But Tarver, nevertheless, told Yahoo!Sports that he expects the 46-year-old RING and WBC light heavyweight champion Hopkins to go down swinging against southpaw Dawson on Saturday night when they meet on HBO Pay Per View at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“That Hopkins has done well and at 46 years old, wow, what he has done is unbelievable,” said Tarver, who, like Dawson, is a left-handed fighter.
“That said, I just think Dawson is too talented, too young, and I think he’s just too good. That’s just my take on it after being in the ring with both guys.”
But Tarver is among several southpaws who have been vanquished by Hopkins, who is 10-1, with five knockouts and a no contest against left-handers.
The now-retired Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs) is the only left-handed fighter who can claim victory over Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs), who fell short in a disputed split-decision in April of 2008.
Since then, however, Hopkins is 4-0-1, with his most recent triumph being May’s unanimous decision over Canada’s Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) to become the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant title belt.
Dawson has twice decisioned Tarver, back-to-back, in October of 2008 and May of 2009. Hopkins was the underdog when he faced Tarver in June of 2006, yet floored Tarver once on the way to a one-sided unanimous decision in his light heavyweight debut.
Hopkins was an underdog, yet again, when he dethroned Pascal. Hopkins-Pascal II was a rematch of December’s disputed, majority draw during which Hopkins rose from knockdowns in the first and third rounds and appeared to successfully out-box Pascal for the win.
Since losing his title bid to Pascal by 11th-round technical decision a year ago in August, the 29-year-old Dawson (30-1, 17) has bounced back with May’s one-sided unanimous decision over Adrian Diaconu.
Among the best southpaws Hopkins has beaten are Tarver and past beltholders Winky Wright, Keith Holmes and John David Jackson.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com