Two aging boxers were in high stakes action against much younger opponents last night at Home Depot Center in Carson, CA but experienced very different results from each other.
After a long, grudge-filled media build up, 43 year old IBO cruiserweight champion Antonio Tarver met 29 year old Nigerian challenger Lateef Kayode in an interesting matchup pitting the younger slugger against the older, skilled boxer.
NABA titlist Kayode immediately fought against type, surprisingly allowing the left-handed Tarver to take the lead and fighting defensively off the back foot. This tactical change threw the champion and allowed Kaoyde to build up an early lead as the African outpaced a careful Tarver, going to the body and landing right hand counters.
Tarver kept Kayode guessing with lead right hooks and body work of his own along with the occasional straight left but the champion was simply being outworked.
After the fifth, Tarver produced a much needed change of approach, suddenly becoming aggressive and employing combinations. This came at the perfect time as Kayode seemed winded from his high activity early rounds and was no longer as mobile.
Tarver began to time Kayode perfectly in the seventh, nailing the challenger with full-blooded straight left hands that at times clearly hurt Kayode over the next three rounds, but the younger man never went down.
Kayode got his second wind in the 11th but couldn't regain control of the bout but did have a better final round than Tarver, which likely cost the champion the victory as scores of 115-113, 113-115 and 114-114 produced a Draw, allowing the American to retain his title for the first time.
Tarver goes to 29-6 (1), while Kayode, participating in his first world title bout, sees his record to 18-0-1 (14).
The undercard saw the return of former WBC,WBA,IBF, WBO light middle champ Winky Wright after a three year hiatus as the 40 year old met undefeated 28 year old contender Peter Quillin in a ten round middleweight contest.
From the start, southpaw Quillin was bigger, faster and stronger but Wright clearly had the edge in experience and it was a difficult learning experience for the younger fighter.
Wright pressed Quillin for most of the fight, working behind a sharp right jab and occasionally slamming home hard left hands but the veteran's lack of explosive mobility meant he could never really improve upon his work.
It wasn't pretty but the awkward Quillin was busier than Wright and in the second half of the bout started to get the measure of his opponent, bashing the former champion with bracing combinations and flooring Wright in the fifth frame with a counter right to the chin.
Wright was hurt by an uppercut later in the fight but survived and came back to make the bout competitive, but in the end, Quillin's youth and reflexes won the day, sweeping the cards on scores of 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92.
Quillin improves to 27-0 (20) while Wright has now lost three straight, falling to 51-6-1 (25).
There were two world title clashes also on the show as lefty Austin Trout, 25-0 (14), outboxed big-hearted Delvin Rodriguez, 26-6-3 (14), over 12 rounds by margins of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.
Bantamweight prospects Leo Santa Cruz, 20-0-1 (11), and Vusi Malinga, 20-4-1 (12), tangled over the vacant IBF crown with Santa Cruz banging out a 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109 points verdict after 12 rounds to win his first world title bout.