Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson Fight – Betting Odds ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
| Tarver-Johnson Breakdown |
By Michael DiSanto
In 52 professional fights, Roy Jones, Jr. has been sent to thecanvas a total of three times – once by each of Lou Del Valle,Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. Only two of them, however, madeJones stay down. Those two men are set to square off on Saturdaynight to determine who is, in fact, the best light heavyweightin the world (HBO 9PM ET).
When recognized world champion Antonio “MagicMan” Tarver and former alphabet titlist Glen Johnson begintheir pugilistic dance, it will be an interesting clash of stylesbetween two very different prizefighters.
On one hand, you have Tarver, who is the consummateboxer-puncher that prefers to play the role of counterpuncher.On the other hand, you have Johnson, who is a volume-punchingbrawler that must play the role of aggressor to be successful.
In other words, Tarver-Johnson is an interestingmatch up that should result in a fan-friendly fight.
One of the big keys to victory for Tarver (22-2,18 KOs) is staying away from the ropes and corners. Johnson isa volume-punching brawler in that he tries to overwhelm his opponentwith combination punching. He is the most effective when he cantrap his opponents against the ropes (or in a corner), smotherthem and then let his hands go with reckless abandon.
Johnson is so effective with that strategy becausehe always shows up with incredible conditioning. He knows thathe can bomb away at trapped opponents all night long without fearof punching himself out.
The longer, taller Tarver simply has no advantageswhen fighting in that situation. However, he has all the advantageswhen they are fighting in the center of the ring. He is bigger,quicker, throws straighter punches, has better reflexes and footwork,and delivers his blows with more power.
Therefore, Tarver must make things difficult forJohnson (and easy for himself) by staying off the ropes and outof the corners.
Throw caution to the wind – to a degree
Antonio Tarver sometimes fights too cautiously and that can leadto problems against a fighter like Johnson. If Tarver comes outtentative, it will give the Jamaican the confidence to let hishands go with enough frequency to steal rounds and inflict damagefrom an accumulation of punches.
However, Tarver has nothing to fear from Johnsonin terms of punching power, so there is no reason to fight defensively.Forget what happened in Jones-Johnson. The Road Warrior does nothave legitimate knockout power – his 53.8% knockout ratio is paltryat best.
Additionally, Tarver has an incredible chin. Ifhe can make it to the final bell after suffering a broken jawagainst Eric Harding, he can absorb any punch that he sees comingfrom Johnson. So, there is little fear that Johnson will hurtthe champ with any single shot aside from a blind punch.
Tarver, therefore, should fight with calculatedaggression and let his hands go freely throughout the fight. Whenhe fights like that, Antonio Tarver is extremely tough to beat.
Back him up
One of the keys to winning any fight is to makeyour opponent do what he is not comfortable doing. For Tarver,that means making Johnson fight while moving backwards.
Pressure fighters like Johnson typically adoptthat style because they do not have the athleticism or hand speedfight backing up – very few fighters do. When Johnson is movingbackwards, he is forced to throw harmless arm punches. He canneither hurt Tarver nor score many points fighting in that manner.
Thus, Tarver should come out of his comfort zoneas a counterpuncher and look to take the fight to Johnson. Tarvermust get off first with a good, solid jab mixed in with calculatedlead lefts – that is the key to backing Johnson up. In other words,Tarver should follow the exact same game plan that he used inthe first Jones fight.
Stay true to yourself
Glen Johnson’s biggest key to victory is to simplybe Glen Johnson. In other words, he needs to come out and throwa lot of punches early in the fight to force Tarver into a defense-firstmode of fighting.
Against Roy Jones, Johnson threw 84 punches inthe first round, and that really set the tone for the entire evening.It frustrated Jones and forced him into a very defensive mindset,which then allowed the Road Warrior to basically do whatever hewanted in the ring.
If Johnson can come out and throw 70+ punchesin the first few rounds, he will accomplish two things. First,he will build up a lead on the scorecards, which is very importantsince Johnson’s biggest asset is his conditioning, while his biggestweakness is his lack of punching power. Suffice it to say, hehas the stamina to outwork Tarver late, but doesn’t carry enoughdynamite to score a come from behind knockout in the closing rounds.
Second, constant volume punching allows Johnsonto get on the inside and smother his taller opponent. At a shadeover 6’2, Tarver needs some space to deliver meaningful counterpunches.He is not comfortable fighting in a phone booth, so that is preciselywhat Johnson should force him into.
Tax early, spend late
Tarver enters the fight with solid advantagesin power and speed, so Johnson has to find a way to neutralizethose advantages, especially as the fight goes on as he does notwant to stand in front of a fully energized Tarver late in thefight. Well, the best way to sap strength and energy out of youropponent is to treat his arms, ribs and midsection like a lumberjacktreats a redwood tree – chop at it hard and chop at it often.
When Johnson fought Roy Jones, Jr., he reallyshowed the world the benefits of pounding the body early in afight. After a few rounds, Jones’ counterpunches lost some oftheir zip. Roy no longer moved with the same bounce in his step.Johnson, therefore, felt safe to open up the war chest and attackwith his entire arsenal, which ultimately led to a knockout victory.
If Johnson can smother Tarver through the firstfive or six rounds and really concentrate on battering his body,then the fight becomes very winnable.
When Tarver covers up in the corners, Johnsonshould pound his upper arms and shoulders. When Tarver lays againstthe ropes, Johnson should look to land a left hook to the liver.And when they’re in the center of the ring, Johnson should stepinside behind lead right hands to the chest and pound Tarver’srib cage until there is a clinch.
Once he’s taxed Tarver’s body enough, Johnsoncan begin focusing on his softened up opponent’s head and theknockout. Kill the body and the head will also die.
Suffice it to say, Tarver enters as the -295 favoritefor a reason. On paper, he is the better fighter. If he executesthe proper game plan, this is a fight that he should not lose.
However, both men have shocked the world before.If an overconfident or overly cautious Tarver allows Johnson todictate the pace of the fight, then it could be a short reignat the top for the Magic Man.