A quote from 42-year-old aspiring heavyweight Antonio Tarver caught my eye this morning over at BoxingScene.com, and I wanted to mention this one more time, lest anyone forget that Tarver doesn't have a leg to stand on when this topic comes up.
"I wanted one fight at cruiserweight. Everyone knows it was Danny Green. But that guy has a yellow streak down his back. He’s a farce and he’s living off a victory over Roy Jones Jr."
I agree that Green's last two fights have been farcical. I agree that Green's ego has become somewhat hilariously overblown, and that Green is just not as good as the reputation he received from stopping a totally shot Roy Jones Jr. last December.
But let's turn back the clock to 2007, shall we?
Antonio Tarver and Danny Green were set to fight on Showtime on December 1, 2007. Showtime had run ads for the fight. Showtime had run those little graphics in the corner of the screen advertising that fight during fights leading up to that date. Tarver was at the time still trying to get his bearings back from an embarrassing blowout loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2006, with just one fight under his belt since the Hopkins bout. That one fight was a win over club fighter Elvir Muriqi, a tough guy that really shouldn't have given Tarver the trouble he did. It was that exact fight (Tarver-Muriqi) where I think we all knew that Tarver was definitely past his peak, and it wasn't just the genius of Hopkins that made him look bad. Muriqi gave a rusty, old-looking Tarver all he could handle.
Green was a nice step up from Muriqi. Since losing a massive fight at 168 to countryman Anthony Mundine in Australia in 2006, he had 3-0 with 3 KOs in a move to light heavyweight. He was seen as a good puncher and a tough guy, not skilled enough to bother Tarver if Antonio was sharp, but dangerous for a Tarver that looked washed-up.
So that fight was going to happen. Except then it didn't. You can't argue that this was simply a case of poor communication between the involved parties, because Showtime was running ads for the fight. It was a known deal. Tarver and Green were going to fight on December 1. Green had even come over to the States for training to adjust to the time difference and all of that.
Once Green discovered that Antonio Tarver was not going to fight him, he signed a fight with Stipe Drews. Tarver will of course argue that Green pulled out of that fight, not him. But why would Green pull out of that fight to face Stipe Drews? We know boxers don't really care which title they have, so saying that it was to fight for Drews' WBA title doesn't hold water. Tarver held the IBO title, was a much bigger name worldwide, and that fight was going to have U.S. TV, which could have only done good things for Green's career if he were to win, and a lot of people thought he had a good shot at winning. Tarver was not exactly on a hot streak at the time. I'm not discounting that maybe Tarver would have beaten Green, but then we see what he did that night.
Fighting undersized club fighter Danny Santiago instead of Green, a still washed-up looking Tarver was able to stop the heinously overmatched Santiago in four rounds. He was slow, he was lethargic, and the result of that fight is more a credit to how big of a mismatch it was no matter what type of performance Tarver put in.
It's he said/he said stuff, but I've never for a second bought that Danny Green came to America to start training and then bailed on a money fight that had huge exposure for him to fight Stipe Drews. I have, on the other hand, bought the idea that Tarver might have decided he didn't want to fight a potential sleeper like Danny Green in December 2007. He was clearly not at his best anymore, and Santiago carried a lot less risk than Green, and Tarver lost nothing in the exchange.
Do I think Tarver would fight Green now? Sure. Green's worth money now. Roy Jones made a boatload of cash for two minutes of work. A fight with Green would sure as hell be a lot more money than fighting Nagy Aguilera, which Tarver will do in his move to heavyweight on October 15.
Over the years, I've grown to appreciate Antonio Tarver's mind for boxing. He's become a wonderful commentator for Showtime, speaks his mind honestly during fights, points out good stuff for the viewers at home, and has learned very quickly on the job. He's a natural on the microphone. And he used to be a very, very good professional fighter. But when it comes to Danny Green, he should leave the criticisms to others, and go about his own business.