The doors are locked and the windows are shuttered. No one is allowed to look in as boxing superstar Antonio Tarver prepared for the fight of his life. His opponent? Rocky Balboa. But even though Tarver’s acting debut as Mason “The Line” Dixon in the sixth Rocky film - entitled “Rocky Balboa” - sees him portraying a fictional heavyweight champion, “The Magic Man” believes that in this case, art may soon be imitating life.
“Mason Dixon is a very brash, very skillful heavyweight champion,” said Tarver, taking a break from a hectic filming schedule. “Unfortunately, he came along at a time when the heavyweight division is much like it is today, and people are remembering the great days when Rocky Balboa was on top. It must have been a fortune teller who wrote the script because that’s what we’re gunning for in the near future. Acting in this film gives me an opportunity to really feel what being the heavyweight champion of the world is all about.”
Promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing believes Tarver is a natural for Hollywood. “Boxing fans have known for years how charismatic Antonio is,” said DeGuardia. “Now the entire world will see ‘The Magic Man’ not only as a spectacular fighter, but as a true superstar.”
Now checking in at a solid 200 pounds, Tarver, the current light heavyweight champion, is enjoying his first foray into the world of filmmaking. “Believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities to getting ready for a fight,” said Tarver. “It’s just preparation. Working with a guy like Sylvester Stallone, he’s a perfectionist, he truly believes in this movie, and he wants the best. That’s why I’m here, to help him realize his vision.” Stallone, who is the writer, director, and star of Rocky Balboa, says, “Antonio Tarver is a spectacular fighter and a fantastic find who will bring the ultimate realism to this film. This is the only time in history where a reigning world champion is playing a reigning world champion.”
That experience has helped Tarver adjust to the acting life, and it also makes the fight scenes some of the most realistic ever committed to film. “We’ve been working a lot of long hours and I think the people are going to be surprised at how real this is,” said Tarver. “People won’t know the difference between a fight with me and Roy Jones Jr. and a fight with me and Rocky Balboa. The contact, the intensity, this is what’s going to sell this movie. When they say ‘lights, camera, action,’ this is going be a real fight.”
And once shooting wraps up for Tarver in mid-January, he’ll be back in the gym to get ready for his next great adventure in the ring. “I’m looking to go on to bigger and better things, and I’m going to be taking it to the next level,” said Tarver. “I think the heavyweight division is in dire need of CPR and I’m gonna be the breath of fresh air.”