Steve Cunningham called Antonio Tarver a "clown" this week. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Since beating Danny Green on July 20 to capture a non-recognized cruiserweight belt (IBO) in Australia, Antonio Tarver has, well, gone back to being the old Antonio Tarver.
First, he wants to face Bernard Hopkins, who currently holds the world light heavyweight championship:
@THEREALBHOP I'm your biggest fan against Dawson and then we need to settle our business. One for the ages!!
I'm not sure exactly what business Tarver believes there is to settle with Hopkins, who blew Tarver out of the ring in 2006 to claim the first of his two legit light heavyweight championships, as a time when Hopkins was not only supposed to be at the end of his line, but was stepping up two divisions from middleweight to face Tarver. Hopkins won on scores of 118-109 across the board, and the fight was simply not even close.
Now 46, Hopkins faces Chad Dawson on October 15. Tarver, now 42, says he doesn't want to wait too long because of their ages:
@THEREALBHOP BHOP I heard the rumblings but we're not 20 something anymore by the time you clean up the LHW's and Bute we'll be pushing 50
Tarver has also reportedly expressed interest in fighting WBC heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko, which sounds like just a horrible idea considering we saw how Tarver looked at heavyweight last year when he fought Nagy Aguilera. It was not impressive to say the least.
That leads us into the next part of this, which involves top-ranked cruiserweight Steve Cunningham. Cunningham, now promoted by Sauerland Event, still doesn't fight enough, and at 35 himself, is looking to find big fights. Cunningham vs Tarver wouldn't draw in the States, but could in Germany, where the cruiserweight division is actually viable commercially. I've called Cunningham the nicest man in boxing in the past, but he's dropped that demeanor in his criticisms of Tarver. Here's an exchange between Cunningham and heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers:
Just heard that Tarver said he can beat Klitchkos..Cthu!!..he talking out his ass..lol
@Champfasteddie yo for real , he's a clown.
@usscunningham Defintly..He was in Heavyweight.fought a nobody.then went to cruiserweight beat a hyped up Danny Green.. now he superman..lol
Tarver's ego has never been immune to criticism, but I can say that over his career he has backed up his mouth, with the Hopkins fight being a lone exception. Cunningham also went ahead and made one of those challenges that isn't going to happen in a million years, but always gets gullible boxing fans talking:
@Antoniotarver I propose we fight winner take all loser gets paid nothing, that's coming from the best cruiserweight in the world.
The chances of a winner-take-all fight are, you know, not good, since no commission would have it and no pro boxer is really stupid enough to risk having an entire camp, then a fight, and wind up not getting paid, especially given some of the judging in the sport and the fact that you might deserve to win only to find out that three blind mice at ringside were watching Williams vs Lara again. It's cute talk, but nothing more.
I have conflicted feelings here, really. Tarver is not, in my opinion, even a top five cruiserweight based on a win over Danny Green, who really isn't a cruiserweight, is old, and whose best win at the weight is BJ Flores, even counting his 185-pound catchweight bouts, which were largely joke material.
But at his age, and with his reputation, I can see why he doesn't want to fight Cunningham. He might not want to travel to Germany, which is the only place the fight will make real money. He probably doesn't want to risk any future paydays like a Hopkins rematch, either. Tarver wants big fights, and considering he's got a handful of fights left at best, that's understandable. Cunningham is really good, but isn't big money.
On the other hand, I have almost no desire to see a Hopkins vs Tarver rematch. It wasn't competitive the first time and to me it smacks of a seniors tour event, even though Hopkins is the best light heavyweight in the world right now, and Tarver is a top ten cruiserweight. Putting them together just doesn't seem like interesting matchmaking to me anymore. Apart, there are interesting fights. Together, it's just Grumpier Old Men, with Tarver replacing Roy Jones Jr against Bernard. As for Tarver against Vitali Klitshcko, please. No.
There is a chance that Cunningham and Tarver will create some buzz for a fight, though. It's probably not a great chance, and really it would be better to see Cunningham back in with Marco Huck for a rematch, or in with Denis Lebedev, but those fights also don't appear to be happening.
There's a lot going on here, and none of it is exactly standing on a strong foundation. It's a lot of talk, a lot of hype, a lot of chatter, and a lot of hoping and wishing.