Antonio ‘Magic Man’ Tarver is aiming at becoming a heavyweight champion after having success for many years as a light heavyweight champion. Coming off of a KO win over Johnathon Banks, Tarver is looking to challenge the top fighters of the division to get closer to his goal.
In part two of my interview with Antonio Tarver, I talk to him about the fights he had with Roy Jones Jr. and the significance of his win over Jones. Tarver also spoke about his desire to face Wladimir Klitschko and gave insight into how he would fight the reigning IBO/WBA/RING heavyweight champion. Lastly, Antonio spoke about the upcoming championship fight between Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder and the possible Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown. Here is what Antonio Tarver had to say.
(Listen to the full 45 minute interview below)
Robert Brown: I want to talk about your fights with Roy Jones Jr. You lost a controversial decision in the first fight, going into the second fight, did you know you had to knock him out to win?
Antonio Tarver: I really trained to get him out of there and that was my focus because I felt that I clearly won the first fight but they took my titles like that. Understandably, he was the star of the division, he was the Floyd Mayweather of our time at that time, pound for pound king. I don’t think he lost two or three rounds in his whole career but some people said he was a shot fighter when we fought but I sure damn sure couldn’t tell by all of the tape I saw prior to that night.
They can say what they will, Roy was a beast, there was nobody trying to see Roy Jones until I saw him. There was no question who was the greatest fighter they had ever seen in all their life. He was fast, quick, had never been hit before, but when he fought me, he was a mere mortal and they don’t understand why. That’s the amazing part that I don’t understand, how could they not see me coming? How could they not see me coming after that illustrious amateur career I had, after I beat everybody in the amateurs: Cuban, Russian, German.
They should have see me coming, but it was a surprise to everybody that it was just me and Roy, and when the smoke cleared and when the dust settled, there was one man standing and that was me. They can twist and turn it anyway they want but that’s history, that’s the bottom line. Before Roy Jones stepped in the ring with me, there was nobody in comparison to him.
Robert Brown: You’re now aiming at fighting Wladimir Klitschko, what can you do that the other heavyweights haven’t been able to do? How can you crack the code?
Antonio Tarver: Those guys don’t know how to box, that’s the truth. They don’t have the skill, they don’t have the gift, they never won at this level of competition. I’ve won the Olympics, world titles five times, they don’t have the experience, they don’t know how to win under those conditions, they’ve never been there before.
You got to have a high boxing IQ to match wits with the Klitschko brothers because they’re from that computer age generation and that’s the generation I come from. I mastered that. It’s chess not checkers, I know how to fight, I’ve been a winner on every level. I know how to fight when it comes down to it, I’m a master in the ring.
Robert Brown: Do you believe you will knock Klitschko out if you fought him?
Antonio Tarver: I don’t know if I’ll knock him out. I think if he slips, he can get knocked out because the punch that hurts you is the punch you don’t see and that’s the one I’m gonna land, the one you don’t see coming. Those are the types of shots that I’m gonna be landing.
If I hit anybody on the chin with my left hand, they’re gonna be hurt. I’m confident that I can win that fight, I don’t know about knocking him out. Am I gonna go for the knockout? Of course, that’s the only way I know how to guarantee a win. It’s gonna be tough to do but I expect that.
Robert Brown: There’s a big fight on January 17th, Deontay Wilder vs. Bermane Stiverne. What are you thoughts on that fight and if you had a chance to fight the winner, would you fight either of those two for the WBC belt?
Antonio Tarver: Hell yeah, in a heart beat. WBC, that’s the green belt, that’s a legitimate championship, so becoming the oldest heavyweight champion, I would like to do it chopping down one of the great heavyweight champions of all time, Wladimir Klitschko. I would love to do it that way because there would be no doubt but at the same time, if it happens first with the winner of Wilder and Stiverne, then so be it.
My goal is still the same, to become heavyweight champion. Stiverne is the champion so that belt is out there and he has a tough fight with Wilder. If the fight ends within three, I like Wilder by knockout. The fight isn’t going six rounds, I believe from three to six, I like Stiverne to knock out Wilder. I think it will be a throwback classic, a real heavyweight fight. I can see them two coming to the middle of the ring and really letting it go like Hagler and Hearns.
I just think Wilder has a chance to clip him early. If Stiverne can withstand that and get that right hand in range and not take shots straight down the middle, I see him catching Wilder around round three or six but somebody’s getting knocked out before the sixth round. I don’t see think it’s going past six rounds, that’s my prediction.
Robert Brown: I want to ask you about the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Every one has theories about why the fight hasn’t happened, why do you feel the fight has yet to be made?
Antonio Tarver: Everybody has an opinion, I can’t really speak on what’s really going on but you can look at it from an economic sense where both of those guys figure, “If there’s 100% of a piece of pie and if I’m having to split 20% of that fighting this guy, shit I’m gonna keep fighting this guy. If I fight this guy, that means I’m gonna have to do 50%, I may even have to do 60-40 or something like that to get the fight done for the same amount of piece of pie.” If you’re looking at it from that way, that’s probably why the fight didn’t happen.
If you got a piece of pie, you better split it 80-20 or 60-40, or however it’s gonna be cut. From that standpoint, that’s why the fight didn’t happen, it didn’t make sense, it didn’t make money. It didn’t make financial sense, yeah it was a big fight but if you have to divide that pie up, you’re gonna get less for a tougher fight and it’s not gonna be worth it.
Robert Brown: If that fight does happen, who would you put your money on, Mayweather or Pacquiao?
Antonio Tarver: It’s hard to go against Mayweather. You really got to think that he’s gonna figure it out if he’s on his best day, then again, that’s Pacquiao man and Pacquiao is gonna go for it. I just know it’s gonna be a hell of a fight whenever they do fight, if that fight lives up to the billing.
I think styles make fights, I think it’s a perfect style that really lends to the fact that it could be a great fight because Pacquiao is gonna be pressing, coming from different angles, giving Mayweather movement. Mayweather’s gonna be sharp on his defense, throwing those pot shot accurate punches, working off of that beautiful jab to the stomach and to the head.
It’s gonna be a chess match but I think during that boxing match a fight’s gonna break out and when that fight breaks out, both guys are gonna have to lay it on the line, it’s gonna be about heart then. You can say who’s gonna win that but you never know because you can’t measure the heart of a man. I think in that type of fight, both guys are gonna be tested and I think Pacquiao’s gonna land some great shots.
I can see Pacquiao landing a good shot, we could see Mayweather hurt in that fight and you can see Mayweather fight back like he’s shown in the past, even when he’s hurt, he’s gonna fight through it. Mayweather’s shown he has big heart too — I’ll never forget the Zab Judah fight and also when he fought Shan Mosley, he got rocked but when he got hurt, he was more dangerous then.
I can see Pacquiao hurting Floyd and Floyd fighting back and taking over the fight and winning the decision but it’s gonna be an exciting fight, I can’t wait. Mayweather’s been in some tough fights and he’s proven he can handle the pressure so you can’t bet against Mayweather but you just know he’s gonna be tested in a way he’s never been tested before fighting with a Pacquiao.
That’s what we want to see, that’s why people have invested and paid their money all these years to see them fight the big fights. That’s a fight that has to happen. I think there’s urgency on it right now because both of them want to go down as the greatest.
One of them is gonna go down as the best ever. That will be Mayweather’s claim to fame, if he can beat Pacquiao. It’s a big fight on both parts. Pacquiao has the mark of a true champion, getting knocked out and still bouncing back and solidifying himself as one of the premier fighters in the game today, you got to respect and appreciate that.