Boxing

Antonio Tarver-Lateef Kayode Set For May 26th - A Risky Fight For The 43-year-old “Magic Man”

By James Slater: It’s official: Antonio Tarver will face unbeaten, highly touted contender Lateef Kayode on May 26th on Showtime (venue to be confirmed). At stake will be 43-year-old Tarver’s IBO cruiserweight belt.

Tarver, 29-6(20) breathed new life into his career with a 9th-round corner retirement win over Australia’s Danny Green back in July of last year, and “The Magic Man” says he is out to continue proving how age is “just a number.” Speaking recently with ESPN.com, the former light-heavyweight king said he’d like to defend his 200-pound belt a couple of times and then resume his heavyweight campaign (Tarver won his heavyweight debut in Oct. of 2010, winning a decision over Nagy Aguilera).

However, against the younger, fresher and possibly more powerful and hungrier Kayode, Tarver could see all his big plans go out the window. Having worked with Freddie Roach in compiling his 18-0(14) pro record, 29-year-old Nigerian-born Kayode, known as “Power,” has gained plenty of praise from the experts. A powerful puncher, with his right hand especially, whose skills have been refined by Roach, Kayode has beaten some decent men already.

Matt Godfrey was out-pointed over ten, as was Nicholas Iannuzzi, while Epifiano Mendoza and Jose Luis Herrera were both stopped. The May 26th fight (the same night Lucian Bute will defend his IBF 168-pound title against Carl Froch in England - will Showtime televise a doubleheader?) will certainly be a big step up in class for Kayode, but Tarver is at the stage where his age could catch up with him at any moment.

Will Tarver, a man who is no stranger to the really big fights, be sufficiently motivated for this one? Will Tarver’s weight changes affect him? Will Kayode lack the skills needed to compete with the classy southpaw?

Tarver is amazingly well preserved for his age and he is far from a shot fighter (Roy Jones Junior and James Toney he is not), and he has retained a lot of enthusiasm for the sport. At a time when he could be content calling fights for Showtime, he is instead willing to take on young and strong contenders like Kayode. And Tarver’s chin has never let him down before. Of course, most of Tarver’s fights took place down at 175. Still just 1-0(1) as a cruiser, Tarver could be in for his toughest test yet at the weight.

I smell upset in this one. I think Kayode will indeed prove too strong, too hungry and too determined for the man 14 years his senior. I go for Kayode via close decision.

Article posted on 11.03.2012



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