Dan Rafael of ESPN.com tweeted on Saturday night that a cruiserweight fight between Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode looks likely for Showtime on May 26, and while we talked about it on Saturday in the Maidana vs Alexander live thread, I wanted to discuss it a bit more, so let's do that.
Tarver (29-6, 20 KO) scored a "big" win last summer over Danny Green, but whether or not I consider it much of a feather in the old man's cap, he did look really good in the fight, physically. At 43, Tarver hasn't taken a ton of punishment in his career, and while he's definitely far slower than he used to be and nowhere near his prime, the Tarver who smoked Danny Green could compete against anyone in the cruiserweight division, I believe.
That includes Kayode (18-0, 14 KO), a Freddie Roach-trained Nigerian who has been featured numerous times on ShoBox: The New Generation, despite an overall lack of interest in the cruiserweight division in the United States.
Kayode's recent fights have been a mixed bag. He defeated Matt Godfrey, and clearly so, same with Felix Cora Jr, but his limitations started to show through in those fights, plus his closer bout with Nicholas Iannuzzi. He looks like he has a lower ceiling than was originally hyped, but that's not unusual or anything.
As much as I don't think Showtime should spend their budget on Tarver vs Kayode, I guess I can say I'm interested to see how Kayode does against someone like Tarver, who is still better than anyone he's fought, and remains a very smart, very confident fighter. And I'm interested to see if Tarver's win over Danny Green was a full mirage; I don't think there's any question that he's probably not quite as good as he looked that night. But how close was that to the "real" current Tarver, and how much was due to Danny Green being old himself, and more worn out than Tarver?
That's what we'll get to find out. And if Kayode wins, it's probably time he starts heading overseas to fight. There's just no interest in his division in the United States, and that's not just one of those things people say. The division has never caught on here and is in no danger of catching on any time soon.