On Saturday, December 18, live from STAPLES Center, Antonio Tarver will face Glen Johnson in a 12 round championship bout that will determine, once and for all, who is the best 175-pound fighter in the world.Tarver-Johnson, which is presented by Star Boxing, in association with Goossen Tutor Promotions, will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 6pm ET / 9pm PT. A press conference to officially announce this matchup was held Tuesday at the STAPLES Center. Here’s what both warriors had to say:Antonio Tarver:
“I feel real good about December 18 for more than one reason. Yes, I did give up my WBC championship and, yes, Glen Johnson gave up his IBF title. But what I still have is The Ring Magazine championship so that makes me the official Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. I am also the People’s Champ.”
I have a lot of respect for Glen Johnson. When you look at his career, the guy has had a lot of bad decisions against him after he obviously won the fight. The political game of boxing has not been good for him, but you have to respect a guy who, no matter how rough it gets, he always seems to land on his feet.
I know what he is thinking. I see it in him. He is thinking that this is an opportunity of a lifetime. I just need to get past Antonio Tarver. My name will go down in the history of the sport. This is the opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime for some fighters. But in my mind I am taking this fight because I have always, always welcomed risk when it comes to boxing – risk in order to prove that I stand alone at the top. Very few fighters today take the risk that I take. Just look back on my career. After my first eight, nine or 10 fights, I would beg anybody in the top-10 to just face me. When I was the No. 1 contender across the board, the champion refused to fight me. I had to go into his backyard after he captured the world by winning the Heavyweight Championship. I told the world then as I said, ‘Roy, you might be standing tall today but we all know that you did not take a step in competition. Rather, you took a step down. You are avoiding your biggest challenge.’ I prophesized that when I asked him, ‘When am I going to get my chance at history?’ He said, ‘What history?’ I said, ‘The history I will earn after I knock you out.’ I told him that he was not even the best fighter in Florida. That came true.
Now I am telling the world that I am on a mission. My dream does not begin and end with Roy Jones. I see way past that. You are looking at history in the making. When it is all said and done, I want the world to recognize Antonio Tarver as one of the best – one of the greatest that ever lived. It starts December 18 at STAPLES Center. You know why? Cause I am fighting the second best light heavyweight in the world and we are going to get it on to see who is the ultimate champion. When you get two people who, in their hearts, feel that they are the best, that is trouble. I know it is going to be tough – he is not going to quit and I am not going to quit because I can see the end result. When my hand is raised, then they can bring on the next guy because I will continue to accept the challenges – the big challenges – and when it is all said and done, you will have to respect me as one of the best who ever did it. I am excited about December 18. I know that there are a lot of stars in Los Angeles, but on December 18, I will be the biggest star shining.”Glen Johnson:
“I will be ready for December 18. I have a lot of respect for Antonio Tarver. He is basically doing the same thing that I am doing in terms of giving up our titles to face each other. I have always said that I was willing to fight the best. Antonio Tarver says that he is the best. I guess we will go out and see who is the best on December 18 at STAPLES Center on HBO.”
“Antonio Tarver and I have no friendship. I have met him three times. We do not have a friendly relationship. As far as him being angry at me for beating Roy Jones and him possibly losing some money, that is his problem. He has to deal with that. If he thinks that he can deal with it through me, then bring it on because I am here to defend myself.”
“The big boxing public recognizes Antonio Tarver for his win over Roy Jones. They definitely recognize me too for my win over Roy Jones. People have an opinion as to who is the best fighter between us two so that is why he and I wanted to get it settled. It is going to happen on December 18 on HBO in California.”