Cloud: "My Goal is to destroy my opponent by any means necessary"
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Tavoris Cloud understands Chad Dawson's logic.
Though his shot at the man widely perceived as the world's best 175-pounder has been two times delayed while Dawson sought pricier quarry, the unbeaten Florida-born slugger bears the incumbent IBO champion no ill will.
And even through clenched teeth, he remains diplomatic.
"I can appreciate what he did to a certain extent, and I don't see anything wrong with getting paid and going after big-money fights.
"After all, that's what we're all in this business for in the first place," Cloud said.
"But if you're going to walk around and call yourself the best fighter in a certain division, you at least ought to be fighting everybody out there. Young, strong and unbeaten guys. Or at least guys that in your own age group."
Cloud claimed to have a signed contract to be Dawson's first defense after taking Antonio Tarver's IBF championship in late 2008, but was pushed aside when Tarver exercised a rematch clause and Dawson was granted an exception from meeting his No. 1 contender.
He expected the shot to come after Dawson beat Tarver a second time, but, rather than facing a mandatory challenge from the 27-year-old Tallahassee native, Dawson instead chose to vacate the title in favor of a return bout with 40-year-old Glen Johnson in November.
And now, rather than waiting for a third jilting, Cloud is taking action.
He'll finally get a first crack at a shiny belt later this week in his home state, where he and No. 2 contender Clinton Woods will compete for Dawson's discarded IBF jewelry at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
The fight will share top billing on ESPN2's 'Friday Night Fights' show with an IBF 140-pound title bout between incumbent champion Juan Urango and top contender Randall Bailey.
"It'll be nine weeks in camp at the end of this week and I've trained harder than I've ever trained before," Cloud said. "I'm ready to accomplish something that I've never accomplished before, which is win a world title. I'm taking it easy and letting it all come to me.
"And when the bell rings, it's going to be the same old me, times 10."
In Woods, he faces a 37-year-old with an impressive resume of his own, including a four-defense reign as IBF champion from 2005-08 and a list of foes featuring established light heavyweight names like Jones, Tarver and Johnson.
The Englishman has been beaten in both previous trips to the U.S., however, a trend Cloud has no intentions of changing come this weekend.
"To tell the truth, I think he's tailor-made for me and we're going to give him a nice welcome," he said. "I've studied tapes of him and he's a basic fighter. He doesn't do anything fancy or hard to figure out. He just keeps coming at you over and over."
Such a strategy has been troublesome for Cloud's past opponents, only one of whom -- record-setting journeyman Reggie Strickland, in a scheduled four- rounder back in 2005 -- has been around to hear the final bell in 19 opportunities.
He toppled a former WBO champion in Julio Cesar Gonzalez in his last fight, stopping the Mexican export in round 10 of a scheduled 12-rounder, exceeding his previous long by five rounds and pushing his career rounds total to 55.
An economical 2.89 average for an eager-to-do-damage Cloud.
"I think a lot of people are taking this fight every bit as seriously as the Dawson/Glen Johnson fight," he said. "I'm a more exciting fighter than Chad is. I have a more crowd-pleasing style and I think a lot of people are watching this fight because they know that.
"My goal is to destroy my opponent by any means necessary, to inflict enough pain to make him quit or to have someone come in and take mercy on him. That's the way I do it and I think the people love it.
"I'm the best light heavyweight in the world and I'm going to keep getting better."
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If Timothy Bradley wants another crack at Nate Campbell, it's his for the asking.
That according to Campbell's manager, Terry Trekas, who claimed this week that the Californian will steer clear of reprising the aborted three-round WBO junior welterweight title bout that was declared a no-contest Tuesday by the California State Athletic Commission.
The original Aug. 1 verdict was a TKO in favor of Bradley, after Campbell was rendered unable to continue by a severe cut over his left eye. Referee David Mendoza ruled the cut the result of a punch, but video replay showed it came from an accidental head butt, prompting the reversal.
"If Bradley wants a rematch to settle things once and for all, he can get it," Trekas said. "But we both know he doesn't want it."
Bradley, in an Aug. 25 story on mydesert.com, contends Campbell quit because he was losing.
"It had nothing to do with the cut," he said. "They said it was from the impact from the head butt where he couldn't see. I was like 'no, it was all those punches that landed on those eyes.'
"The fight was stopped because you couldn't see. It had nothing to do with the cut. I didn't understand it. I know he quit and he knows in his heart he quit. No one sees that. That's the reason I'm upset. Everyone knows he quit."
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This week's title-fight schedule:
FRIDAY IBF junior welterweight title -- Hollywood, Fla. Juan Urango (champion) vs. Randall Bailey (No. 1 contender) Urango (21-2-1, 16 KO): First defense of second reign; Two wins in four title fights (2-2, 0 KO) Bailey (39-6, 35 KO): Held WBO title in 1999-2000; Lost four straight title fights
FitzHitz says: Urango by decision
Vacant IBF light heavyweight title -- Hollywood, Fla. Tavoris Cloud (No. 1 contender) vs. Clinton Woods (No. 2 contender) Cloud (19-0, 18 KO): First title fight; Only two fights beyond four rounds (2-0, 2 KO) Woods (42-4-1, 24 KO): Held IBF title from 2005-08; Winless in two trips to U.S. (0-2)
FitzHitz says: Cloud in 10
SATURDAY IBF junior flyweight title -- Honolulu, Hawaii Brian Viloria (champion) vs. Jesus Iribe (No. 15 contender) Viloria (25-2, 15 KO): First title defense; Held WBC title in 2005-06 Iribe (15-5-5, 9 KO): Lost WBC title fight in 2008; Four-fight unbeaten streak (3-0-1, 2 KO)
FitzHitz says: Viloria in 9
IBF junior featherweight/WBA super bantamweight title -- Mexicali, Mexico Celestino Caballero (champion) vs. Francisco Leal (unranked) Caballero (32-2, 22 KO): Eighth WBA/Second IBF title defense; Unbeaten since 2004 (13-0, 8 KO) Leal (14-4-2, 9 KO): First title fight; Three wins in last eight fights (3-3-2, 1 KO)
FitzHitz says: Caballero in 6
WBO cruiserweight title -- Halle, Germany Victor Emilio Ramirez (champion) vs. Marco Huck (No. 2 contender) Ramirez (15-1, 12 KO): First title defense; Second fight outside Argentina (1-0, 1 KO) Huck (25-1, 20 KO): Lost IBF title fight in 2007; Unbeaten in last six fights (6-0, 6 KO)
FitzHitz says: Huck by decision
Last week's picks: 2-1
Overall picks record: 118-46 (71.9 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 20-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to Stone Cold Sports on the MVN Network (stonecoldsports.com) and several sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz.