Antonio Tarver: “I’m here to save the Heavyweight division”
J JosephHerron Updated
Tonight from the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, former universally recognized Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs) will lace up the gloves once again to take on perennial contender Johnathon Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs) in the co-main event of a special ESPN presentation of "Thursday Night Fights".
When the former 1996 Olympian was asked why he insisted on competing in the ring at age 46, the always candid Florida native seemed resolute in his response.
"Have you seen the Heavyweight division lately," answered the middle aged "Magic Man". "They need a savior...they need a savior. I'm here to save the Heavyweight division. On top of that, I plan on becoming the oldest man to win the Heavyweight Championship of the world."
"That's my goal. That's why I'm putting in all of the hard work. Not to mention, my son turned pro this year, and I want to show him how a champion prepares for battle."
Antonio Tarver Jr. made his successful pro debut in Hidalgo, Texas, on September 29, scoring an impressive TKO victory in the fourth stanza against Zachary Briones. Antonio Sr. believes that it's important to set a positive example for his 26 year old son.
"My son doesn't have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics, or become an international star in the amateur boxing world. He is a raw talent. So I have to show him how it's done. That's why I'm coming back."
In his first assignment since November of 2013, Antonio will be taking on a potentially dangerous assignment. According to most ringside observers, Banks is one of the more underrated and overlooked fighters within the Heavyweight division.
Although the Detroit, Michigan based contender has been inconsistent in recent efforts, Mason "The Line" Dixon has prepared himself for the very best version of the former Emanuel Steward protégé.
"Banks has shown flashes of brilliance in the ring throughout his career, even though he struggled in his most recent performance against Seth Mitchell. So I'm not cutting any corners or taking any chances. I'm expecting his best on fight night, and I'll be ready for whatever he brings to the ring."
While many are indeed wondering which version of Johnathon Banks will appear opposite the Magic Man on December 11, the great majority of the boxing world poses that same question about the 46 year old version of Antonio Tarver.
The proud former champion plans to remind the fight community what a great and crafty defensive fighter looks like.
"It's a lost art," states Antonio Tarver. "The art of hit and not get hit. There are very few trainers who can teach what I already know. There are many great punchers in the boxing world today, but they really don't know anything about defense. They're not equipped to make their opponents miss when they get into punching range."
"Fighting at this level is all about defense. It's about scoring off of your defense. It's all about fighting at angles and using upper body and head movement. There's nobody really teaching proper defense anymore, except for Antonio Tarver."
"I'm the only one teaching it. That's why I'm still doing this. So I can show my son how it's done. You've never seen me stretched out on the canvas, and you're not going to. You've never even seen me hurt in a prizefight. I'm the best defensive fighter in the game, period."
"I've never been cut...I've never been scratched. I don't have to fight behind a shoulder roll either. And I stand on that. Going up to the Heavyweight division, people are going to see why I am a great fighter."
"You're going to see Antonio Tarver like you've never seen before. I'm here to put the world on notice that the magic still exists, baby...the magic still exists!!