anyone would admit to, and he had trouble shedding it.
The weight loss was too much, too fast, and it left Tarver tired and weakened. He lost his next fight and he hasn’t seemed the same since.
In the movie, Antonio didn’t get knocked out by Stallone but it looks like Rocky took its toll on Tarver and it is very possible that Antonio had his career KO’d by Balboa.
It is tough to tell just how deep and wide Dawson’s sack of skills might be. He did put together some nice combinations but they had no authority.
He will have to learn to sustain his focus and increase his intensity if he is going to keep that belt tightly around his waist.
God Bless and try to stay focused.