Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Antonio Tarver still thinks he deserves shot at top heavyweight

Fighters Network
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Last Friday, Antonio Tarver and Steve Cunningham fought to a 12-round draw at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Both fighters had their moments in a close fight. The official scorecards were 115-113 Cunningham, 115-114 Tarver and 114-114 even.

Looking back on the fight Tarver (31-6-1, 22 knockouts) felt he did enough to deserve the decision.

“I’m not satisfied with the draw,” Tarver told “But I don’t feel it’ll set me back at all. I dictated the pace and hurt him two, if not three times. He never hurt me. I thought my defense was key to a win. This draw may be a blessing in disguise. Some of the top heavyweights may now think I have some holes in my game.

“I wasn’t surprised at how tough and durable Steve Cunningham was in our fight. He did everything he could but he couldn’t hit me.”

Tarver, who turns 47 years old in November, realizes that at his advanced age he can’t do the things he once did, but still feels he has the know-how to succeed at the highest level.

“At this level, age is always a factor,” he explained. “My ring generalship, experience and punching power are carrying me. I’m savvy with cageyness in the ring. And I’m intelligent. I’m not naive. These are reasons I’m able to compete with guys much younger than me. If I was 40 I’d be wiping them out.”

Although the fight was fought at a slower pace the former unified light heavyweight champion refutes suggestions that he lacked energy down the stretch.

“No, I had energy at the end of the fight,” he said. “I won the championship rounds. I won the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th. How did one judge give Cunningham the 11th round? It was one of my most dominant rounds. I don’t understand.”

So does Tarver want a rematch?

“No. There is no reason for a rematch,” he continued. “I’m going right back in the gym. I need and deserve the biggest opportunity out there. I’m not getting any younger. People know I’m a champion and I’m ready to challenge the biggest names.

“I’m looking forward to what’s next for me, the biggest challenge there is, by getting stronger for my goal of becoming the oldest world heavyweight champion in boxing history.”

Tarver is ranked in the top 15 of only one of the sanctioning bodies and the draw likely won’t see that change, nor will it help him get a fight with RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko. However, “The Magic Man” still has the name cache and personality to get a big fight, perhaps even enough to persuade WBC titlist Deontay Wilder into facing him.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at