Body Blows: Dawson/Johnson & Tarver/Woods

HBO is showcasing a welterweight doubleheader but Showtime counters with a light heavyweight doubleheader. Young champion Chad Dawson defends against veteran Glen Johnson. Also, Antonio Tarver takes on Clinton Woods in another title bout.

Chad Dawson vs. Glen Johnson (WBC Light Heavyweight Title)

Chad Dawson, 25, enters as champion and is the future of the light heavyweight division. Johnson, 39, is an old guard and feels the youngster has to earn his standing in the division by beating him. Johnson defeated Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver, and Clinton Woods in 2004 and is still living off of those wins. To his credit, Glen Johnson is never in a bad fight and even at 39 years old, is not an easy opponent.

Dawson uses his hand speed early to land more punches than Johnson. As has become his trademark, Johnson remains relentless and stays in Dawson’s face. Johnson catches Dawson with a flurry towards the end of the third round that excites the fans and let them know it won’t be a walk in the park for the young champion.

These two are really hammering away on the inside and Dawson has little choice in the matter. Johnson won’t get out of his face. There hasn’t been a clinch through five rounds either; rare for a light heavyweight fight. Johnson shows signs of fatigue in the seventh as Dawson has used more of a stick-and-move strategy. Dawson is landing the harder punches in the eighth but Johnson still moves forward. Dawson is backpedaling but making sure to get off first.

It is a close fight after eight rounds with Dawson landing the cleaner punches but Johnson certainly is the aggressor. Johnson lands a crushing right hand in the 10th that buckles Dawson. Dawson is in trouble but fights for clinch and survives the remaining 45 seconds of the fight. The eleventh round is just as dramatic as both men trade shots in the center of the ring. Each man is fighting as if they are behind on the scorecards. This is the kind of fight I would hate to judge. Dawson looks exhausted in the final round, as most fighters do after going 12 rounds with Glen Johnson. Johnson lands another right that moves Dawson across the ring. The final bell rings. It’s really hard to root against Johnson in these situations as he’s been on the losing side of hometown decisions many times in his career. Plus he’s 39 and fights like he’s a 25 year-old lightweight. The cards are read and all three judges score the bout 116-112 for the winner by unanimous decision, Chad Dawson.

Another tough loss for Glen Johnson but this really was a close fight. Johnson gave an emotional speech after the decision, discussing his disappointment with the boxing community that continuously robs him of victories he felt he earned. Johnson’s frustration is more of a culmination of things as this fight could have gone either way. It’s still tough to see Johnson lose another close fight.

Clinton Woods vs. Antonio Tarver (IBF Light Heavyweight Title)

Woods enters as IBF champion but still doesn’t get top billing in the fight. That’s Antonio Tarver for you. Tarver is the IBO champion but that organization means nothing, therefore taking any meaning away from their title. Still, Tarver comes to the ring last. Both men predict a knockout which would be a nice finish. Scorecards are no fun.

The fight starts slow and methodical, but then again I just watched Glen Johnson go 12 rounds so just about anything would seem slow in comparison. Woods is letting Tarver set the tone for the fight and is merely counter-punching. When Tarver not only gets off first but also connects with those shots, it’s time to scrap the counter-punch strategy. Woods traps Tarver in the corner in the 4th. He lands a good body shot but Tarver doesn’t stay still and escapes the corner.

Woods lands a good shot in the 5th but it is way too little in volume to really being scoring any points. Tarver is way busier than Woods, even though it appears that Woods is merely letting him be more active. Tarver isn’t doing much to negate Woods’ offense. Although Tarver lands a great right moments later that stuns Woods, and could certainly negate any desire to get offensive. Woods’ corner tries to inspire their man to be more active and it seems to work as Woods comes out with more fire in the sixth round. Despite the increased activity, Tarver is still landing with ease and with even more power in the sixth. Woods just doesn’t seem to have it tonight and Tarver is doing an excellent job of exploiting that. A lot of fighters fight to their opponent’s level but Tarver has outclassed Woods for the first six rounds.

Woods lands a nice combo in the eighth with Tarver against the ropes. As usual, Woods does little to follow up on that. Tarver keeps a pace similar to a sparring contest, which is basically what this fight has boiled down to. Woods goes to the body in the 9th and should have been doing this eight rounds ago. Tarver responds with a four punch combo to the head. What happened to the knockout these guys predicted? I know regret letting Corey have a choice over which boxing telecast to cover. Woods has a spirited 11th but the spirit was only in response to getting jacked in the mouth by a straight left from Tarver.

Tarver finished the 12th round strong and the fight goes to the scorecards. It is a unanimous decision for Tarver with scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 119-109. This sets up a future showdown with Tarver and Chad Dawson. There really isn’t another fight worth a damn at the top of the light heavyweight division so I’m sure it will come through.

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