Antonio Tarver Makes Ring Return Friday as Heavyweight

By John G. Thompson: Gary Shaw Promotions is putting on a full card on Friday, October 15th at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, some of which will be televised live on ShowBox: The New Generation. In the main event former light heavyweight champion Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver 27-6 (19 KO’s) makes his ring return after almost a year and half, this time in the heavyweight division against Nagy Aguilera 16-4 (11 KO’s). Also, Shawn “Showtime” Porter 16-0 (12 KO’s) makes his first attempt at a welterweight title as he takes on Hector Munoz 18-3-1 (11 KO’s).

Once Tarver gains a win over the natural heavyweight Aguilera, who once knocked out former champion Oleg Maskaev in the first round, the fans should gain some insight into where Tarver fits in the heavyweight picture. And though Aguilera is no world beater, having lost two of his last three bouts (including a second round knockout loss to Samuel Peter), this fight should at least shake off some of the ring rust for Tarver, who has not fought since his second loss to then undefeated IBF & IBO Champion Chad Dawson back in May of 2009 (Tarver’s only fight of ’09).

I personally did not care much for Tarver when he began as a ringside commentator on Showtime some years back, however, he has been steadily improving. He stopped quoting the kind of generic lines which would fit in an EA video game and has started speaking with the insight of a former world champion. Tarver could easily remain a fixture of Showtime boxing outside the ring; however, citing the current lack of American talent in the heavyweight division, the former Olympic Bronze Medalist has decided to take one last chance at glory.

Though Tarver was always a large man at light heavyweight, at 6’2” he is nowhere near the size of the current Ukrainian champions who stand about 6’7”, and the chance of forty-one year old Tarver one day challenging either Klitschko brother seems unlikely. Tarver stated that, “If I can put a dent in those big boys, I’ll be the next heavyweight champion.” So we’ll see if he can put a dent in Aguilera. The “Magic Man” will probably win this one, though should he fail to impress against someone of Aguilera's level, Tarver may well re-retire and stick to broadcasting.

It is a little unclear what Hector Munoz has done to deserve a shot at a title in the undercard, having lost his only bout in 2010 to Mike Jones. Munoz did not fight at all in 2009, and split a loss, a draw and a win in 2008. He had no fights in 2007. Also going against him, Munoz has been stopped three times. In sharp contrast, this is undefeated Shawn Porter’s fifth bout of 2010, and he fought nine times in 2009. The slick, undefeated power puncher should have no trouble bringing the NABF Welterweight Title back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

Also in action, former WBO Light Welterweight Champion Kendall Holt 25-4 (13 KO’s) will look to make an impressive comeback statement against Octavio Narvaez 7-9-1 (4 KO’s). Kendall Holt is coming off two straight losses - to current undefeated champion Timothy Bradley and surprisingly to Kaizer Mabuza in a title eliminator. Holt should not have too many problems against Narvaez, however, who is coming off six straight losses and has not won a bout since 2006.

Anthony Dirrell 19-0 (16 KO’s), the younger brother of Andre Dirrell, will be taking his second fight in just over a month against Daryl Salmon 16-5 (4 KO's), who has lost his last five fights (four by stoppage). Exciting cruiserweight Lateef Kayode 13-0 (12 KO’s) takes a step up in class as he faces the experienced Epifanio Mendoza 30-9-1 (26 KO’s). And Ronald Hearns 25-1 (19 KO’s), son of boxing legend Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, continues in his path towards redemption since his career derailing loss to Harry Joe Yorgey back in March of last year. He’ll be facing Robert Kliewer 10-11-2 (5 KO’s) of Minnesota, who has only won one fight in his last eight (including stoppage losses to Shawn Porter and Anthony Dirrell).

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Article posted on 12.10.2010

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