By Jake Donovan
It’s not the best way to keep an unbeaten streak alive, but Antonio Tarver can still look at his pair of losses to Chad Dawson as the last time he had to contend with the taste of the defeat.
The 43-year old southpaw held unbeaten cruiserweight prospect Lateef Kayode to a 12-round draw in their Showtime-televised main event Saturday evening at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The bout was there for the taking for Tarver, who began slow before picking up steam in the second half.
Tarver managed to hurt Kayode, most notably in rounds eight and nine when he scored with straight lefts to rock his much younger foe. The moments were short-lived as Tarver never successfully followed up on either instance.
Still, his late surge atoned for giving away several of the early rounds, one of the few things for which he accepted blame once the scores were read. The verdict was a split decision, with both fighters winning by scores of 115-113 while the third judge saw the bout even at 114-114.
The closest Tarver came to agreeing with the final outcome was finding a silver lining in the verdict.
“The only justice to come of all of this is that I still leave the ring with my title intact,” Tarver (29-6-1, 20KO) stated afterward. “I beat this man in every facet of the game.”
His corner would probably be the first to disagree. Between rounds midway through the main event, noted trainer and former two-time champ Buddy McGirt screamed to his charge that he was giving away the fight. It was at that point when Tarver woke up and took over the fight.
“I was trying to feel the guy out,” Tarver said of his slow start. “Maybe I fought down to his level. But I got busy at six(th round). There's no way they could give him a round from six on. He flung and missed all night.”
The draw is Tarver’s first non-win since returning to the ring in Oct. ’10. A points win over Nagy Aguilera was followed up by a high-profile 9th round knockout of Danny Green last July.
Regardless of the official outcome Tarver is content with his performance.
“It's a blemish on my record but we won't lose no sleep tonight.” Tarver insists.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments via e-mail.