29.09.05 – Antonio Tarver: For all you fans that don’t have tickets, you’re running out of time. I don’t know if any are available or not, but, check ticketmaster. This fight means everything for Florida, you know. With Roy, we have history, ever since thirteen years old we’ve been competing, and, you, know we’ve soared above the rest, you know but we need to find out—who era is this? We need to find out who’s the best fighter ever to come from Florida. So, you know, the winner on October 1st will have those bragging rights, regardless of how you want to manufacture the guy and make him, you know, supreme to all. I mean, I made a quote the other day and I really belie—mean this with all my heart. If it was Sugar Ray Leonard, if it was Marvin Hagler, the great Thomas Hearn that was the light heavy weight champion when I came up, the same thing would be true. The guy just happened to be Roy Jones Jr. It’s not my fault. But I gotta take care of my business. And uh, that’s all I want the world to understand, that when I was a child, I had aspirations and goals, and they didn’t stop at Roy Jones Jr. They went far beyond..
Reporter:: first time was obviously a decision, second one, a second round knockout, what do you expect this time?
Tarver: I expect a victory. That’s what we train hard for, no matter what the media says, no matter what the experts may say, we’re not taking this guy lightly. Now, if any of you was fortune enough to see this little shake-loose, you can contest to that. I’m ready, I’m hungry, and the fire still burns, so, I’m expecting an electrifying night.
Reporter: what’s it been like being at home? Distractions? Everything cool as far as—
Tarver: I’m a professional, so I won’t let that happen. There’s been no distractions. This is part of the business, you know, this is a big fight. We gotta let the people know, we have to reach them, and uh, so they can get involved, so the fans can be a part of something truly, truly great. And uh, this is what this is all about. It’s happening in my adopted home, Tampa, which I love truly and I’ve gotten all the support a man could ask for so I want to give back. I want to give back to the fans. I want to show them what all the talk is about. They’ll get to see it for themselves, against what is noted as one of the best fighters to ever don the ring. So when you do the comparison, when it’s all said and done, there’s no excuses. I want to make sure that I’m compared. When I’m compared, there’s no comparison.
Reporter: Physically, is this right where you want to be as the fight approaches?
Tarver: This is the best training camp we’ve ever had. I’m the best fighter today that you’ve ever seen. And uh, we’ve trained for Goliath, anything less than that, somebody’s ass is in trouble.
Reporter: how much are you looking forward to fighting at home, in front of such a big crowd
Tarver: You know what? Fans are fans. I mean, It’s gunna be great just to have the people, the locals, be able to say that they witnessed it for themselves. But other than that, it’s a big fight, and so Tampa should get excited about it. It’s the Superbowl of boxing, and that’s what it is you know. You look at two guys that have gone on to achieve great things as far as Olympics, medals, we both got robbed, and then we went on to great professional careers, you know. This is the pinnacle, you know. But the roles have been reversed, I must add. You know, once upon a time, he was that guy, that king lion on top. Now I’m that king lion and he’s trying to knock me off. So I’m gunna defend my turf and my territory, and my territory is Tampa, Florida.
Reporter: have you talked to jeff about the environment, and how different it is fighting in your hometown, as opposed to being on the road
Tarver: When you’ve had the vast amateur experience as I’ve had and traveled the world in guys’ country ..I’ve fought right here in Atlanta, at home, you know, during the olympics I mean, it’s great, you know. I’m here to tell you, that don’t be surprised if, you know, Roy Jones has a great, great crowd that shows up to support him, because this very well could be his last sighting.
Reporter: you were talking about role reversal. What was it like last time you fought here, when you were on the undercard for Roy Jones main event?
Tarver: You know what? It was a great fight. I had just come off a loss with Eric Harding. I think I stole a little bit of the thunder because I had a devastating knockout that night. There’s very few fighters that have come back from defeat to fight a guy that at that time was 17-0, with 14 knockouts, being labeled as a killer. But I stepped up. I wanted to show the world that, you know, it’s about the man within. And I knocked the guy out, in a dramatic fashion. And then I remember running down the hall saying “Where are you Roy Jones? It’s my time, baby!” But, you know, it fell on deaf ears. But you know, like I said, it’s been great the way we’ve come together. We’ve given boxing some of the most memorable nights. And who will ever forget, you know, the moment before, after Jay Nady asked if I had any questions: Are there any excuses tonight, Roy?
Reporter: do you have any plans this time?”
Tarver: You gotta be there, and you gotta buy Pay-per-view in order to see that. I can’t let that out the hatch. But remember, I’m the magic man, so anything’s possible.
Tarver: Roy Jones has everything to prove Saturday night. I have proven to be the best. It’s up to him to knock me off my throne.
Reporter: …What other areas do you plan to exploit, if there are any other weaknesses in Jones’s technique?
Well, you know what? Buddy McGirtis is one of the best trainers in the business, and you know, we’re not going to be foolish enough to think we can walk in here and throw a left hand and knock this guy out. That would be benign almost. We train hard. We’re in great shape. We gunna break this guy down if it takes that. Dig hard to the body. We worked on my right hand to set up the power. I mean, you’re gunna look at a complete fighter Saturday night. From A-Z.
Reporter: Do you think that the two consecutive KOs have affected Jones, and will a knockout occur Saturday night?
Tarver: We’ll see. That’s to be determined. You know, but I’m not gunna go in here thinking that ‘ok, this guy is susceptible to a knockout’. I gotta go get my work done.
Tarver: We’ll see. I don’t know what to expect Saturday night. But expect the best—from me. And whatever Roy Jones shows up, you know, that’ll be just, you know, hopefully he’s the best Roy Jones because if he is, I trained for the best Roy Jones, and if he is, it will be an unbelievable night of fully, I mean, action-packed boxing. And uh, you know, that’s what the fans pay their money for.
Reporter: as far as the being for the, what IBO championship is it?
Tarver: This is for the world recognizable light heavyweight champion of the world, universally recognized. You know, the ring championship and you know, everybody’s champion. I am the people’s champion, right here from Tampa, Florida. So I represent the masses.
Reporter: does it matter that the all four sanctioning bodies don’t recognize it? Does it matter at all?
Tarver: They’re the only four that’s not. Because the whole world will be watching, including the sanctioning bodies.
Reporter: Do you think enough is being done for boxing safety?
Tarver: My heart goes out to [Holyfield’s] family and all the people that have unfortunately passed away in this tough sport of boxing. You know, you just gotta, just stay on the ground and you know, because every time you step in that ring there’s a chance of that. And that’s the reality of the sport. That’s why people need to understand what we go through. It’s a major, major sacrifice. If the contenders didn’t open up some people’s eyes to why we do what we do, you know, so that we should be respected more. I think the sport of boxing right now is in a revitalizing state, but it is revitalizing. You know, just as if we have to rebuild New Orleans. And my heart goes out to all the people that was—have lost in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. You know, we have to rebuild boxing, and so people can truly love the great sport that it is. The legacy goes, you know, as long as we can remember. So you know, and it will be here for the end of time. But my heart goes out for those that are lost.
Reporter: Do you think you’re more of a natural light heavyweight than Roy Jones is, in terms of this being your prime weight?
Well you know, I’ve been a light heavyweight for about as long as my amateur boxing career so you know, I’m naturally here. But people wonder, how have I been able to maintain the weight? You know, a lot of people, they get lazy and they don’t want to work as hard anymore to make the weight. You know, it’s hard for—it’s a hard sport. I must admit, but you know, that’s why I get up the morning, because I truly challenge myself. My team has challenged me and, you know, you’re going to see the results of hard work Saturday night
Reporter: You think Roy is more a natural middleweight?
It’s not about Roy Jones Jr. anymore, sir. It’s the Antonio Tarver hour, baby. You know what I mean. I don’t want to hear anymore questions about him. It don’t matter what he do. After October 1st, he’ll be an afterthought. Okay? So let him linger in your memory. But I’m looking, I’m looking to destroy whatever shows up Saturday. It’s Antonio Tarver Time. I am the champion. The people’s champ
Reporter: Talk a little bit about this week Antonio. What’s your routine? Any superstitions?
Tarver: No superstitions. You know, my God is Jesus Christ. There’s no superstitions. I’m prayed up. I’m anoint from head to toe, and I’m gunna let his blessings, you know, take place on Saturday night. Its not superstitious, I believe in God.
Reporter: What do you do to avoid I dunno, peaking too early?
Tarver: No, we’re not pea—we’re ready.
Reporter: But what do you do to avoid that?
Tarver: For the first time in camp we’ve tapered down. Two weeks. Two weeks, we’ve been tapering down, doing what you saw today, just relaxing a lot of rest, I mean, drinkin a lot of water, haven’t missed a meal, we’re ready. We’re prepared 110%. No excuses from team Tarver.
Reporter: What do you think of the press conferences tomorrow, having them separate, I mean, do you like that? Does it matter to you?
Tarver: You know what? He could see me now or he could see me later, but rest assured, he’ll have to see me. You could run, but you can’t hide, baby. So we’re gunna let him have his little bit of confortability right now, during the press conference. You know what? So be it. But on October 1st, he won’t have no where to run. He’s gunna meet the man, face-to-face. And all those fears that he’s been hiding up until now will come out, and will be evident.
Reporter: So he wanted the separate conferences?
Tarver: I can’t think for him. But all I said, I’m gunna let him have his little bit of comfortability, but all that comfort will be gone when we touch gloves.
Antonio, anything different you’ve done than the previous fights you’ve trained for?
I’ve worked harder, I’ve worked longer.
Reporter: As a trainer, you were obviously involved in the Gotti/Ward trilogy. Are there any comparisons in terms of how you make adjustments for an opponent three times? Is there any way you can compare the two trilogies?
Yeah, what you do is like, in a way it is because Mickey Wards said that was going to be his last fight so we knew he was going to give it his all and I know that this’ll be Roy’s last fight and I know Roy’s gunna give it his all. But I just feel that, at this point, Antonio is the better fighter. So, you know what I mean, Roy is going to put up a much better fight. I think he’s going to fight a more tactical fight, a more defensive fight. For his father, tactics are very defensive, you know what I mean? So his father’s thing is for every offensive move, you gotta make a defensive move at the same time. I mean, that’s what he does. So, the key is to capitalize on it. And I think that once Roy sees that Antonio’s gunna capitalize on it, or once he starts capitalizing on it, then we’ll see what he does then.
Reporter: What about the perceived advantage making weight that Antonio has, the fact that Roy had to come down from heavyweight
For the first fight with Roy, Antonio came to camp at 215-220. The second fight with Roy, same thing. So, I’m not a believer that it was the weight, I just think that, you know, in certain sports there’s always a team that has your number. Always. I mean you could take in the 0-13 Chicago Bears against the 13-0 Greenbay Packers, it’s gunna be a great game. You know what I mean? It’s gunna be a great game. So, Roy Jones and Antonio Tarver, that’s how I view it. I mean, Antonio has his number and it’s always gunna be a great fight.
Reporter: He’s always going to have his number?
Yes, exactly. No matter what he’s always going to have his number. It might be tough, but you know he’s got his number at the bottom—you know at the end of the night.
Reporter: Antonio has more of an edge about him than he usually does. He usually answers questions forever and he cut it short today. Is this a sign?
I’ll put it to you like this. I’m riding in separate cars with him everyday.
Reporter: Has there been a noticeable change attitude wise?
He’s very, he’s ready to fight, number one, and he’s very upset about a statement Mr. George Foreman made on TV the other night. And he’s out to prove, you know, his thing was, buddy, you know, that’s what’s wrong with boxing. You know, Foreman said on TV the other night that all Roy Jones has to do is stay away from Troy Browns and he’ll get a decision. You know, Antonio said that was an insult to him. You know what I mean? So he’s out now to, to, it’s just adding wood to the fire basically. And so, he’s very upset about that and he’s just, you know, I mean Roy is playing all these games, you know, he don’t want to have the same press conference, he’s trying to get a separate weigh in, he’s not doing nothing to help promote the fight, you know what I mean? It’s always been that way. And Antonio’s like ‘Look, what do I gotta do?’ So I said ‘Look, man, You gotta handle your business, and the rest will fall into place.’
Reporter: what do you make of al this, Roy not wanting to be in the same room as Antonio thing?
I think, it’s only gunna be one of two things. One he’s trying to play mind games. Or two, there’s sometimes you know, when you’re a kid and you get in trouble in school and your mother gets you on the phone and she says ‘I’m gunna kick you ass when you get home.’ And you just don’t want to go home. You hope the bus breaks down or something because you know, you know when you get home, you’re gunna get your ass whooped, you know what I mean? And I just think that Roy can not be in the same room with Antonio because no matter what he does, Antonio has an answer for him.
Reporter: you said it’s one of two things. You think it’s the second one?
No, No. I’m not going to say that. I’m just saying, it’s one of two things. You know what I mean? That’s the only thing it could be if you really think about it. You know what I mean? Why else wouldn’t you want to be in the same room with somebody? Okay, you had two tough fights but, I mean, if you could get Ali and Frazier in the same room, you should be able to get anybody in the same room.
Reporter: where does Tarver rate as far as guys you’ve seen over the years when it comes to trash talking, getting under an opponents skin, I know Ali patented it and was the best, but I’ve heard people say, they think Antonio might be the best since Ali…
Because Tarver speaks the truth! You know, Ali was just building the gate. You know. Antonio is telling you how he really feels. There’s a difference. You know Ali was the best at it, you know what I mean. Ali knew had to get under your skin, I mean, but Ali was doing this, you know, to put asses in the seats. Antonio’s doing it cause that’s how he really feels. He’s not trash talking. That’s how he really feels.
Reporter: when he said ‘no excuses tonight, roy?’ how surprised were you?
In the press room before the fight, he said ‘Buddy, don’t put my mouthpiece in until after the referees instructions.’ So I said to myself ‘what the hell is he gunna do?’ I’m like ‘Why?’ He said ‘Just wait and see.’ So during the introductions I was still trying to stick the mouthpiece in his mouth, and he was like ‘I don’t want it. Wait until after the referee gives the instructions.’ So I just put my head down. I didn’t know what to expect. And when he did that I was like ‘Oh my God.’ And I looked up at Roy’s face and it’s like all the fight left him right there.
Reporter: so you think it actually had an effect?
Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely. You know Roy, look, I like Roy, respect Roy, you know, I mean I’m friends with Roy and I’ve been to his house, you know what I mean he’s treated me like family, but Antonio’s got, he’s got Roy’s number. And I think that Roy just don’t want to admit it.
Reporter: You ever recall an instance where a fighter, Frazier still talks about the effect Ali had on him, all the trash talking, do you recall a fighter able to just almost dominate somebody with words?
I mean, I haven’t seen anyone do it since, since Ali. Really, I mean, Ray Leonard had a way of doing things, but it was different, you know? Antonio, know what I mean, just has this thing that, you know, he’s not been accepted for everything that he’s done and every time he wins a fight or whatever there’s always something that…if he goes from three pegs, it knocks him down a peg and half. You know what I mean? And so, he’s like ‘Buddy, what do I have to do?’ I said, ‘Look, man. Just keep on winning. I mean, when it’s all over, then tyey will appreciate you.’ I mean, I told Antonio when I first started training him, I says, You know, in this game, some guys get it easy, some guys get it hard. Unfortunately, you fall in the class of the guys that’s gunna get it hard. But that can help you in the long run, cause you’ll appreciate it more. You’ll understand what you had to go through to get here. And once you get there, you’ll work hard to stay there. And you know, so, it’s a good thing. I’m glad, in a way, that he has to come up that way, because it taught him a lesson in, about just, I guess life in general. You know what I mean? And he knows that once it’s over, it’s over.