Chad Dawson may not be the biggest name in the sport, and unlike Showtime, I won't now tell you he's the world's best light heavyweight. Joe Calzaghe is still THE light heavyweight champion of the world, and Dawson's résumé is simply one that is being built steadily and even rapidly.
His wide unanimous decision win last night signaled a couple of important things, though.
For one thing, we saw the end of Antonio Tarver as a legit top-flight light heavyweight. Frankly, we saw the end of it when Bernard Hopkins beat the daylights out of him in 2006, but the world continued to believe in large part that Tarver was the fighter he briefly was before.
Tarver, if you've never gathered (somehow), has not exactly been one of my favorites over the years. He's a loud, big-talking guy with a couple of great wins. Had he not knocked Roy Jones out with one fluky shot, would we even be here? That was a highlight reel moment for anyone, let alone Tarver slamming the pound-for-pound king.
Since Hopkins, he's done nothing of merit. Wins over Elvir Muriqi and Danny Santiago mean little, if anything. Neither fighter is anywhere near Tarver's class, yet Antonio got a tough fight from Muriqi, and looked incredibly slow against an undersized, far overmatched Santiago, who had no business being in the ring with Tarver. A fight that night with Danny Green -- a solid, not special guy -- may have given Tarver far more than he could handle.
He beat Clinton Woods easily, but I'll always say, since it was obvious, that Woods just wasn't into that one, whatever his reasons were.
Dawson made him look old, slow, and like part of the past, while Chad was clearly the future and the present of the division all rolled up in one. Dawson (27-0, 17 KO) took Tarver's IBF (and IBO) titles with relative ease, winning on scores of 118-109, 117-110, and 117-110. I had it 119-108 for Dawson, though there were a couple of rounds I debated but thought Chad landed cleaner, better shots.
But with all the dissing of Tarver, I want to again make this point: outside of his whining in the 12th round that he didn't go down (his gloves clearly touched the canvas, and that's a knockdown, "Magic Man"), Tarver didn't have any Tarver moments. He was humble and classy in defeat, passed the torch in essence, and also fought like a fighter, not a guy looking to hang on at any cost.
Tarver (27-5, 19 KO) did not clinch with Dawson, who skillfully backed away from Tarver all night, forcing Tarver into the role of pursuer, which is not his strong suit. Tarver threw everything he had at Dawson. It just wasn't good enough to beat a younger, stronger, fresher, faster fighter. Dawson's gameplan worked brilliantly. He was superb.
But Antonio Tarver, even in a lopsided loss, kept the fight moving, kept the action going, and though you might not class it as a warrior loss, I'll say he went out on his shield. In the final round, he unleashed his hands and tried to find any KO he could. He didn't look for the perfect shot, he looked for any shot. That's admirable. He did everything he could to win.
To call what Vitali Kiltschko gave Samuel Peter yesterday in Germany a "boxing lesson" would require the thought that Peter had ever signed up for boxing school. To call it, simply, an "outclassing" is saying too little of the match, which was as one-sided as you could have possibly dreamt it being.
Samuel Peter (30-2, 23 KO) looked as though he had absolutely no business in the ring with Vitali Klitschko, who is going to be lauded, somewhat rightfully, for a great performance. Truth is, any tall heavyweight that knew how to control distance was going to beat the crap out of Peter.
Samuel Peter's head movement was at an all-time low. He didn't jab, and he couldn't jab. He never got inside. He tried to bull-rush a few times, and all that came of it was some wild, missed swings, and then Vitali re-finding his range and pop-pop-popping Peter until the Nigerian titleholder could takes no more, quitting after eight Klitschko-owned rounds.
Was it fear? Is it a simple case of Peter being overrated thanks to the landscape around him?
As for the latter idea, that's not his fault. What is he now at worst? Still a top five heavyweight. I wouldn't take him to beat either Klitschko and I also think Valuev's size would have its way with Peter, but I'd take him over cement-footed Chagaev, a guy he could catch clean at some point.
Peter is David Tua with less excitement. He's a lumbering, squat, straight-forward fighter that just cannot handle a good, tall fighter. Jameel McCline got him in trouble, and McCline is hardly any great shakes.
All respect to Vitali Klitschko, new WBC heavyweight titlist. Watching him and Wladimir get ready to make another weird bunch of photos after the fight was a bit much for me, and it troubles me that we're now even further away from a heavyweight champion being crowned. Had Peter beaten Vitali, all it would've taken was a Peter-Wlad rematch, and you're damn right I think Wladimir would've tried to avenge his brother. After all, big bro beat up bullies Corrie Sanders and Ross Purritty when they were done with Wladimir, and Wladimir twice hammered Chris Byrd, who holds a win over Vitali.
With Peter, you're also seeing what the future holds for Chris Arreola, like it or not. A big, thick, sturdy guy that likes to mix it up, whose power isn't Tyson-esque or anything, and whose simple boxing skills lack crispness. Plus, frankly, neither exactly goes out of their way to be in the best possible shape.
Meanwhile, giant fitness freaks the Klitschkos rule the roost at heavyweight on the strength of their jabs. There ain't nothin' wrong with either man as a fighter, if you ask me, but if it's a sensational and dynamic heavyweight champ you're looking for, keep waiting.