Antonio Tarver wants to be oldest heavyweight champ in history
Antonio Tarver has been down this road before.
Nov. 8, 2003, to be exact.
He was up against Roy Jones Jr. and considered a mere afterthought well before the bell rang. After all, Jones was arguably the best fighter on the planet at that time and was fresh off of becoming the first fighter to become a heavyweight champion after starting his career as a junior middleweight. Nobody thought much of Tarver, except for Tarver. He ended up pushing Jones to the limit in a hotly contested majority-decision loss but made up for it when he flattened Jones in a rematch six months later.
On Aug. 14, Tarver (31-6, 22 knockouts) plans on proving his doubters wrong again as he takes the next step in his march to become a heavyweight champion when he faces Steve Cunningham (28-7, 13 knockouts) on PBC on Spike TV at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
“It’s just like the Roy Jones situation all over again,” Tarver said to RingTV. “They’ve seen this moment before but they just have their eyes closed and not understanding what’s about to happen.”
The 46-year-old will be having his third fight after being suspended in 2012 when he tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone. Since his return, he has campaigned as a heavyweight and posted back-to-back victories against Mike Sheppard and Jonathon Banks with both wins coming by knockout.
Cunningham is next on Tarver’s hit list as he looks to secure a fight with Wladimir Klitschko and become the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history (George Foreman was 45 when he beat Michael Moorer).
Speaking with an excitement that is reflective of a boy opening a Christmas gift, Tarver says that he is tired of people overlooking his accomplishments and believes that winning the world heavyweight championship will silence all of his doubters.
“I love that I have this chip on my shoulder and it won’t stop until I beat that giant and cement my place in boxing lore,” Tarver said. “It is my mission to become heavyweight champion and surpass George Foreman. That’s how this story ends.”
But first, Tarver must get past a determined Steve “USS” Cunningham, who is seeking to right the ship after a controversial loss to Vyacheslav Glaskov back in March.
The two ended up in a war of words several weeks back when Cunningham took exception to Tarver suggesting that no other fighter has faced the struggles that he had when he was suspended. It is well documented that Cunningham has struggled to pay for the hospital bills for his 9-year-old daughter, who suffers from a heart defect and has fought for her survival every day since birth. But Tarver tells RingTV that he meant no harm in his statement and that it was simply taken the wrong way by his opponent.
“I don’t really know what happened but he was totally out of character,” Tarver explained. “But that just goes to show that he’s feeling the pressure of August 14th. It got to him and he lost control already. But I’m not surprised because he knows what’s coming at him.”
As for what Cunningham has to offer, Tarver shrugged off the notion that his opponent poses a major threat to him inside of the squared circle. “He’s got two hands and can only throw one at a time,” Tarver said with a laugh. “He’s not going to show me anything that I haven’t seen before. But I guarantee you he’ll see something he hasn’t seen before against me.
For Tarver, Cunningham is a mere speed bump on the quest for glory.
“I’m here to make history and Steve Cunningham just happens to be in the way,” he continued. “After that I want my shot at the title.”
Surely, Deontay Wilder would have something to say about Tarver getting a shot at Klitschko before he does. When asked if he would take on Wilder next, “The Magic Man” wasted no time responding with a confidence that he has been known to exude.
“He’s not experienced enough to beat me,” Tarver exclaimed while welcoming the challenge. “If Wilder is next, so be it. I’ll walk through his ass too!”
In the end, Tarver said that he’s in the best shape of his life at 46 and won’t rest until he has the heavyweight title in his grasp. He’s living life like it’s 2003 all over again and ready to turn back the clock.
“I’m Benjamin Button, baby!”