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LAS VEGAS - Chad Dawson remained unbeaten and retained his IBF light heavyweight title on Saturday with an unanimous decision over fellow American Antonio Tarver.
The bout was a rematch of their October fight, in which Dawson seized the crown.
This time around, he spoiled 40-year-old Tarver's perfect 3-0 record in rematches as he improved his own record to 28-0 with 17 knockouts.
Tarver fell to 27-6 with 19 wins inside the distance.
Two judges scored the bout 117-111 for Dawson, while a third saw it 116-112.
It wasn't as lopsided a victory as Dawson notched in October against his fellow southpaw, as Tarver proved tougher the second time around.
"He said he would come back stronger - he came back stronger, I'll give him that," Dawson said. "He definitely took me off my game. My hat's off to Antonio Tarver."
Tarver, keen to keep alive a winning streak in rematches that had seen him avenge losses to Roy Jones jnr, Glen Johnson and Eric Harding, was the aggressor, but the 26-year-old Dawson managed to block many of his blows while connecting on more of his own.
But Dawson admitted he "felt a little out of my element" at times.
"He pushed the fight and took me off my game plan. He threw a lot of punches, but I was catching most of them," Dawson said.
Dawson said he didn't know who he might fight next - although veteran Bernard Hopkins seems a likely candidate.
"I will fight whoever they throw in front of me," Dawson said. - Sapa-AFP