Antonio Tarver, known as the “Magic Man” and the first to knock out Roy Jones Jr., once again is attempting to create magic in the sport of boxing.
A former cruiserweight/light heavyweight champion and on-air personality for Showtime Sports, Tarver will join an experienced commentary team in Bellator MMA’s Jimmy Smith, “Sports Center” ex Dana Jacobson and “NFL RedZone” host Scott Hanson for “Premier Boxing Champions” on Spike TV. The card, which emanates from Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., will feature televised welterweight co-main events: Andre Berto vs. Josesito Lopez and Shawn Porter vs. Roberto Garcia.
“I have history with Showtime [boxing]. I did a lot of good work with them over the years,” Tarver told Sherdog.com in an exclusive interview. “I’ve worked with the late Nick Charles, Al Bernstein, guys like Steve Farhood, so I have the experience. This is a great opportunity for me to get back behind the mic, which everyone knows I miss so much. I have a lot of love and passion for the game of boxing. It makes me feel good when I can sit behind the desk and give my expertise on what I see unfolding.”
Spike’s entrance into the boxing world comes on the heels of the sport’s return to network television as NBC hosted a card on March 7 that drew mixed reviews from fans and pundits alike. In the main event, Keith Thurman and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero were praised for an exciting fight that saw Thurman run away with a lopsided judges’ nod, while the show’s opener featured a slow-paced bout between Adrien Broner and John Molina Jr. Broner outclassed his opponent from pillar to post, but seemed to not capitalize on opportunities to put his opponent away en route to a unanimous decision win.
Tarver praised Broner’s performance as technical and intelligent, but offered insight into what fans can expect on Friday’s Spike boxing lineup (9 p.m. ET):
“That’s the key, I don’t think winning will be good enough for these guys. I think they have to look good,” Tarver told Sherdog.com. “In order to set the stage for them to move on to bigger and better things. And that goes for all four of these fighters: Andre Berto, Josesito Lopez, Shawn Porter as well as Roberto Garcia. This is what you call four fighters at a crossroads right now. They’ve won some; lost some. But somebody needs an impressive win if they want to be in the top echelon of their division.”
Along with dreams of seeing the sport of boxing succeed on the strength of opportunities being provided by Al Haymon and his “Premier Boxing Champions” on multiple television networks, Tarver, 46, of Orlando, Fla., is still chasing glory of his own in the squared circle.
“I haven’t lost my skill. I haven’t lost my reflexes. I haven’t lost my timing. It’s mind-blogging when I’m in the gym. And I can still do the things I used to be able to do. It’s a blessing. That’s why I’m here at 46-years-old: to win the heavyweight title. I know my destiny. And I’m going to walk through my destiny. That’s why [God] preserved me so well. That’s why I haven’t had all that punishment and brutal beatings. That’s why I’m still here. I’m going at that heavyweight title. That’s the big picture that they don’t see coming. Remember that I told you so.”
Having put away heavyweights Johnathon Banks and Mike Sheppard recently, Tarver, 31-6 with 22 KOs, feels he is not far away from facing the division’s elite.
“If I get a shot at the heavyweight title, I’m winning. Period.” declared Tarver. “There isn’t any way around that. I’m beating Klitschko. I’m beating Wilder. Because that’s my destiny. I’m on the same track I was on when I told the world what I was going to do to Roy Jones. I’m not 46-years-old looking this good for nothing. I didn’t get preserved so well for nothing. I know my calling. I’m going to walk through my destiny. They are just in the way, so I’m going to do what I have to do. In the meantime, I’m going to shut that big mouth Shannon Briggs up. That’s what I want to do. And the way I beat him; the way I knock him out will be my ticket to the heavyweight title.”
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