Friday, May 8, 2009 | midnight
The last time Antonio Tarver fought Chad Dawson, his mouth got him in a bit of trouble.
Showing no respect to his younger opponent, Tarver was anything but quiet leading up to their Oct. 11 bout last year, saying "I've got a lot of Chad Dawsons on my resume, he don't have one Antonio Tarver."
Tarver paid for those words on fight night, as the 26-year-old Dawson defeated him by unanimous decision, knocking him down in the 12th round.
This time, Tarver is keeping quiet — which may be even worse.
"It's a lot different, he's not talking and it sounds like he respects me now," said Dawson, who took Tarver’s IBF/IBO title belts with the victory.
"He understands this time around is different. He's still the big name guy, but he's getting in there with a real live fighter. I don't play any games in the ring and he knows that now."
The 40-year-old Tarver said as much during Thursday's press conference to promote the fight, acknowledging that few boxing fans or bettors have faith in him to beat Dawson (he’s a plus-600 underdog at Station Casinos) in Saturday's rematch — despite the fact that he’s never lost to an opponent twice.
"I have something to prove to me, my family and my loved ones," said Tarver (27-5, 19 KOs).
"I'm a realist of where I'm at in the game, I'm a realist about my position. I know what a win will do for me and I know what a loss will do for me. I know what I have to do Saturday night. I don't have much to say, I'm ready."
That's a big difference from the never-ending flow of words that came out of Tarver's mouth before the first fight.
Although Dawson rarely fires back comments of his own, it's clear that the undefeated the light heavyweight champion listens.
"What I got out of it when he made that comment is that he knows his back is against the wall," said Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs).
"He knows what kind of guy he's facing and he knows he might not make it through this fight. He knows this might be his last."
So which fires Dawson up more, trash talk or desperate talk?
"When he talks like his back is against the wall," answered Dawson. "Because I'm like a cat, I've got the mouse cornered."
With the results of the first meeting still fresh in everyone's mind, Dawson's camp took the opportunity to make some comments of their own before the rematch.
Stepping up to the microphone during the press conference, Dawson's head trainer, Eddie Muhammad just had one thing to say: "Hello, don't miss it, it's going to be quick."
"You know what it is, he realized during that first ass-whooping he got we don't talk trash," said Muhammad following the conference.
"He talked trash and now he's paying for it. Chad doesn't talk because he has confidence in his ability. People who talk a good fight don't normally fight a good fight. We work hard in the gym and that's it, we back it up in the ring. Not outside, because talk is cheap."
The entire rematch has had a different feel to it, most likely due to how easily Dawson was able to handle Tarver in October.
After receiving a prefight phone call from another undefeated boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jr., telling him he was the best fighter in the world, Tarver won by scores of 117-110 from two judges and 118-109 mark on the other card.
Although Tarver has decided to ditch the trash-talking this time around, he still says he's confident he'll keep his perfect rematch record intact, which includes second-time around wins over Eric Harding, Glen Johnson and Roy Jones Jr.
"The guy was just more busy than I was," Tarver said of the first fight. "But what did I get hit with? That knockdown was garbage, that was a trip.
“He didn't hurt me. He's got ability, he's got skill, but all the fighters I've faced have had the same qualities. I'm going to put on a hell of a display Saturday. I'm going to unveil what Tarver is all about. If you think you saw me the first time around, you're going to be sadly mistaken."
Pro debut jitters: After living in the United States for two and a half years, Swedish import Donatella Hultin will finally make her professional boxing debut on Saturday night's undercard to the Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver fight at the Hard Rock.
"I'm really nervous with it being my pro debut. I'm confident but definitely nervous," said the 20-year-old Hultin, who was 13-0 as an amateur with eight knockouts.
"I just want to get it over with and enjoy some time with some friends who are coming into town. I was ready to fight last week."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.