16.10.05 – By ALEX ILES: Antonio Tarver has established himself as top dog at light heavyweight. After sensationally knocking out Roy Jones in their second meeting and giving him a run for his money first time around, he went one up in the series by beating Jones in a rubber match.
What is next for Tarver? There has been talk of him moving up to heavyweight. He said he wants Klitshko. Despite not being a fully paid up member of the Tarver fan club, I hope he never steps foot in the ring with the WBC champion. Tarver would be on the end of a merciless, if not career ending beating. Tarver’s status has been elevated since his victories over Jones and Johnson, but let us not get too carried away. Whilst he is the best in the division, he caught Jones at the right time and had too much savvy and general boxing ability for a game Johnson. Other fighters have made the transition to heavyweight and succeeded to an extent.
Jones and Toney spring to mind. Both these fighters are superior to Tarver and have the necessary attributes to exist at heavyweight. Tarver does not – particularly at the elite level of the division.
Whilst his gangling frame could embrace more weight, a jump to heavyweight would be too perilous. In my opinion he couldn’t handle what a juggernaut like Klitschko, a monster like Peter, a power puncher like Brewster, or even a weak chinned albeit technically gifted boxer like Wladimir could present. In short, he would be brutalised.
Feasibly, it is just a bit of chatter to acquire a bit more acknowledgment. Who can blame him? It is a wonder where he goes from here. A rematch with Johnson? Perhaps, although I do not envisage Tarver taking that route. There is talk of a clash with the WBO super middleweight king, Joe Calzaghe. This would be a good fight. Joe has seemingly decided to waste the latter end of his career to date by feasting on sub par opposition. In a career that has been going backwards, Calzaghe does need a defining fight.
If this does happen, Calzaghe cannot afford to take any warm ups. It is now or never.
Maybe Tarver is looking for a big payday before his career winds down and decides to hand up his gloves. A prudent move on his part.
In my opinion, ‘The Magic Man’ can feature in some exciting match ups before he makes his farewell – for his sake, I hope it is not against the heavyweight elite.