Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode Battle to Draw

June 3, 2012

Carson, CA -- In an exciting back-and-forth bout in front of more than 4,000 fans at the Home Depot Center Saturday night, the experience of IBO champion Antonio Tarver and the youth of Lateef Kayode fought to a stalemate, with the judges scoring the fight a split decision draw -- 115-113 for Tarver, 115-113 for Kayode, and 114-114 even.

Tarver pulled off his own Jesse "The Body" Ventura imitation, coming out of the broadcast booth to fight an opponent who was upset over his commentary. Only this time Tarver did not have the luxury of facing Hillbilly Jim in a staged wrestling contest, as the undefeated Lateef Kayode proved to be a determined foe.

After months of pre-fight chatter from Kayode about knockouts, Kayode opened the bout with a tactical surprise, moving around the ring and boxing, rather than coming forward and engaging in a slugfest.

"They didn't want to get hit with the left hand," said Tarver. "He was running from it all night. I have never seen a guy run that much, box that much. He was supposed to be the guy with the power. I thought he was going to draw a line in the sand and see who was the man. I pressed him the whole night."

Kayode's movement, coupled with Tarver's months of ring rust, gave the busier Kayode an early edge in the fight, as he won at least four of the first five rounds on all three judges scorecards.

However,  Tarver's veteran poise turned things around in Round 6, as he repeatedly nailed Kayode with a powerful and accurate straight left hand.  From that point forward, the rally was on and the fight would not be the same.

In Round 7, Tarver threw a shot that knocked Kayode off-balance, prompting an embarrassed Kayode to respond with a flurry of ineffective body shots to close the round.

In Round 8, Tarver seemingly could not miss with the left hand, as he buckled Kayode with a shot and forced him to get on his bicycle.

In Round 9, a series of Tarver lefts again hurt Kayode, prompting the confident champion to drop his hands and look for a knockout blow.

After Tarver briefly switched from a southpaw to an orthodox stance in Round 10, Kayode mounted his own mini-rally, finding renewed energy in the championship rounds to let his hands go.

"Everybody knows I won this fight," Kayode said. "I am a strong man. I came to fight. Power is my name, and I did my job. I am better than him. He won because he works for Showtime."

In the end, the fight lived up to its promotional billing as a classic youth versus experience showdown.

The veteran Tarver demonstrated that he was the more savvy, skilled technician in the ring, establishing his jab in the early rounds and then strafing Kayode with power shots during the last half of the fight.

Moreover, his defense was superb, as he blocked many of Kayode's flurries, resulting in a paltry 8% overall connect percentage for the Nigerian.

Meanwhile, Kayode carried many rounds based on youthful energy alone, as he was simply the more active man in the ring during the early stages of the bout. Kayode threw 254 power shots compared to only 199 for Tarver.

The age discrepancy was also seen in the fighter's contrary demeanors, as Tarver fought with a businesslike focus, while Kayode gestured to the crowd and displayed his emotions, at one point by refusing to touch gloves with Tarver.

The DSH scored the bout even, giving Tarver rounds 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11, and Kayode the remainder. Several rounds were very close and reasonably could have been awarded either way.

At the post-fight press conference, Tarver indicated that he planned to fight again in four months so that he could shake off his ring rust.  He also indicated that he planned to fight another cruiserweight first before seeking a bout with heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko.

UNDERCARD: Sakio Bika Prevails With Round 10 TKO Over Dyah Davis

Super Middleweight veteran Sakio Bika closed his bout with a flourish, landing multiple clean shots to the head of opponent Dyah Davis.  With the staggered Davis struggling to defend himself from the onslaught, the referee stopped the bout at the 1:40 mark of Round 10.

With the victory, Bika now holds the NABF and WBO Intercontinental belts at 168 pounds.

UNDERCARD: Leo Santa Cruz Wins Belt With Defeat of Vusi Malinga

Local Southern Californian Leo Santa Cruz scored a unanimous decision win over Vusi Malinga to capture the vacant IBF Bantamweight title. The judges scored it 120-108, 120-108, and 119-109 for Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz set a blistering pace, throwing 1350 punches during the 12-round bout.  To his credit, the game Malinga kept coming forward and willingly went toe-to-toe with Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz however, was able to walk through Malinga's shots.

The difference for Santa Cruz proved to be his effective body work, as his thudding shots seemed to turn the momentum of the fight during the middle rounds.

UNDERCARD: Austin Trout Beats Delvin Rodriguez

Austin Trout put on an effective counterpunching display and kept his WBA Super Welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over veteran Delvin Rodriguez.  The judges scored the fight 117-111, 118-110, and 120-108 for Trout.

With the win, Trout positioned himself for a possible bout with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September, according to Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer. Alvarez has been searching for an opponent following the tragic accident to Paul Williams and a shoulder injury to James Kirkland.

News and Notes

Among the celebrities in attendance were 50 Cent, Metta World Peace, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Canelo Alvarez, Laila Ali, Sergio Mora, Virgil Hill, Devon Alexander, Ismayl Sillakh, and Abner Mares.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald


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