Now that the crowd was warmed up with the thrilling upset win by Glowacki, it was time for the main even as Antonio Tarver stepped into the ring against Steve Cunningham. The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds at the heavyweight division.
After watching the Glowacki-Huck fight and the crowd being so into it, this fight was definitely a little bit of a letdown. From round 1, there were boos coming from the crowd. Cunningham looked solid, but as usual he had no pop behind his punches, while Tarver had more power, especially in his left, but his punches were slower and seemed to be telegraphed.
For the first three rounds of this fight, the action seemed to lack crowd intensity and the aura of a big fight. In round 4, Cunningham got his feet tied up in the ropes, which made it look like he was stunned, but nothing significant was landed and both fighters continued to exchange.
In the 5th and 6th Cunningham continued to land more, catching Tarver with more shots and moving much better, but not hurting Tarver. It was one of those fights that you could tell early that either Tarver was going to catch Cunningham or we’d all have to see if Cunningham can for once get the benefit of the doubt on the card.
In the 7th round, Tarver started to throw a little more, but he didn’t connect on much and the round was highlighted by a Tarver miss that made his own body spin around. Cunningham continued to move well and avoided any trouble from Tarver in the round.
After round 8 had passed, there was a wide range of scores on press row, some having Cunningham up 4 points while some had the fight even. Barring a miracle, it was evident to everyone this was likely going the distance and the scores were going to be interesting.
In rounds 9 and 10, Tarver became more aggressive, pinning Cunningham on the ropes and working the body. It was probably the 2 best rounds by Tarver to this point. At this time, I still had Cunningham up slightly on the cards, but Tarver could just as easily be up, too.
Tarver continued to end the fight well. Likely winning rounds 11 and 12. While most thought the fight going longer would favor the much younger Cunningham, Tarver seemed to get stronger as the fight went along. I personally had the fight a draw. When the scorecards were read the scored were 115-113 Cunningham, 115-114 Tarver, 114-114 for a split decision draw.