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'Magic Man's' magic plan
Tarver to 'let hands go' this time around against Dawson

Story and photos by Chris Cozzone

In Las Vegas boxing circles, you’re not going to find too many people who feel last year’s fight between Antonio Tarver and Chad Dawson warrants a rematch.

Unless you’re Antonio Tarver, that is.

“It wasn’t what Chad Dawson did that night,” says Tarver.

“It was what Antonio Tarver didn’t do. I just wasn’t myself that night.”

Last October at the Palms in Vegas, Dawson not only put a lid on several months of trash talk, but he dominated Tarver through 12 rounds, winning with lopsided scores of 118-109 and 117-110 twice.

This Saturday night, Dawson, 27-0 (17 KOs), making his HBO debut, says he’ll not only repeat a victory over Tarver, 27-5 (19 KOs), but he’ll do it in an even more convincing manner.

“What’s gonna be different this time,” says the dethroned champ, “is that I’m gonna show up to fight.

“When I throw my hands, no one is better. When I’m determined, I’m a hard guy to beat. There’ll be no defensive posturing—I’m gonna take the fight to this guy. And if I crack him, I’ll hurt him.”

Though undefeated, Dawson has been hurt in previous fights. Tarver plans to capitalize on this.

“I get up for fights like this,” says Tarver. “That’s why I’m undefeated in rematches.”

Of his five losses, three have been avenged. In 2000, Eric Harding decisioned Tarver; two years later, Tarver paid it back with a TKO. In 2003, Roy Jones eked out a majority decision; six months later, Jones was TKO’d. And in 2004, Tarver lost a split decision to Glen Johnson, but six months later, avenged it.

A loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2006, and the loss to Dawson in 2008, are the sole blemishes on Tarver’s 12-year career.

“I got everything to gain and nothing to lose,” says Tarver, who was able to secure the rematch from a clause in the contract last October. “I lost the championship. Now it’s time to get it back.

“He says he’s gonna knock me out this time. I hope he does come at me. Then I won’t have to go looking for him. If he comes at me and doesn’t run, it’s gonna be a hell of a fight. An unforgettable fight.”

Though 40 years old, Tarver says it’s not quite time to hang up the gloves.

“I feel good, and rejuvenated,” he says. “I’m not ready to ride out into the sunset yet.

“I still have a lot to prove.”


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