Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode started slow tonight in the Showtime main event from Carson, Calif., but eventually an interesting clash of styles, youth, power, accuracy, and developed, and at the end of 12 tight rounds, neither man walked away with a victory, as judges scored a split draw on scores of 114-114, 115-113 Tarver, and 115-113 Kayode. Bad Left Hook scored it 114-114.
Tarver (29-6-1, 20 KO) said after the fight that he felt he'd dominated Kayode in "every facet of boxing," and that he'd won every one of the last six rounds. Kayode (18-0-1, 14 KO) was a lot angrier, and with his thick accent, a lot harder to understand, though the instantly classic "I FUCK HE UP!" did pick up some Twitter steam, and with good reason. Sometimes the simplest things say the most.
Both had their moments in the fight, with Kayode starting strong and Tarver clawing his way back in on savvy and accuracy, including a few times when he did rock the younger man with sharp left hands. But neither was able to pull away or create much separation, and in the end, nobody won.
Four Warned Results
Quillin UD-10 Wright | Trout UD-12 Rodriguez
Santa Cruz UD-12 Malinga | Bika TKO-10 Davis
Post-fight, Tarver's face bore the disappointment of knowing that a draw with a middling cruiserweight certainly didn't give him much case for his wish-list fight, a shot at Wladimir Klitschko and the world heavyweight championship. That was always a long shot, but with Wladimir fighting the likes of Jean-Marc Mormeck recently, not impossible. Now, though, it's on the backburner. Tarver said he'd like to fight Marco Huck or Krzysztof Wlodarczyk next at cruiserweight, and then target Wladimir. Beating either would give him a stronger case, but by then he'd be 44 years old and way too small. It's never going to be a good fight, it's just a question of whether or not it might happen. Right now, it can't.
Kayode was a lot more animated. While Tarver sounded frustrated and like he was trying to convince himself that he did better than the scores said, Kayode was just ranting and raving like a madman. He said something about taking the rematch to HBO, which Jim Grey comically noted isn't going to happen (and he's right). Neither fighter said they wanted a rematch.
It was the end of a long night of boxing, which had its ups and downs. There were impressive performances, questionable performances, long stretches without much action, and style clashes galore. I know it didn't always go great, but I'm still glad they put this show on. The length didn't seem to bother many people, and if things break better next time and three of five fights are really good, then everyone will dance in the streets. I still think this is the way to go, personally, but your mileage may vary, as they say.