Antonio Tarver thought he'd take Lateef Kayode into the deep waters, get him fatigued, and drown him. But the "kid" showed more energy late than expected in the main event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA on Saturday night. The scores after 12 rounds were 115-113 for Tarver, 115-113 for Kayode and 114-114, a draw, which Tarver vehemently disagreed with. To us, a draw looked fair, as neither man clearly pulled away from the other.
Tarver after said to Jim Gray that he clearly won. He said he started slow, but thought he won everything after six. His cornerman, Jimmy Williams, told him he needed the 12th, however, it must be noted. Where next? Not a rematch, probably.
Kayode said he thought he won, that Tarver got a draw because he works for Showtime. "I don't need the effin belts, I'm better than you," he said. A rematch he would do, but on HBO, he said to Gray.
The IBO cruiser champ Tarver (age 43; 29-6 entering; lives in Florida) got to jabbing in the first round against Kayode (age 29; from Nigeria, lives in CA; 18-0 with 14 KOs entering) in the featured Showtime bout. Kayode looked to land a booming right, but Tarver saw them coming. In the second, Kayode moved a bunch, laterally. Tarver was being patient, trying to frustrate Kayode, who came in amped, wanting to prove Tarver wrong. The fighter works as an analyst for Showtime, and has critiqued Kayode a few times on fights he called. Kayode took the critiques personally and lobbied for the fight. In the third, Tarver got busier. He whacked Kayode off a break in the first minute. He wanted to land the left uppercut on the Nigerian, and did land one 3/4 clean, in fact. Trainer Freddie Roach asked Kayode to land one-twos after the round. By the way, Kayode mugged to the crowd, and mocked Tarver, several times to this point.
In the fourth, Tarver got a couple combos untracked. The cruder,more powerful Nigerian looked to impose himself on the vet. The crowd, for the third time, booed the perceived lack of action. Analyst Al Bernstein noted that Tarver was even less busy than usual and was in danger of giving away too many rounds in the fifth.
No boos during a busy sixth. Tarver got cooking. He went righty, he landed a few combos, and two real clean power punches. In the seventh, Tarver continued to throw more and probably won the frame. In the eighth, Kayode was hurt a little bit by a straight left. In the ninth, Kayode again got buzzed. Would his stamina hold? In the tenth, his stamina held, in a tight round. In the 11th, the first 11th round for Kayode, he was busier than Tarver. Buddy McGirt screamed for Tarver to get busier. It could have gone either way. In the 12th, it was a tight one, nothing much separating the two. We'd go to the cards.
Tarver went 99-484 to 105-513 for Kayode
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV