Tarver Antonio Tarver
I didn’t hear Pavlov’s bell, but if everyone’s barking, there must be breaking news.
Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, the cat with nine lives, is returning for life number ten.
Since his disappearing act from Showtime, where Showtime disappeared him after testing positive for PEDs following his no contest against Lateef Kayode* last year, Tarver has been keeping a relatively low profile, Twitter jousting aside.
That however is about to change.
On Tuesday, November 26, at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, the “Magic Man” (29-6, 20 KOs), not to be confused with the “Magic Man” who replaced him on Showtime, returns to action as a heavyweight against Palestine, West Virginia’s Mike Sheppard (21-15-1, 9 KOs).
Someone has to be the next American heavyweight hopeful. Who’s to say it won’t be Antonio Tarver.
It has been written that the 38-year-old Sheppard was the “Winner of six of his last nine bouts.” That’s true. But it could have just as easily been written that he has lost three of his last four fights, and that would be true as well.
Those three losses were against Vinny Maddalone in 2011, Brian Minto in 2012, and Ruslan Chagaev in 2013, all by knockout. Sheppard did win his last fight in August, but it was against 2-11 Justin Novaria at the Fish Bone Gill and Grill in Vienna, West Virginia.
The scent of home cooking still fills the air.
Tarver is an ebullient personality. Smart, loquacious and funny, he was an excellent commentator whose commentary has been missed (which is not to knock Malignaggi). But his ring career has been spotty at best since stopping Roy Jones Jr. way back in 2004. He has gone 7-4-1NC since then.
That might be discouraging to some, but Antonio Tarver isn’t easily discouraged.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the ring,” he says, “and showing the world that the ‘Magic Man’ is better than ever and ready for the big fights.
“This is the perfect opportunity to make a statement at home and I can’t wait.”
Another person who can’t wait is Tarver’s opponent, Mike Sheppard.
“Beating someone like Antonio Tarver would be career-altering for me,” Sheppard says. “I know what he’s accomplished in the sport, but I’m hungry for this and you’re going to see the best Mike Sheppard yet.”
The “best Mike Sheppard” might not be enough for a rusty former champion
Tune in to Golden Boy Live! on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes on November 26 at 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT to find out.
*Lateef Kayode entered the Boxing Quote Hall of Fame after his fight with Tarver when he spoke these immortal words: “I fuck he up!”