By Clive Bernath: This Saturday (April 12) night sees four of the best light-heavyweights in the world go toe to toe at the St Pete Times Forum in Tampa,Florida,USA when Britain’s Clinton Woods defends his IBF crown against IBO king Antonio Tarver and Chad Dawson faces Glenn Johnson in defense of his WBC title.
One could rightfully argue that the two best 175lbs fighters on the planet clash the following weekend when recognized No.1 Bernard Hopkins takes on the undefeated Joe Calzaghe in Las Vegas but it would take a brave individual to name one man that stands out head and shoulders above the others.
I cannot remember the last time six of the very best fighters in one weight division faced each other within the space of seven days let alone four on the same card. By the early hours of April 19, barring a draw or controversy,three fighters will have emerged victorious and earned the right to argue their claim to the No.1 spot. Regardless of who those three fighters are,though, one thing can be certain-all three match-ups are guaranteed to be hard fought,career defining and provide an element of intrigue.
Big fight Analysis
Clinton Woods vs Antonio Tarver
No doubt Antonio Tarver is a very talented fighter and if he fights as well as he has talked in the build up there will only be one winner. But the reality is Tarver is not on a film set now pummeling a fictional 60 year-old Rocky Balboa. In Clinton Woods, he faces a genuine tough guy that whilst does not do anything particularly exceptional in any department,he does everything well and workmanlike. The 35 year-old IBF king has learned his trade the hard way and deserves every ounce of success afforded to him. Woods showed in three toe to toe wars with Glen Johnson that he can fight at a good pace for 12 rounds and soak up the best punches Johnson had to offer. And lets not forget that,even though, Woods was stopped in six by Roy Jones Jr in 2002,it was a prime pound4pound best Jones Jr,who had the beating of any man on the planet at that particular time. Two or three years ago Tarver would have started a betting favorite against Woods but he was so far off the pace losing a clear 12 round decision against an equally energy conserving Bernard Hopkins , one can’t help feeling the same will happen again.
Chad Dawson vs Glenn Johnson
Never write off Glen Johnson. Many have tried over the years but boxing’s ’Cinderella Man’-like Clinton Woods-has fought his way to the top the hard way. Without the luxury of a high profile promoter to pad out his record, the 39 year-old from Miami,has unfortunately been on the wrong end of numerous controversial decisions before finally breaking out to claim the vacant IBF light-heavyweight crown against Woods in February, 2004. A knockout win over Roy Jones Jr(ko 9) in his first title defence followed by a points win over Antonio Tarver proved beyond doubt that the man they call the ’Road Warrior’ belongs in any world top 10 rating. Chad Dawson is very much the baby of the six at just 25 years old. The WBC champion is unbeaten at, 25-0-(17) ,and faces arguably his toughest test to date. The New Haven based Dawson won the title out-pointing Poland’s previously undefeated Tomasz Adamek in February 2007 and has since stopped both Jesus Ruiz(tko 6) and Epifanio Mendoza(tko 4) in title defences. I get the feeling that Dawson is maturing into his role as champion very comfortably and that combined with youth and the possibility of father time catching up with Johnson may just be enough to ensure he retains his title.
Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Calzaghe
On paper this is a hard fight to call depending on who you listen to and again if Hopkins(like Tarver) fights like he talks then Joe Calzaghe is in for a painful night’s work. No question Bernard Hopkins is an incredible example of health and fitness at the age of 43 but the fact is his reflexes have slowed along with his workrate. Yes, what the cagey old pro has lost in the aforementioned will have been replaced by a razer sharp boxing brain and experience-and against any other light-heavyweight in the world that may be enough. Calzaghe,though, is a totally different proposition. The 35 year-old undefeated Welshman’s speed and sheer volume of punches has successfully secured him an incredible 21 WBO super-middleweight title defences and if he can carry those qualities up to light-heavyweight it will be Joe’s arm that is raised in victory come April 19.
Six very different but charismatic boxers in three potentially intriguing and entertaining fights. Who said boxing was a dying sport? Professional boxing is very much alive and will be for a long time to come.
April 11, 2008