Antonio Tarver: 2008 Will Be My Year

By G. Leon


Antonio Tarver: 2008 Will Be My Year

GL: What's the latest and greatest with Antonio Tarver? "We're just working hard right now G. I'm staying ready to keep from getting ready. They're trying to make moves out there but they have to come see me, so we're just being patient and just learning from my past mistakes. I'm not taking anything for granted and I'm staying ahead of them. I want to put everyone on notice that I'm in the gym and I feel like something big is going to happen before the year is out and I look forward to having a big 2008."

GL: When can we expect you back in the ring and on what network?

Antonio Tarver: "We were really trying to put that Dawson thing together. It fell through because of his mandatory. That's the only reason the fight didn't happen and we respect that. Some guys need those belts for an identity and he happens to be one of those guys right now. Hopefully he's successful in his mandatory defense. The fight is still out there. I want to put to rest all of those negative things his manager has been saying. There's no way in hell we would turn down a fight with Dawson. We feel very confident going into that fight. I feel that as long as I'm here in the light heavyweight division, this is my division. Hopkins had a chance to fight me in the rematch and he chose otherwise. He went down and made a catch weight with Winky and even when you win sometimes you lose. He looked so bad in the fight and to me it was a dead fight. It wasn't entertaining. He's not a fan favorite and when it comes to his fights, if you've seen one you've seen them all. There's nothing new to him. He uses every advantage even when he breaks the rules.

"At first I thought if he won against Winky it would be a fight that could be made, but you really can't make any money with Hopkins and I'm in it to make the biggest money fight that I can make. Outside of me just beating him in the rematch, it don't hold weight. I just wanted to go on record and say that fight doesn't interest me anymore. He didn't look good against Winky. It was a sloppy fight and not entertaining. I'm all about bringing the biggest and most exciting fights to the fans. With that being said, there's a couple of names on my agenda that we're trying to make.

"I think the Europeans are in style right now. I think they've taken over the heavyweight division, I think they've taken over the 168 pound class and they're looking at that Ricky Hatton blueprint feeling they can become bigger stars universally by coming to America and I'm willing to give them that bridge over here.

"Any of the light heavyweight champions or any of the super middleweight champions who want to move up, I'm here. I think all of those fights should make sense to the networks."

GL: The other day when we spoke briefly, you wanted to let it be known who is promoting Antonio Tarver so tell us. Who is promoting you?

AT: "I'm promoting Antonio Tarver. AT Entertainment. I want to go on record as saying that I am a promotional free agent right now and I'm willing to work with anyone. Star Boxing, Don King Productions, Golden Boy Promotions, we're willing to work with anyone if it makes sense. That gives me an opportunity to go out there and see what's really happening. I don't want to rule out working with any overseas promoter if it makes sense. I want to prove that I am a world champion and if that means going into someone's backyard to make a big fight over there so be it. It doesn't matter where you fight because you still have to fight the fight, but they would have to make it make sense to me. If we can put 25,000 people in the arena overseas, let's do it. Beating one of those guys over there in their hometown makes me a more recognizable star internationally."

GL: Is it safe to say that your next fight will take place against Chad Dawson if he's successful in making his mandatory?

AT: "Like I said, I still have reservations about a Chad Dawson fight. I just don't think it makes the type of sense. I don't think it's what they're trying to build it up to be. He needs a fighter like me, with my resume and my credentials to make them into a household name and bonafide star. I would be the one who's taking all the risk with little reward. Once he fights somebody of note, somebody that it recognizable in the game of boxing, then a fight like that would make sense. They're trying to make it into a super fight now but the dollars do not indicate that and I'm just trying to be a businessman about my business."

GL: What are your thoughts on the Calzaghe-Kessler super middleweight unification bout?

AT: "I think it's a great fight. Unfortunately it's happening on foreign soil but I want to fight the winner of that fight. I think me and the winner would make a for a real super fight if they want to come up to light heavyweight and try their luck. I'm the biggest name in this division and if I wasn't guys like Dawson wouldn't be calling my name. I've never turned down a fight that made sense and ain't nothing changed G. I would love the winner of that fight in Madison Square Garden."

GL: What are your thoughts on the Jones-Trinidad fight?

AT: "You can't knock it. You just have to take your hat off to the guys for coming together. Mind you it's a little late, but at the same time two names of that quality it makes sense and hopefully they get paid well for their time. If it's a good fight the winner and me would make for something big around the light heavyweight division. The loser would have to bow out gracefully.

GL: Is there any truth to the rumor that you could be signing with Gary Shaw?

AT: "I've never heard that rumor and I will say that that's totally incorrect."

GL: If you're going to be fighting before the end of the year, when can we expect a more solid update?

AT: "I know the business right now and it's a tough business. HBO has given up their dates for the rest of the year. I'm just weighing all of my options right now and looking at my career and I've come to the realization that I'm going to have to do something big to get back to the level of where I can command what's going to happen. I feel the networks are luke warm with me right now and I feel like they're making a tremendous mistake. Everytime I'm in this position where there's naysayers, that's when I'm at my best. I want to show the world that one bad night doesn't take away what I've accomplished and I believe that at age 38 I'm still getting better believe it or not. I'm learning and doing things in the gym and I think they're going to see a stronger jab and more powerful right hook and that's going to set up that devastating knockout power with the left. I can't wait to put it on display. They've always slept on me and I don't expect anything to be different now. I've never expected any favors and I've never gotten any. I've had to take everything I want and I'm going to continue to do so as a stand up guy and as a man."

GL: Buddy didn't work your corner for your last fight. Will he be working your corner for your next fight?

AT: "I love Buddy with all of my heart and he's a busy, busy trainer right now. Sometimes too busy. I wish that Buddy is successful with everything. I wish that we able to work together in harmony, but right now I'm in Tampa, Florida and I don't think it's necessary for me to have to travel to Vero Beach to training camp. I think that where I'm at in my career, I'm self-motivated and I can get all of the work I need to get done right here in Florida. I have a great gym. Caltas Fitness. This is the first gym I trained at when I first made the transition from Orlando to Tampa, it's always been home for me and I'm here. I'm actually pulling up to the gym right now and I don't see how going to Vero Beach will benefit me right now. I'm training in seclusion at home and I'm really comfortable right now."

GL: Who's going to be training you then?

AT: "Jimmy Williams, the guy who laid the foundation. I'm home and we've come full circle. There was a time when I stopped training with Jimmy and trained with Buddy, but God don't make no mistakes man. He's one of the biggest reasons that I'm here. My technique is back and that's all I can say. We're working on things that made me an Olympian and made me a great champion and those are the things we're going to focus on for the rest of my career."

GL: Do you think HBO has turned their back on you after the Hopkins fight?

AT: "I think they definitely have a different opinion of me, but I can't cry over spilled milk. I'm out to prove that they've made a tremendous mistake again. When you look at Gatti and Vargas and other fighters who have gotten knocked out and come back time and time again, so for them to treat me like an outcast, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm out to show the world that I'm still the best, the only way to do that is by peforming."


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