I had a chance to catch up with ‘The Magic Man’ himself, Antonio Tarver, ahead of his official return to boxing commentating. Tarver is a former IBO/WBA/WBC/IBF light heavyweight champion, who beat the likes of Roy Jones Jr, Glen Johnson and Montell Griffin. Now Tarver is currently making a run in the heavyweight division in hopes of capturing one more title before he retires.
In this interview I get Antonio’s thoughts on his return to boxing commentary for Spike TV’s Premier Boxing Championship. Tarver also discussed the talk of him possibly fighting Shannon Briggs and what he makes of Briggs’ comments toward him. Lastly, ‘The Magic Man’ talks about the long awaiting Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight and what he thinks the fight means to not just boxing but to sports in general. Here is what Antonio Tarver had to say,
Robert Brown: You’re coming back to where you belong on Spike TV doing commentary on Premier Boxing. Can you talk to us a little bit about it?
Antonio Tarver: I’m excited, this is a new wave of boxing, it’s going back to network TV; Spike, NBC and CBS as well. I’m really excited about it, just to be a part of this new beginning in boxing and I think if you remember back in the early 80’s, that’s where you had most of your prime time fights at.
I remember great fights like Holyfield-Qawi, those types of battles, and we got them for free, you didn’t have to subscribe to any network or pay some outrageous Pay-Per-View price, even though there were some fights that called for that. For the most part, I’m just glad to know that on any given Friday or Saturday, you can sit back and choose to watch boxing on network TV, and that I’m very excited about.
Spike TV is basically becoming a combat sport network where you get from MMA to some boxing every other Friday. It’s combat sports man, I think that’s the new wave, we’re gonna bridge that gap and MMA fans are gonna become boxing fans and boxing fans will become MMA fans.
I think it’s time now that both sports cross over because I think when you look at both sports, you gotta just love the combat part of it, it’s mano a mano, man against man, and nine times out of ten you’re gonna see somebody get knocked out. That’s entertainment at its finest.
Robert Brown: How grateful are for the fans and the public out there that called for your return to commentating?
Antonio Tarver: I am man, and no matter what happened, for me to lose that job at Showtime, I was very grateful for the opportunity and I really had a chance to hone my skills. I prayed a lot of nights that I’d have the opportunity just to get back and do what I love to do and that’s bring boxing to the common folk and just let the people understand what’s going on and give them a perspective.
I hope that I’m able to do that with the very best of them. I’m gonna continue to try to get better as time goes on but I definitely see myself doing commentary for some years to come. Yes, this is definitely a blessing and I have Spike TV and also Al Haymon to thank for that because he really pushed very hard for me to get back on air.
Robert Brown: You stated interest in fighting Shannon Briggs, why are you interested in fighting him now?
Antonio Tarver: He had some choice words to say about me, he had an opinion, he called me a bum. That was a challenge to me. He called me a bum and I called his bluff, that’s what that was. It lasted for about a week but if he was serious about doing anything other than waiting on September and praying that Klitschko gives him an opportunity, that’s just on him.
I’m a fighter and I say September ain’t promised to nobody, it isn’t guaranteed that Klitschko is gonna choose to pick him to fight — especially when he’s fought no one, he’s beaten nobody, he’s done nothing but run his mouth on this social media campaign. That doesn’t cut it and if real true boxing fans buy that crap, then shame on them.
Shannon Briggs has done nothing but make himself like a total asshole and antagonizing Wladimir Klitschko into a fight. Yeah he got a lot of people’s attention, they laugh at stuff like that, but what he refused to do is fight a top ten opponent. He would rather wait for September, I don’t understand that.
Shit, I would like to go into a fight with Wladimir Klitschko with some momentum, having beaten somebody of credibility. That’s why I want to fight the likes of a guy like David Haye because he’s popular and he hasn’t really lost that many times — he’s a threat — and beating him really catapults a fight against Wladimir Klitschko.
I want to do what great fighters do, they step up, they perform and they do things that most people don’t see them doing. I want to prove that I belong in the ring with Wladimir Klitschko, I don’t want a hand out, I want to come in as a challenger, not a hand picked opponent. That’s the difference.
Shannon Briggs ain’t knocking me out, period. I’m not challenging him to do no three rounds, walk the walk if you’re gonna talk it. You called me a bum, I can prove to you that I ain’t a bum. Sign a contract to fight, I’ll prove to you I ain’t no bum. Guess what? That shot that shit down real quick.
I’m never gonna knock the next mans hustle, but of course he’s bluffing. When’s the last time you’ve seen Shannon Briggs beat anybody on national TV for the world to see? You haven’t seen it. You can fool some people some times but you can’t fool all the people all the time. If you seriously think you can beat Wladimir Klitschko, you should have no problem fighting me and we got plenty of time before September and I got dates. We can get a date on national TV and we can shut Shannon Briggs’ mouth up once and for all.
Robert Brown: I want to get your analyst view on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. There’s no more talk, there’s no more hype, what are your thoughts on it?
Antonio Tarver: Everybody keeps saying that these guys aren’t in their prime anymore but they’re still the two best fighters in the world pound for pound. I’m not gonna say that, you can never be twenty five years young again but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a smarter fighter and I think both of these fighters are smarter fighters because of their career and experience.
This fight has the potential to truly live up to the hype. A lot of mega fights rarely do that, but I think this fight has the potential to live up to the hype and if it does, this is truly gonna be a spectacle of all spectacles. I think this is gonna be the Super Bowl of sports and I think both of those guys deserve everything that they get and it would be a blessing if I can call this fight because I know I can do a great job even calling that fight.
The whole world will be watching and I can’t really call who’s gonna win. I got an opinion but it’s just an opinion like everybody else but I personally just want to witness the two very best fighters in the world going at it and laying that pound for pound title on the line. I know ‘Money’ Mayweather is gonna bring it and I know Pacquiao is gonna bring it. Both of these guys are gonna be in supreme condition and I’m just gonna sit back as a fan and enjoy the moment as the rest of the world is.