Tuesday, January 31, 2023  |



Antonio Tarver unconcerned about ring inactivity


Former RING light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver will be ending 13-month ring absence against heavyweight Johnathon Banks on Thursday but the southpaw isn’t concerned about his time away at all.

“I’m not concerned with rust,” said Tarver, 46. “If I’m rusty, it will only be until I’m hit.”

Tarver (30-6, 21 knockouts) will meet Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs) on an undercard headlined by junior middleweight Austin Trout (27-2, 14 knockouts) against Luis Grajeda (18-3-2, 14 KOs) at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. on Dec. 11.

The event is being promoted by Goossen Promotions in honor of the late promoter, Dan Goossen, who died in September at the age of 64 of complications from liver cancer, and broadcast on ESPN2.

Another bout features 175-pound Marcus Browne opposite George Blades, the latter of whom is a late replacement for the injured Henry Buchanan, according to a report by ESPN.com. Also, Oscar Escandon takes on Tyson Cave in a junior featherweight battle.

A 1996 Olympic bronze medalist, Tarver returned to training after having suffered a fractured thumb on his left hand that forced him to pull out of a Sept. 29 bout against Banks.

“I’ve been trying to wear off ring rust with intelligent sparring,” said Tarver, whose most recent fight was a fourth-round stoppage of Mike Sheppard in November of last year that ended a 17-month ring absence. “But that’s not like getting reps of a fight. I have to beat a solid heavyweight with power like Banks to get where I want to be.”

Best known for winning two of three bouts against Roy Jones Jr., Tarver won their second meeting by second-round stoppage victory in May of 2004. Tarver also owns wins over ex-light heavyweight titleholders such as Glen Johnson, Clinton Woods and Montell Griffin.

Banks, 32, split his past two bouts with Seth Mitchell, winning by second-round stoppage in November 2012 to extend his winning streak to 9-0-1 with five knockouts before falling by unanimous decision in their rematch in June 2013.

A Detroit native, Banks is the trainer of RING heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and was formerly advised and trained by the late Emanuel Steward, to whom he served as an assistant.

Tarver said his goal is to surpass George Foreman, who was 45 when his 10th-round knockout of Michael Moorer made him the oldest man to win a heavyweight title in November 1994.

“I will become the oldest world heavyweight champion in boxing history,” said Tarver. “He will be surprised by a lot of what I bring into the ring.”


Note: Quotes from a release