Justin Hackman: What’s going on in the life of The Magic Man these days? Antonio Tarver: Everything is good Justin, it’s real good. My management company is off the ground and running. I’m of course managing my son, Antonio Jr (6-0, 4 KOs), who just looked solid in his most recent fight. Hopefully we can keep him busy. For him to jump from four to eight rounds and beat a more seasoned fighter is a testament to his ability. I’m excited to see my son thrive; it means so much. Being involved in a young career is exciting for me because I get to live it all over again, but from a different perspective now. Let the magic continue! (laughs)
JH: What is it that makes you want to continue in the boxing world as a trainer after such a great, fulfilling career as a fighter?
AT: I have a tremendous love for people, man. It’s such a great feeling to give back to the sport I love. Through the sport of boxing, I can really help people in a way that I otherwise couldn’t have. I just love people man, I always have. I’ll always have time for people that have time for me.
JH: The great trainers all have a way of transcending coaching in becoming a father figure of sorts to their fighters. I believe your personality lends itself well to that sort of role.
AT: Thank you, man I appreciate it. You gotta pass it on, because I’ve learned from the best. [My trainers were Hall of Famer] Buddy McGirt, Jimmy Williams, Orlando Cuellar, among others. If you have knowledge, you can’t be selfish with it. These men have inspired me to take the same love they showed me and channel that now through my efforts now as a trainer, mentor and father figure.
JH: You mention Buddy McGirt, I know he had you for your fight with Bernard Hopkins [which Hopkins won by decision in 2006]. You were coming down in weight, a major depletion, and Hopkins at that point was looking like he was nearing the end of his career, and yet on fight night, he surprised a lot of people. Take me through what happened that night.
AT: First off, Bernard Hopkins is a legend in this sport; he’s a truly amazing fighter. Simultaneously though, it happened to be the worst night of my career by far. If Roy Jones wasn’t able to consistently land on me, how am I going to be hit by Hopkins’ right hands all night? I saw his punches coming and I could do nothing to get out of the way. He fought a fantastic fight; this is in no way meant to detract from him as a fighter. But that just wasn’t me that night, plain and simple. I desperately wanted a rematch to show the kind of fight that I’m capable of against a guy like him. But they took my status that night. They ran with it and didn’t give me the courtesy of a rematch.
JH: Switching gears to 2004- your second fight against Roy Jones Jr. now [Tarver won two of three vs. Jones] —you land one of the most significant single shots in boxing history. Try to explain what you were feeling in that moment.
AT: Well let me answer that by backing up a little bit. Roy inspired me to be a professional boxer in the first place. We fought at 13 years old in the amateurs and we had a nice rivalry going. We were neck-and-neck in the amateurs [Jones was a 1999 Olympian, Tarver a 1996 Olympian, both won medals]. After my amateur career was done, I had my own issues going on, I wasn’t even thinking about boxing. But I saw Roy Jones Jr doing his thing, and that inspired me to be a professional fighter. I wouldn’t even have been a boxer had it not been for Roy. Here was a guy succeeding, and I knew I could chase him down and get him in that ring. So when I landed that punch, it was a sweet feeling to say the least. And that moment represented all the hard work I put in on the path to boxing greatness.
JH: Thoughts in closing, Antonio?
AT: Thank you, Justin for the interview, and to all my fans, follow me on social media @AntonioTarver and I’d also like to acknowledge my podcast, In The Ring with Tarver and (Allan) Jones that you can find on VoiceItRadio.com.
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