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Tavoris Cloud vs. Glen Johnson Fight Preview and Pick

Tavoris Cloud vs. Glen Johnson
When: Saturday, August 7, 2010
Where: Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri
TV: HBO at 10:00 pm-EST
Weight Class: IBF Light Heavyweight Championship: 12 Rounds

Tavoris Cloud, 20-0 (18 KOs), Tallahassee, Florida, IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Vs. Glen Johnson, 50-13-2 (34 KOs), Miami, Florida

Fight Odds: Tavoris Cloud (-250), Glen Johnson (+190)
Over/Under: TBA

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Fight Preview: On HBO on Saturday, IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Tavoris Cloud defends his title against former champion Glen Johnson. These are two fighters at opposite ends of the spectrum. Cloud is 28, only now beginning to make strides in his pro career. Johnson, conversely, is 41 and nearing the end of a long run that has seen him fight at the top level for over a dozen years.

At first glance you see Cloud at 20-0 (18 KOs) and notice he is 13 years younger than the 50-13-2 Johnson and you might be inclined to go with Cloud. The oddsmakers seem to be going that way, so you’d be within reason to go with the youngster. But let’s take a closer look at the information we have.

The knock on Cloud is that he is a bit unrefined and lacks quality wins. Sure he hits hard, but it’s one thing to dust off a bunch of journeymen and trialhorses and quite another to have that power translate against a proven commodity like Johnson. Cloud might have to rely on a bit more than sheer power, as Johnson has been stopped only once in 65 fights—13 years ago to the legendary Bernard Hopkins. To his credit, Cloud operates with a good workrate, which could allow him to put rounds in the bag, especially if Johnson comes out slowly.

Cloud’s best wins are over Julio Gonzalez and Clinton Woods. It is worth noting that neither opponent ever fought again after losing to Cloud, indicating that they were not only faded, but also had one foot out of the sport. Against Woods, who was clearly past his best, Cloud was somewhat unimpressive. He wasn’t sharp and his power, while telling, was somewhat muted against the rugged ex-champ. In addition, Cloud has been inactive for nearly a year following the Woods victory.

Johnson presents a whole different set of challenges to the raw Cloud. At 41, he might have slowed down a notch, but it’s difficult to identify when Johnson’s prime was exactly. His trajectory to the top is one of the more atypical ascensions in boxing history. He started off 32-0 before Hopkins dusted him off. From that point, he struggled—winning and losing against the best super middleweights and light heavyweights in the world. He racked up a bunch of losses and was considered an afterthought when he fought Roy Jones in 2004. After knocking Jones clean out and beating Antonio Tarver, he was named 2004 Fighter of the Year. He lost the return to Tarver in 2005, but kept getting back into the mix.

Johnson dropped an iffy hometown decision to Woods in 2006, but then scored three knockouts over decent opposition to earn a shot at new champ Chad Dawson. In a spirited performance, Johnson appeared to edge the young champion, only to lose a unanimous decision. A few wins later, he got another shot at Dawson and this time, Dawson appeared to more decisively beat him, though it was scored closer than the first fight. Since then, Johnson returned to score an emphatic knockout over streaking contender Yusaf Mack. You just can’t get rid of this guy.

There is a lot on the line in this fight and should give way to two spirited performances. Cloud has languished in obscurity for a while now and wants to punch his ticket with a good showing here. If he beats Johnson, he immediately becomes a top guy at 175. Johnson is also fighting with urgency, as this is his last chance to remain relevant. A loss here would set him back and at 41, he is out of time to begin a rebuilding process. I expect both men to be at their best on Saturday.

Scotty's Pick to Win: Cloud is a good young fighter. He throws a lot of punches at times and his power is indeed genuine. His hands are unmistakably heavy. I just think that the better-rounded skill set of Johnson will win the day. He has the experience, defense, and durability to render Cloud’s powerpunching a bit less formidable.

Cloud should come out fast and he might take some early rounds with his workrate while Johnson gets warmed up. Johnson will then begin to zero in with his bodywork and trademark aggression. His greater polish and versatility will show. I think he will be able to impose his will on Cloud, take most of the second-half rounds, and emerge a decision winner. Take the +190 on Glen Johnson to win.

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