LOS ANGELES-Under hot Southern California skies outside a popular downtown grill two light heavyweight titleholders converged to promote their upcoming clash. On one side WBC champion Chad Dawson, a young whippersnapper and on the other, IBF and IBO champ Antonio Tarver.
You couldn’t pit two more stark opposites than these two.
The quiet calm of Dawson has snared a match against the sonic boom that is Tarver in a fight that takes place on Oct. 11, at the Palm Casino Resort in Las Vegas for the latter fighter’s titles. The bout will be televised on Showtime along with the heavyweight bout from Berlin featuring WBC champ Sam Peter and former champ Vitali Klitschko.
As usual, Tarver is emphatic.
“Expect a knockout,” said Tarver who is even more animated after learning he is the underdog in the match. “I’m the one with one-punch power.”
Dawson (26-0, 1 NC, 17 KOs) has been chasing Tarver ever since capturing the WBC title and though he worked through a few tough challenges including a dog eat dog war with rugged Glen Johnson, Tarver has been on his bull’s eye for over a year.
“We finally cornered Tarver,” said Gary Shaw, whose company promotes Dawson.
While Dawson was chasing him, Tarver was chasing Joe Calzaghe. But after the Welshman announced he was fighting Roy Jones Jr. then he decided that no other options existed except for Bad Chad.
Especially after his exciting punch fest with the scourge of the light heavyweight division Glen Johnson.
“He fought very well against Glen Johnson, I thought he won the fight, it was close, but he out-boxed Johnson,” said Tarver of Dawson. “I like what Chad brings to the game.”
Tarver, 39, realizes his future is near the end, but not quite now.
“God’s blessed me with this body to be able to continue doing what I do,” Tarver said. “It must be for a reason.”
Though confident in his abilities, he’s not devaluing Dawson’s skills.
“I’m looking at this guy as a serious threat,” said Tarver (27-4, 19 KOs), who is known for his two victories over Roy Jones Jr. and his leading role in the motion picture Rocky Balboa. “The last time I overlooked somebody I got my jaw broken.”
Tarver was referring to his defeat to Eric Harding in 2000 that forced him to wait his turn for an eventual title fight with Jones. It took three years of waiting before his turn came.
The camera shy Dawson knows about waiting too. Ever since he captured the WBC light heavyweight title in 2007 he’s been gunning for Tarver. So when the World Boxing Council said he could not fight Tarver, he dumped the WBC title for the chance to fight the Floridian who won the IBF belt against Clinton Woods last April by decision.
“Just being in the ring with the guy who knocked out my role model Roy Jones Jr., it’s like a dream,” says Dawson, 26 who prepares in Las Vegas. “I’m not about belts, I’m about the money and prestige of beating Antonio Tarver.”
Dawson, a rather quiet and unassuming fighter from Connecticut, now works out of Las Vegas with former light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustapha Muhammad.
“He calls me every day before I go run or when I’m going to the gym,” said Dawson. “He’s teaching me everything I need to know.”
Las Vegas odds makers tab Dawson as the 2-1 favorite over the veteran Tarver.
“I can’t get no respect. I’m the Rodney Dangerfield of boxing,” Tarver said. “He won’t see the shot I hit him with.”