Boxing
Dawson pondering post-Tarver targets
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Coming to a convention center or casino parking lot near you...the 2011 fight of the year.

Chad Dawson vs. Paul Williams.

For the undisputed super middleweight championship of the world.

Sound farfetched?

Not if you ask Dawson, a rising 26-year-old who's not averse to the idea of dropping a few pounds to pursue bigger fights if hoped-for matches at 175 don't work out.

One of his main targets at light heavyweight - Welsh veteran Joe Calzaghe - squashed the idea of match when he announced his retirement on Thursday.

So who could blame Dawson for thinking smaller?

"I don't think (Williams) could come up to light heavyweight, because that'd be too much for him to put on," he said, "but at 168 that's a fight that could make sense someday, especially if he's sure that he's done everything he wants to do at welterweight."

Williams fought in three weight classes in his final three fights of 2008 - beating Carlos Quintana at welterweight (TKO 1) in June, pummeling Andy Kolle at middleweight (TKO 1) in September and punishing Verno Phillips in between at 154 pounds (TKO 8) in November.

He's expected to face Winky Wright in April in Los Angeles.

"I could always move up to cruiserweight but there's really not a lot going on up there, so I'd be more likely to move down to 168 if an opportunity presented itself," Dawson said. "I couldn't make 160 without cutting off a leg, but fighting at 168 might actually be my best weight."

That's ominous news for one Antonio Tarver, the ex-light heavyweight kingpin who exercised a contractual rematch clause to get another shot at Dawson after the 6-foot-3 southpaw whipped him over 12 rounds to capture the IBF and IBO title belts last in October.

The two will meet again for the dual 175-pound jewelry on March 14 at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, an appointment the unbeaten Dawson begrudgingly accepts while admitting his sights in the division had since been set on Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins.

Dawson won a unanimous decision in the first meeting - sweeping scorecards with totals of 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110 in the same Palms Casino ring.

"I just remember all the things that were said leading up to the first fight, with him saying I didn't deserve to be in the same ring as him, and I feel like I shouldn't have to give him a rematch," Dawson said. "He's not capable of changing the result and he really already knows what hes going to feel again.

"I need to keep my mind straight on this one and then the bigger fights are going to come. I knocked him down in the 12th round of the first fight and my mind is set on coming out there this time and finishing what I started."

The media-friendly Tarver was at his outspoken best prior to the October bout, claiming Dawson was in for a rude awakening after he'd struggled to a narrow win over Glen Johnson while defending the WBC title - which he subsequently relinquished - six months earlier in Tampa, Fla.

Tarver defeated Clinton Woods in the main event on the same card at the St. Pete Times Forum.

He's been far less threatening this time, mentioning little more than career- long prowess in rematches - which has resulted in second time around defeats of Eric Harding, Roy Jones Jr. and Johnson after losses to each man in their initial meetings.

Tarver also beat Jones in a third fight.

"I made my statement with the first fight but he wanted to do it again," Dawson said. "But there's not much he can do to change things. I know he'll come out there and fight his heart out, but he did that the first time and this time it won't change things. He keeps saying that he's the master of the rematches, but he's never come back against a guy who beat him that badly the first time. And he won't like it."

Assuming rematch success, Dawson had hoped to land one of his primary targets by the end of 2009.

Calzaghe, 36, was recognized as the division's champion by Ring Magazine but had been hinting at retirement since defeating Jones by one-sided decision in November at Madison Square Garden.

The 44-year-old Hopkins, meanwhile, is actually just 3-3 in his last six, but restated his case for pound-for-pound legitimacy with a near-shutout of middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik in October.

"I want to make the pound-for-pound list and I want to be recognized as the pound-for-pound king, so these are the fights I need," Dawson said before Calzaghes announcement. "I definitely need to beat one of them to be recognized. And if doesn't happen, I can always move down to 168."

Dawson was ranked behind the two veterans in the IBO computerized rankings released early Thursday.

"I don't want to toot my own horn, really, but I believe I am (the best light heavyweight in the world)," Dawson said. "I had to drop the WBC title to get Tarver, but I have two belts now and I can't see how I'd not be deemed the champion ahead of anyone else."

And when all is said and done, he plans to exit before anyone else, too.

Rather than following the trend of 30- and 40-something stars, Dawson sees a much closer finish line for a career that began with a two-round blowout of Steve Garrett in August 2001.

"I've got three kids that I want to be able to spend some time with, so no, I don't want to be fighting when I'm that old. I'm going to try and take care of business now so I can retire when I'm 30," he said. "That gives me 3 1/2 years to get the big fights, make the right money and get out while I'm still a young man. If I can stay on top, which I plan on doing, I'll be able to close the book at that time."

SATURDAY

WBA-WBC super flyweight title/IBF junior bantamweight title - Anaheim, Calif.

Vic Darchinyan (WBA/WBC/IBF champion) vs. Jorge Arce (WBA interim champion/WBC No. 2 contender)

Darchinyan (31-1-1, 25 KO): First three-title defense; 3-0-1 at 115 pounds in 2007-08

Arce (51-4-1, 39 KO): Former WBC/WBO champion at 108 pounds; Failed 115-pound title try in 2007

FitzHitz says: Darchinyan in 7

WBA super lightweight title - Rostock, Germany

Andreas Kotelnik (champion) vs. Marcos Rene Maidana (No. 1 contender)

Kotelnik (30-2-1, 13 KO): Second title defense; Won all 20 career fights (10 KO) in Germany

Maidana (25-0, 24 KO): Won 15 straight by KO; Two career fights past six rounds

FitzHitz says: Kotelnik in 11

WBA heavyweight title - Rostock, Germany

Ruslan Chagaev (champion in recess) vs. Carl Davis Drumond (No. 10 contender)

Chagaev (24-0, 17 KO): First fight in 13 months; 2-0 in heavyweight title fights

Drumond (26-0, 20 KO): Second fight outside Costa Rica; Two first-round KOs in 2008

FitzHitz says: Chagaev by decision

WBO flyweight title - Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Omar Andres Narvaez (champion) vs. Rayonte Whitfield (No. 1 contender)

Narvaez (28-0-2, 17 KO): Held championship since 2002; 15th title defense

Whitfield (22-0, 11 KO): Second fight outside U.S.; Two career fights past eight rounds

FitzHitz says: Whitfield by decision

Last weeks record: 0-1

Overall picks record: 55-26

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a 20-year veteran of sports journalism, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and "Cold Hard Sports" on the MVN network (coldhardsports.com). Reach him via e-mail at fitzbitz@msn.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.