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Tarver dethrones Woods, Dawson survives Johnson

TAMPA, Fla. - Antonio Tarver climbed into the ring with one light heavyweight title Saturday night. He departed with two championship belts and a roaring crowd behind him.

Tarver handily defeated Clinton Woods with a unanimous 12-round decision to retain his lightly regarded IBO crown and seize the IBF title from his British foe.

Tarver (27-4, 19 KOs) thrilled his hometown fans by rocking Woods with a solid left jab to the head in the 11th round. The Tampa resident carried the momentum into the final round, then thrust his hands upward at the final bell as Woods dropped his head and returned to his corner.

Judge Howard Foster scored the bout 119-109 for Tarver. John Rupert had it 117-111, and Steve Marshall called it 116-112.

Tarver immediately turned his attention to the future.

"It's all about the belts. I want all the beltholders," said the 39-year-old southpaw, who brazenly claimed to be the only champion among three light heavyweight titleholders at a news conference Thursday.

The trio includes Chad Dawson, who earlier in the night defended his WBC title with a unanimous 12-round decision over former IBF titleist Glen Johnson.

"Chad Dawson right now is easy pickings," Tarver said. "He's not the fighter that he was before tonight. He got hit by Glen Johnson. Getting hit by Glen Johnson is different than getting hit by Antonio Tarver."

Woods (41-4-1, 25 KOs) was seeking his fifth defense of the belt he captured three years ago with a technical knockout of Rico Hoye. The Sheffield, England, native was coming off a unanimous decision over former champion Julio Gonzalez last September in his hometown.

The 25-year-old Dawson (26-0, 17 KOs) withstood a serious challenge from the veteran Johnson (47-12-2, 32 KOs), more than the scorecards indicated. Johnson and his supporters openly shared their frustration with the decision of the judges, who each scored it 116-112.

"Of all the tough losses I've had, this is the worst one. At my age, I can't afford to lose fights like this anymore," said Johnson, who turned 39 in January. "I hurt him many times. He hardly landed any good punches on me."

Dawson felt every bit the undefeated champion, but gave the challenger his due.

"Glen is a great fighter," Dawson said. "He caught me with some good shots, but I took them."

Source: Associated Press

B-Money's thoughts:

The light heavyweight division is almost as good as the welterweight division. Tarver convincingly beat Woods to retain the IBO title and gain the IBF strap. Tarver's win was legitmate. The other victor on the card, WBC champion Chad Dawson, didn't have as easy of a time against former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson. Easy or not, the two winners were officially Tarver and Dawson. What does this mean? There will likely be a Dawson vs Tarver matchup later in the year - probably sometime in the fall. These guys have belts, but they're missing something. The real light heavyweight championship of the world. That is beginning contested on Saturday night between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, who is moving up in weight to 175lbs to challenge Hopkins.