Photos by Sumio Yamada
LOCOMOTIVES WILL COLLIDE: Tarver promises war against Green
Antonio Tarver, still seeking glory at 42, promises a big-hitting performance when he challenges Danny Green for the IBO cruiserweight belt in Sydney, Australia on July 20.
Speaking from his home in Tampa, FL, the former light-heavyweight champion gave an assurance that the Australian fans will see an exciting fight. Tarver respects Green but said he is not simply coming to win but also coming to do damage, no retreat and no backing down.
“He’s a good fighter,” Tarver said of the 38-year-old Green, “he’s won multiple titles in different weight classes and he’s a very, very tough guy and he has a lot of power. I know he’ll be trying to knock me out — something that’s never been done before — and vice versa, I’m going to try to knock him out, too, so I think with our personalities it’s like two locomotives heading on one course, we’re looking to collide, and that’s the type of fight that people are going to see.
“I know in the past I’ve been an elusive boxer-puncher, counter puncher, but, you know, I’m 42 years old now, so right now I feel like this: I’m too old to be running, I ain’t got time to be running around the ring and all that. I’m going to stand my ground; I’m going to punch with him. I know I’m an accurate sharpshooter. I’m looking to break him down to the body, hurt him to the body and really bust him up, that’s what I feel like can be done.
“I’m going to trust my defense, and if I get hit on the whiskers I’m going to trust my chin. I’ve got to open him up. I’m not going to be playing around. I mean, I’m going to his backyard and that puts me in a situation where, to me, it’s like I’ve got to do more. So, I’m going to fight.
“I’m getting in tremendous shape. I’m coming down nicely and we’re going to do it nice and slow and gradual.
“Danny wants to box now — he’s still aggressive, he still steps to you — but I think he knows better than to come out winging against me, I’m too good of a counter puncher and it will make it a short night for him because I don’t think he’s ever been whacked or cracked by a big puncher like myself. I’m still hitting hard and I’m looking precise with my punches. I’m going to let my hands go, and when I let my hands go, there’s not a problem. I’m not going to be tentative and all that stuff, I’m going to fight — and I’m going to take me a championship.”
Tarver was basically satisfied with his performance when, in his first bout in 17 months and weighing 221 pounds, he outpointed the heavyweight Nagy Aguilera last October. “Nagy brought some things to the table that I had to wary of — I’d never been in the ring with a guy that big,” Tarver said. “I felt that because of his weight I didn’t really come in in the best shape I wanted to be in, because I was so concerned about him coming in 230, 232. I had trained down to about 196 pounds and was in great shape but then I started putting on the weight — I wanted to eat more and really didn’t look after my conditioning like I thought I should have, but I felt more like I was comfortable being heavier. This time I don’t have to worry about that, I’m going to get in great shape, you’re going to see my muscles, you’re going to see me looking fabulously in shape and you’re going to see a different fighter. I’m going to let my hands go like I did in most of my best light-heavyweight fights, when I fought guys like Glen Johnson the second time. When I let my hands go and I’m standing there toe-to-toe, and boxing sort of like I did with Clinton Woods, I’m a hard guy to beat.”
Although he is 42, Tarver said he feels much the same as he did when he was the light-heavy champion and points to his old rival Bernard Hopkins as an example of what an older fighter can achieve. “I don’t feel any different,” he said. “I’m running three, four miles a day, and the strength and conditioning stuff I’m doing is unbelievable. Age is nothing but a number, Hopkins showed us that and I give Hopkins all the credit in the world. I don’t feel that I’ve really taken any beatings in the ring, I’ve taken care of myself pretty well, and that’s going to give me longevity.
“When I start to lose to fighters that I shouldn’t lose to and get hurt by fighters that back in the day couldn’t even lay a glove on me, then it’s time to do something else, and I’m making my transition, I’m commentating for Showtime and I have my own record label, but boxing is my passion. I still love the sport, I feel that on any given night I can still beat the best cruiserweight in the world, and so that’s what I’m going to prove — and I’m waiting to be called up to the heavyweight division. So that’s where I’m at, and Danny Green is in my way.”