Tarver: To Shock the World

By Gordon Marino on August 27, 2015
Tarver: To Shock the World
He dreams of a matchup with fellow Floridian, WBC champion Deontay Wilder. (PBC)

“I am giving the quest one more year,” says Tarver. “I am fighting good opponents and not getting beaten up…”

Antonio Tarver (31-6-1, 22 knockouts) is a very amiable guy—which is amazing considering the size of the chip that he has always carried on his shoulder. A possible future Hall of Famer—and the first man to beat the indomitable Roy Jones, Tarver feels unappreciated, by both fans and judges. The draw verdict that he recently received after his 12-round battle with Steve “USS” Cunningham (28-7-1, 13 knockouts) only augmented Tarver’s pique.

In a recent interview, the Magic Man moaned, “I won the fight. I controlled the tempo, the rhythm and pace of the fight. Yes he threw a lot of punches but I was catching them all. He didn’t hurt me once. But you don’t get any credit for defense these days.” Tarver laughed, “Unless you are Floyd Mayweather!”

Tarver continued, “I hurt my left hand in the second round. I threw a body shot and he caught it with his elbow. When I went back to the corner I thought it was broken but in a couple of rounds I was able to use it again. If I had not had the problem with the hand I would have been more aggressive.” After the contest, x-rays showed that Tarver has a tiny fracture near the wrist.

The draw did not draw the curtain on Tarver’s ring career. “I am still looking to find the right weight. I was 225 for Banks and 217 for Cunningham but I still felt a little sluggish and slow on my feet. I think I’ll go down to 212 and at the same time work on getting stronger.”

The thing that impressed Tarver the most about himself was that at 46 and up against a supremely conditioned opponent, “I was the one bringing the fight and pressing the action in the championship two rounds.”

Tarver quest is, a la Ali, “to shock the world” by winning the heavyweight championship. But he won’t be tilting at windmills. “I am giving the quest one more year. I am fighting good opponents and not getting beaten up.”

He plans to be back in the ring by December, as for opponents, the bigger the name the better. While he recognizes that exchanging leather with Klitschko is unlikely, he dreams of a matchup with fellow Floridian, WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder. Tarver detects a lot of flaws in Wilder’s science. The Bronze Bomber goes straight back. He drops his hands and does not show a lot of movement.

Tarver said, “Cunningham respected me—maybe too much. Wilder would come out fully confidant that he was going to knock me out in the first few wide rounds. But when that didn’t happen, his confidence would slip away and I would go to work.”

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. His The Quotable Kierkegaard was recently published by Princeton University Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

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  1. George 05:35am, 08/29/2015

    Tarver is no George Forman or Bernard Hopkins. Give it up, Antonio.

  2. Bob 03:35am, 08/28/2015

    Tarver is very talented, but a classic underachiever who will frustrate fans every time. How he lives with such delusion is incomprehensible.  He should do himself and the fans a favor and go away. We hear the same jibberish from him before and after every fight. Enough is enough.

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