Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 | 2 a.m.
IF YOU GO
Who: Antonio Tarver vs. Chad Dawson
What: IBF light heavyweight world championship fight
When: Saturday, Oct. 11; doors open 3 p.m., first undercard bout 4:15 p.m.
Where: The Pearl at the Palms
Tickets: $153, $303, $503, $753; ticketmaster.com or the Pearl box office, noon-7 p.m. daily
Antonio Tarver promises his part in the pre-fight promotion is not personal.
“He (Chad Dawson) wants to be in my shoes, that’s about as personal as it gets,” Tarver said Tuesday, after a workout for media members at Mayweather Boxing Club.
The trash talk might have been cleaner than on last week’s national teleconference, but Tarver’s message that Dawson does not measure up remained crystal clear.
“Never in his career is he ready for a guy like me,” continued Tarver, the IBF light heavyweight champion (27-4, 19 KO’s) who puts his belt on the line Saturday night at the Palms against the former WBC champ Dawson (26-0, 17 KO’s).
“I think his handlers, advisers are giving him a false sense of security. He won’t be safe on the 11th.”
The 39-year-old Tarver fueled the fight last week when he let loose a verbal jab by saying, “I’ve got a lot of Chad Dawsons on my resume. He don’t have one Antonio Tarver.”
That comment along with several more disparaging ones raised the ire of the 26-year-old Dawson, who vacated his light heavyweight belt to make this bout happen.
But neither Tarver, nor his legendary trainer Jimmy Williams is worried about the war of words. They say their biggest advantage is their experience, the fact that they’ve already backed up the talk and once again our ready to walk the walk by handing Dawson his first loss.
“We’ve already fought the killers. We know who we are and we know who he is,” Williams said. “We’re like an A-(class) dog running at a race track, and he’s like a C-dog trying to move up. It’s all about class.”
Tarver’s experience certainly trumps that of the younger Dawson.
Tarver has not only fought 11 years professionally, but also had hundreds of amateur fights. He was the first boxer to knock out Roy Jones Jr. Tarver also avenged all but one of his losses (he did not have a rematch with Bernard Hopkins), defeating Jones Jr., Glen Johnson and Eric Harding.
Tarver said those four tests have been tougher than any competition Dawson has toiled against.
“Not to degrade or talk down to anyone, but I don’t think he represents those type of fighters,” Tarver said. “Eric Harding was an unbelievable southpaw with enormous skill. Glen Johnson has obviously proved to be an excellent fighter.
“None of those guys look above me. We either are looking eye to eye, or I’m looking down at them.”
Tarver promises that scenario will be the same for Dawson.
“The fight stands for itself,” he said. “Here’s a young guy who has shown the ability to be a decent fighter. One who can get hurt, has a suspect chin, but good boxing ability. Fair power and good hand speed.
“But his handlers, and managers have pushed him on bad breaks. They trying to roll the dice and get lucky.”
Andy Samuelson is a sports writer/editor for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.