Antonio Tarver: "When it's all said and done I want to be known as the greatest light heavyweight of all time!

By G. Leon


Antonio Tarver: "When it's all said and done I want to be known as the greatest light heavyweight of all time!

GL: It's been quite a while since we've had you on BoxingTalk, what's the latest and greatest with Antonio Tarver? "Basically I've been hard at work. I'm just trying to fine tune it and come back with a different approach and a different attitude. We did the Hollywood thing and we did the move and right now it's time for me to give back to the sport of boxing. The sport has given me so much and this is what the final chapter of my career is all about."

"This fight is the begining of my exit. I want to go out, but I want to go out in a way that people will be talking about me as the best light heavyweight ever. The way I'm going to do that is take one fight at a time and make every fight more important than the next and it will be clear to see. That's my goal and I'm at my best when I set goals and take it one fight at a time to achieve those goals. I've got my work cut out for me, this is my hall of fame run and I'm going to show people that I'm focused and determined.

"I'm newly married and it's a beautiful thing. I've just grown so much in the last year that I'm to the point that it's strictly business. I understand the blessings that I have, the opportunities that I have and I know what's before me. As a man I accept that forever and every time I step in the ring I will be at my best. I will show people why I feel I'm a step above the rest and what sets me apart from everyone else. I'm going to show them.

"I've had some great nights in boxing, some memorable unforgettable nights, but in my heart I still feel in my heart that I haven't given the people the best of Antonio Tarver.If for no other reason, sometime it don't all come together and there are things outside of boxing that might have an effect on a person, but my talent, my natural God-given ability and talent, I don't think the people have really had the chance to see that and embrace that. Then they'll know why I've been as confident as I have been over the years. God has given me something special and unique and it's time for me to show the world what that gift is."

"Just look at me, I'm 38 years old and there's no signs of that when you look at me. I know the work ethic that I put into the ring, I'm youthful. I don't know how long I got in the game but I give myself a window of two or three years for me to accomplish everything that I set out to accomplish. If he preserves me and keeps me young who knows? It could be another Archie Moore run. There's no other fighter who has had the fights I have and come out unscathed. There's a big picture out there for me and I can't really speak on it because otherwise people will think I'm full of shit. They'll think like they always thought when I told them about things that would happen a long time ago that came to fruition.

"When I read the internet, people still feel that I'm a one hit wonder so to speak, but I've been on top of the game for as long as I can remember. Some people just don't get their credit or just due until they're long gone. I've given a lot to boxing and it's time to give them something more, something special. This last journey is about stamping my ticket to the hall of fame and earning the respect of my peers and all of the great fighters who have come before me. Those are the people I want to appreciate me."

GL: Some of the greats before you fought on National Network TV, you're about to make your ABC debut against Elvir Muriqi on April 22. People are viewing this fight as a tune-up, tell us what we can expect to see on April 22?

Antonio Tarver: "I think he's going to be a good challenger. We're going to know where we're at after this fight. I don't ever consider anybody a tune-up fight. I've been there in Muriqi's shoes where you have one chance and one shot to make it or break it. I know what kind of dedication and commitment he's going to bring to this fight. He's fighting me, one of the biggest names in boxing. A victory over me would give him the chance to make more money and put him on the map. We fight for money, fame and more money. I can't take this guy lightly, I can't take anybody lightly because you're only as good as your last fight and in my last fight I wasn't too great. I got to erase that vision and erase the memory from people's minds. I'm looking to come into this fight and be as sharp as ever, be as confident as ever and let it all hang out to let the people see what makes me really special.

"In doing so I am preparing for a tough gritty fight against an aggressive fighter who has a punch. I've got to knock him out because there's no quit in him. That's the type of fight where I'm at my best and this fight will bring excitement. If you can't be in Atlantic City on April 22 make sure you watch it live on ABC, network TV. Make sure you got your wire hangers and aluminum foil ready because everybody could see it and it won't cost you nothing so sit back and relax."

GL: Can we expect to see you go after the best available names out there for you after April 22?

AT: "The best available name is Antonio Tarver. We're not going to look for nothing. I know where I'm at and we're going to go with the ebst fight that makes the most sense. I don't have anything left to prove to the politicians of boxing. I'm co-promoting this fight with Joe DeGuardia, AT Entertainment Inc. I'm not trying to run out and sign no boxers, but when I fight that's who the lead promoter is. (laughs) I got nothing to do with nobody else, but when I fight it's AT Entertainment in association with."

GL: One of your good friends Winky Wright will be fighting Bernard Hopkins on HBO PPV on July 21?

AT: "May the best man win. I don't really have an opinion one way or the other, I'm focused on my fight."

GL: Does a shot at redemption with Hopkins still top your things to do list?

AT: "I'm not looking for no redemption. I don't need no redemption. Redemption from what? One loss. If it ever gets made again it would be a great fight. I'm going to do my part to make sure I'm there for the fight if he wants to fight, but I'm not chasing nobody Greg, I don't have to."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

AT: "I know what's at stake right now and we're doing everything correctly. After this fight the key to this whole thing is, I'm going to stay in shape and there will be no more long layoffs until this is all over with. People can look forward to seeing the best Antonio Tarver every time out. You're going to see a more consistent, a more focused and a hungrier Antonio Tarver than ever before. I can't take no more two or three month breaks from the gym. I'm going to stay in shape because this is for my legacy. A lot of people are always screaming legacy but they don't have one. This is the last run of my career and when it's all over I want to be known as the best light heavyweight to ever have done it."


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