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November 23, 2017

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Dawson silences Tarver

After weeklong war of words, unbeaten Dawson picks up biggest win


Steve Marcus

Chad Dawson celebrates his victory over Antonio Tarver in their IBF/IBO light heavyweight title fight at the Palms on Saturday October 11, 2008.

Unanimous Champ

Chad Dawson beat Antonio Tarver in a unanimous decision Saturday night to claim the IBF/IBO light heavyweight world championship.

Tarver vs. Dawson

Chad Dawson connects on IBF light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver during their title fight at the Palms Saturday October 11, 2008. Dawson scored a 12-round unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

After all the prefight talk, there was little left to say Saturday night.

Unbeaten light heavyweight Chad Dawson translated his thoughts through his gloves, thoroughly outboxing Antonio Tarver to capture the IBF/IBO belts with a unanimous, 12-round victory at the Palms.

“I really don’t have much to say, but there’s a new king in town,” said a smiling Dawson, who won by scores of 117-110 from two judges and a 118-109 mark by the other.

But it was a phone call from another king of Las Vegas, retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., that gave the 26-year-old Dawson an extra boost of confidence — as if Tarver’s trash talk hadn’t provided enough motivation.

“He told me I was one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world,” said Dawson of Mayweather Jr., who cheered loudly for the former WBC champ from atop his perch in the Pearl Theater.

“He said that boxing is a gladiator sport and (the outcome) could go either way,” continued Dawson (27-0, 17 KOs). “He told me to fight my fight because I was the better fighter.”

The New Haven, Conn., fighter certainly proved that while winning the early rounds with his hand speed and punching combinations.

While the 39-year-old Tarver (27-5, 19 KOs) won the third, sixth and 11th round on judges Dave Moretti’s and C.J. Ross’ cards, Dawson clearly controlled the fight. He countered quick combos seemingly every time Tarver tried to get on track.

“He’s a young lion and he had a high work rate,” said Tarver, who said he didn’t apologize for all the preflight talk and would love to have a rematch.

“I was never hurt, but he was a busier fighter than I was tonight. I missed a few times with my power shot, but that’s what this is, it’s a game of inches.”

Dawson nearly finished the fight in the final round, knocking Tarver down to one knee with a big left with 2:11 on the clock.

Tarver said he tripped, but it didn’t matter either way as Dawson already had sealed the fight and his fate as a new champ.

“I respect him (Tarver), but I know what type of champion I got,” said Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dawson’s trainer and former light heavyweight champ. “He put in eight weeks running up Mount Charleston. That’s eight weeks of running five miles straight up, that’s 8,574 feet. I know Antonio Tarver didn’t do that.”

Dawson said he wants to do something else Tarver and few other fighters have: become the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

That path will likely need a showdown with one of the winners from the Oct. 18 Kelly Pavlik-Bernard Hopkins fight or the victor of the Nov. 8 Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones bout.

“We would absolutely fight the winner of Roy-Calzaghe,” said Gary Shaw, Dawson’s promoter. “We’d fight if Kelly Pavlik wants to come up to 175. If Bernard, who is a real live dog, beats Pavlik and wants to fight, we’ll fight.”

Until then, Dawson can bask in knowing he proved his biggest point yet.

“Talking is just words. You got to get in the ring and use your hands,” Dawson said. “Tonight my hands were better and I was just the better fighter, like I knew all along.”

Andy Samuelson is a sports writer/editor for the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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