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Dawson-Tarver: This Bout Has Mismatch Written All Over It

By Jason Kim: IBF light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs) puts his unbeaten record on the line this Saturday night against Antonio Tarver at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tarver, 40, is hoping to recapture his International Boxing Federation title that he lost to Dawson in a slightly one-sided unanimous decision loss in October 2008. The scores were 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110, all for the 26-year-old Dawson.

This is a fight that Tarver really needs to win, because at 40, Antonio doesn’t have much time left in the sport. Perhaps if Tarver had taken one of the other light heavyweight champions instead of Dawson, Tarver might have a halfway decent chance at pulling off a win.

But on Saturday night, it’s really going to take a miracle for Tarver to come up with a performance that will spell a win for him. Tarver essentially has only one chance of winning and that’s by trying to knock Dawson out somehow. Tarver doesn’t have the hand speed or the work rate to beat Dawson over 12 rounds, and has to hope that he can catch Dawson with a big shot and take him out.

The problem with that is that Tarver has a much better chance of running into one of Dawson’s big shots and end of getting taken out himself. Dawson doesn’t just hit hard, he puts his hands together in flurries, raining punches down on his smaller opponents and overwhelming them with punches.

Tarver is only slightly smaller than Dawson at 6’2” compared to Dawson’s 6’3”. However, it might as well be six inches, because Tarver landed very few punches last time out against Dawson, and only then when Chad would allow Tarver to get punches in by holding up his hands and letting Tarver come forward.

Tarver would go to work for 10 to 15 seconds, landing a half dozen shots that Dawson would pick off with his gloves. Dawson would then repay Tarver by hitting him with a flurry of fast shots as Tarver would give his best try to attempt to block Dawson’s flurries.

Tarver has little chance if he goes right at Dawson in the early rounds, because that’s when Dawson is at his strongest. The best chance that Tarver will have to beat Dawson is if he can wait until at least the 10th round, and then make a big surge to try and get Dawson out of there the best he can.

Dawson slows a little, but not all that much, so Tarver is going to need to put everything he had into those rounds because it’s going to take a lot to get the better of Chad in those rounds.

Dawson looked vulnerable in the later rounds against Tomasz Adamek and Glen Johnson, getting knocked down by Adamek and outworked by Johnson. However, both Adamek and Johnson took an enormous amount of punishment just to get to that point in the fight.

If Tarver wants to get a chance at taking Dawson out, he’s going to need to take a lot of big shots before then if he wants to get to Dawson. I don’t expect that Tarver will. Dawson is too fast, too strong and too young for Tarver to beat.

Prediction: Dawson by lopsided 12-round decision.

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