by Paul Magno
While Ring Champion Joe Calzaghe prepares for his fight with faded star Roy Jones on November 8th, a real world title fight will be taking place right under his nose this Saturday as defending IBF Light Heavyweight champ, Antonio Tarver, defends his title against young lion Chad Dawson.
Tarver is the 39- year old IBF title-holder who has almost done it all at 175. His brash talk and often less-than-fan-favorite style have turned many fans off, but nobody can rationally doubt what he has accomplished. He holds 2 out of 3 series wins against both Roy Jones Jr. and Glen Johnson and has also beaten some of the very best at 175- Montell Griffin, Eric Harding, Reggie Johnson and Clinton Woods. Despite an embarrassingly one-sided loss to Bernard Hopkins back in 2006, nobody can erase the fact that no other Light Heavy, with the exception of a prime Roy Jones Jr., has faced- and beaten- a stiffer level of competition than “The Magic Man.”
Dawson is the 26-year old heir apparent to the 175 lb. division. He has the class and the abilities to be a champ for many years to come. Up until recently, he was the reigning WBC champ, but ditched the title in search of a more meaningful bout with Tarver. Although questions remain about his chin and focus, nobody can doubt that “Bad” Chad is on the doorstep of stardom with wins over the likes of Eric Harding, Tomasz Adamek and, most recently, Glen Johnson on his resume.
Both Tarver and Dawson make the ideal opponents for a champion trying to prove that he’s the best. Tarver is the embittered veteran looking to maintain the respect he feels he deserves while Dawson is the young upstart itching to prove that he’s for real.
Even as both parties take verbal shots at each other for the benefit of the media and Showtime executives, the underlying understanding among most Boxing fans is that Tarver and Dawson, by signing this fight, are restoring a bit of dignity to a division that is watching its lineal champion engage in what could be classified as an exhibition bout against a fighter who hasn’t beaten a ranked Light Heavyweight since 2003. To rub some more salt into an open wound, the man who is being recognized as the #1 fighter in the division is quite clear on the fact that this will be his 1st and only title defense before throwing the strap into the proverbial Boxing trash bin.
“You have a lot of old fighters fighting old fighters,” Tarver said. “I’m a champion and I’m fighting the best – Chad Dawson. Calzaghe and Roy Jones are doing celebrity boxing. I’m taking a risk.”
The boisterous IBF champ went on to say, “When they look back I want them to look back and say I was the best of this era. When I walk away from the game I want them to say I was the best light heavyweight champion ever.”
Too bad Calzaghe, most Boxing experts’ choice for top 175-pounder, doesn’t share the same priorities.
In a perfect world, Calzaghe would take on Tarver while the previous lineal champ, Hopkins, would go up against Dawson with the winners of each squaring off in a Light Heavyweight mega-fight to determine the undisputed best at 175. However, this isn’t a perfect world and in this flawed Boxing universe, Tarver vs. Dawson is the best we’ll get…but I’ll take it and I will be more than willing to pronounce the winner of this fight the undisputed king of the Light Heavies…He will have earned it.
For TV times, as well as a chance to make your prediction for this Saturday’s Tarver vs. Dawson fight, check out The Blue Corner- Pound 4 Pound, Boxing’s Best Forum: http://boxingtimes.com/bluecorner/index.php