Reigning light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver are having a war of words via boxing radio shows and Twitter, and, well, I won't lie: It's pretty fun.
Here's what Hopkins said about Tarver on On the Ropes Radio. The entire interview is terrific so if you have the time, click and listen, because Bernard is in his usual outspoken form, but here's the Tarver bit. Host Jenna Jay asked Hopkins if he gave much thought to the fighters who accused him of laying down in his October 15 bout with Chad Dawson:
"You said Antonio Tarver, who’s a bitter man, who I easily beat after being a six-to-one underdog and he lost a quarter million that day when he didn’t knock me out in four rounds. So he has a reason to be envious and biased towards me, but if you see me when I did that first Jean Pascal fight with Showtime, he wants to take pictures and hug at the media sit-down roundtable. ... [W]ith Antonio Tarver, it’s envy and jealousy. I’m still fighting. He’s known more for the Rocky movies than anything else, because the Roy Jones fight with the one punch—he was a one punch wonder! What did he do since then? Nothing! Think about it. No, don’t give me that crap about that guy down there in Australia! The Green Machine! Come on! That’s a joke. Are you kidding me? So let them guys do what they got to do. I guess he needs a buck. He wants me to fight him. He wants a rematch."
So after this, Tarver decided to respond via his Twitter account. His words after the jump.
"I read a bit of the interview and as always he's delusional about my accomplishments. I've given and shown Bernard all the credit and respect from a fighters stand point, but as a person I question why he continues to bring my name up in conversation. He says I'm [envious] and jealous of him and anyone who's ever met or known me knows that's impossible because there's never been a jealous bone in my body. I'm too busy loving me.
"About our fight, he shouldn't get the credit he gets. I took a long layoff, and lost 53 lbs in two months. And I still believe it's a good chance I was poisoned and I may never get the chance to prove it. So I'll charge that to the game, the rematch made sense years ago but I knew he would never fight me again...
"I lost to one person since Hopkins, the same man that would have surely beat his ass. Why would I want to fight a man that can't draw flies to a picnic? The worst pay-per-view in boxing [was] his."
Then he addressed Hopkins specifically:
"Do your little interviews, leave my name out your mouth. I'm the cruiserweight champ, until you get your weight up shut the fuck up. You claim you're the champ, fight Dawson [and] regain your credibility and prove you're the [legend] you say you is. Money shouldn't be the issue, you got paid in advance the first time. Our business is done, handle yours I'm handling mine!!!"
To be really clear, as a nitpicky dork, Tarver's claim to the "cruiserweight championship" is every bit as iffy as Hopkins makes out above, but Tarver was really impressive in dismantling Danny Green this past July in Australia.
Hopkins, who just turned 47, still holds the legitimate light heavyweight world championship, as well as the WBC belt. Tarver, at 43, is hoping to potentially land a fight with Wladimir Klitschko, which doesn't seem so awful when you compare it to Jean Marc Mormeck, I guess.
Hopkins mentions in the interview that nobody is really clamoring to see him rematch Chad Dawson, which Dawson's promoter Gary Shaw basically said he expected to be the case, though Shaw called it Hopkins ducking Dawson. Fact is there's no money behind the fight. The two bombed at the gate in Los Angeles and on pay-per-view in October. A rematch with those two -- it's just a fight that costs more money to make than it can generate, and I don't care where you put it.
Still, I hope this doesn't mean we're headed for Hopkins vs Tarver II. I'm all for the Grumpy Old Men argument on Twitter and stuff, but I don't want to see them fight each other again. Maybe if Roy Jones Jr is special referee...