Exclusive Interview: Antonio "The Magic Man" Tarver Part 2

By G. Leon


Exclusive Interview: Antonio "The Magic Man" Tarver Part 2

"Even though I knocked out Roy Jones Jr. in two rounds, I recognize that there's a lot of room for improvement and I will continiue to hone my skills. As a professional, I'm still young, I only have 24 pro fights, and when you gain experience as a professional you become a better professional. People can expect me to become a better fighter doing great things, things no one ever thought I was capable of doing, when I step through those ropes. I want to continue to set the mark higher and Roy Jones was just the start. For the next three years I want the world of boxing to jump on my back so I can take them to places we've never been before and heights unknown."

"I bring drama and excitement to everything. From the build up of the fight, at the press conferences and then in the ring. I am the kind of fighter that talks the talk and walks the walks, that's just who I am and that's who I'll continue to be. I'm not afraid of taking gigantic risks to succeed, and that's what boxing's been missing. It's become a game of politics and the when the HBO gets involved these guys begin to handpick opponents with no risk and all the reward. But I'd never do that because my goal is to become a hall of famer and a legendary fighter for my performances in the ring.

"Hopefully you'll see "The Magic Man" in full force this December. If it's not Roy Jones it will definitely someone credible and someone of note. I will continue to do the unbelievable, the things nobody else thinks I'm capable of doing...because that's what I'm about."

GL: You're currently in training not knowing what your next fight is going to be. On top of that, there's the personal situation you refereed to earlier. Has that held you back at all?

AT: "Not at all. I've been going through this matter for over two years and it hasn't held me back yet. I continued to reach for the stars and achieve. That shows you my mental strength. If anything, I'm able to deal with it and stay focus and determined. People try to hold you down and put you through unnecessary hardships, that's all the motivation I need. I went through my whole professional career under these kind of circumstances, but these are the things that let me know I had to be better than the rest. As long as I kept on winning, I knew nothing would hold me back. But no, that doesn't hold me back or hold me down at all, I'm using it as motivation that I can still overcome regardless of the hardship people around me have tried to put me under. When God is with you can't no man be against you, so we will prevail and overcome any obstacle that's put before us. We've done it thus far and we will continue to.

GL: How do you feel about Jones fighting Glen Johnson?

AT: "I personally feel that it's a slap in my face and the face of all real boxing fans around the world. How can the powers that be try so desperately to bring this guy back after I totally crushed him on May 15. They want the fans to believe in something they know is not the truth. Yes, Glen Johnson is the owner of a belt but he needs to thank God Antonio Tarver gave it to him. And he hasn't sent me a thank you card yet. If it wasn't me vacating that title before I fought Roy that title would be unavailable to Roy and Glen Johnson, it would be around the real champions waist. My waist. Whatever angle Roy Jones and the powers that be are attempting to take, God bless them. He can the IBF or any other belt, that doesn't mean anything to the boxing world. There's nothing he could do to gain any more added leverage when it comes for him to come sit down with the piper. No matter how many world titles he goes out and gets everyone knows that he's not even the best light heavyweight in Florida, let alone the world, I am."

GL: In the past you've made it perfectly clear that for a rubber match to take place it would have to happen under your terms of a 60-40 purse split. Have your terms changed any?

AT: "No my terms have not changed at all. There's a number that I've gone on record to you and stated, which is my blindfold number. That means I don't care what they do with all of the other money as long as my number is met. As long as that number is met I'm okay with that. And that blinfold number is $10M. Then I wouldn't care what they do about the delayed broadcast, the gate, the foreign, the merchandise or any of that other money. (laughs) As long as Antonio Tarver is taken care of, I don't care. Other than that it's going to have to be 60-40. And that's not just purse-split because there's so much money involved. 60-40 gross revenue split. It gets a little more complicated than that. I'm talking about co-promotion with 60-40 on everything if they don't want to come at me with my blindfold number."

GL: Are you basing this decision on principle kind of like Mosley did with De La Hoya?

AT: It's not priciple. It's business. Even if they give me a 60-40 purse split, Roy Jones Jr. would still make a lot more money than me with all of the other monies out there for the promoter of record. You need to know where the money is buried, so if there's going to be a split it's going to have to be a total split. I'm in the promotional business, I promote me, Antonio Tarver, in conjuction with Star Boxing. (laughing) I'm my promoter and the whole world knows that.

GL: No one is going to argue that Roy Jones Jr. needs to fight you to fully redeem himself as one of the world's best. However, are you willing to let the Jones fight go by the wayside if he's not willing to accept your terms, even if the rubber match under Roy's terms is still the most lucrative fight out there for you?

AT: The thing about it is, Roy Jones doesn't pay me. We know who the paymaster is over there. I don't ever have to speak to Roy Jones. If I'm comfortable with my number there's a fight, but someone is going to have to make sure that I'm comfortable with my number. And that somebody isn't Roy Jones Jr.

GL: That somebody would be HBO, who just so happens to be bringing Roy Jones Jr. back before your next fight has even been seriously discussed. How does that make you feel?

AT: "Business is business. Obviously Roy Jones Jr. is back on the belt line. They manufactured him and made him the superstar that he is and now they're trying to put humpty dumpty back together again. And the bottom line is they're putting him together again for me...to destroy him and knock him out once and for all.

GL: In the recent months, you and Bernard Hopkins have a done a lot of talking, pretty much exclusively on Boxingtalk, that created a buzz. If he takes care of business against De La Hoya on September 18, where does he rank among the fights you want to make?

AT: "It's definitely high on my list of things I want to do. I would love to be the fighter to retire Bernard Hopkins once and for all. I'd show the world how I could sprinkle a little bit of this magic dust on him and turn him into an old man overnight. But you know what? Everyone knows that he's blowing smoke and won't come anywhere near me in the boxing ring. He knows it's hazardous to his health and getting in there with Antonio Tarver will ruin his career. He's never been willing to step up as a champion, he never wants to take more than a minimal risk, so I don't see the man making the fight, but retiring him is something I'd love to do. The fight could truly be one for the ages, but the question is, will Bernard be champion enough to take a risk like this? If he is, he'll surprise me, but I'll be there waiting with open arms.

GL: Dan Goossen, James Toney's promoter recently told me that you're name is in the mix for James Toney, but you're basically dilly-dallying about making anything happen. What's your stance on a potential fight with James Toney?

AT: It only takes HBO to recognize me as the champion I am and pay me like the champion I am to eliminate all of these pretenders one by one. I will eliminate Jones, Hopkins, and Toney. I will put all three of them into retirement, all they need to do is pay me what I'm worth, pay me what the fight brings. If James Toney is not a moneymaker for Antonio Tarver, then he's not on my list. I've made the sacrifices to get to where I am today and now it's time for the powers that be to recognize it and show me the money.

GL: What are your thoughts on the Mike Tyson fight?

AT: "He fought bravely and gallantly for those first three rounds. He hurt his knee early into the fight. I don't know how much damage it did to him, but for three rounds he looked like the Mike of old. I was really excited about him getting back into the mix, but the rap on Mike is after three rounds he's unable to maintain his stamina or his condition. And if you look at a Mike Tyson fight you can see why. Mike Tyson is a brilliant fighter but he must start to think in the ring. He needs to realize that he can't go in there looking to blow everyone out. These are some build men and they're built to take punishment. But if Mike Tyson had a trainer who could teach him how to systematically break opponents down by utilizing the basic tools of boxing like the jab and counter punches, he'll know he doesn't have to go out there throwing caution to the wind. He needs to learn how to set his power up and hit them with the shots they don't see. He used to be a great boxer back in the day. He would throw lightning fast combinations and we saw a bit of that but he needs to try to out-think his opponents rather than out-fight them. I think that will not only add years to his career, it would put him right back into the championship picture. "

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

AT: I'd like to say to all the readers of Boxingtalk, Greg Leon's continuing to do his thing and these guys are continuing to prove that they are the best pound for pound boxing website in the world. Continue to read the mailbag and the site where all the news is dropping. What's up to my man fire! This is where you need to be to get the real...you will continue to see more of Antonio Tarver and I'm back in the gym so that's bad news for a whole lot of fighters out there.


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