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Antonio Tarver suffers early blows: low weight, little fan support

TAMPA — If Friday's weigh-in was any indication, Antonio Tarver will be at a size and crowd disadvantage.

Normally the bigger boxer in most of his fights, Tarver weighed in at 173.75 pounds, while opponent Clinton Woods reached the 175-pound limit.

It's only the second time in Tarver's career that he has weighed less than 174 pounds. His lightest weigh-in, 173.50, came in a victory against Glen Johnson on June 18, 2005.

Johnson will be facing Chad Dawson on the other half of the co-main event.

The combatants staged the weigh-in in front of a boisterous, overflow crowd of mostly Woods supporters. A large portion of the crowd chanted Woods' name when Tarver climbed on the scale, and when one of Tarver's supporters made the prediction that Woods wouldn't last longer than five rounds, he was greeted by chants of "who are you?"

Meanwhile, Dawson and Johnson were both well under the 175-pound limit with Dawson weighing in at 173.5 pounds and Johnson 172.5.

ROOTING INTEREST: Though a Tarver win could mean a big payday for his fighter later in the year, Mike Criscio would rather see Woods knock the Tampa resident out tonight.

"We don't care about the money," said Criscio, who manages WBC champ Dawson. "He barely beat (Elvir) Muriqi. Tarver is a dead man walking."

The outspoken Criscio has relentlessly slammed Tarver during the past year. He says Tarver twice ducked fights with Dawson.

"He always has an excuse. It was money, then it was location … then it was me," Criscio said. "He wants no part of fighting Chad Dawson."

Gary Shaw promotes both fighters and said if both guys win tonight, he will match them up.

"I know positively Tarver will fight him," Shaw said.

SLICE OF HEAVEN: Street fighter-turned-rising MMA star Kimbo Slice is expected to attend tonight. Slice, who recently knocked out Tank Abbott in 43 seconds, is the big name in EliteXC, an MMA organization with which Shaw is involved.

TICKETS: Sales have been described as tepid, but with the dust still settling from the NCAA women's Final Four and Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, business has picked up in the past day, according to fight organizers. Starting at $25, tickets can still be purchased at the St. Pete Times Forum box office or by phone at (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.

Times staff writer John C. Cotey contributed to this report.

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Fight outlook

The light heavyweight division gets some clarification tonight with one of the year's best doubleheaders, as the IBO (Antonio Tarver), IBF (Clinton Woods) and WBC (Glen Johnson) belts will be on the line. For Tampa's Tarver, it will be his toughest test after a loss in 2006 to Bernard Hopkins. A win, and one by Dawson (who trained for a short time at the St. Pete Boxing Club) would set up a highly anticipated fight later this year. There are eight other fights scheduled on the undercard, including a light heavyweight matchup between St. Petersburg fighters Willie Chisolm and Akinyemi Laleye.

Antonio Tarver suffers early blows: low weight, little fan support 04/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:32am]
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