Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Esther Lin/Showtime
While Lateef Kayode attracted a high-ranked international standing for his powerful cruiserweight performances, one man who believed there remained room for improvement was perpetually placed at ringside, on the announcement table, in the form of the IBO world champion in the same weight class; Antonio Tarver. Kayode did not take kind to criticism, so now Tarver aims to show him, in the ring, on Saturday, June 2 at Carson’s Home Depot Center.
Explaining the beef he has with Tarver, undefeated Kayode (18-0-0, 14ko) said: “I have something to prove to Antonio Tarver, [who has] never fought anyone like me. I’m going to prove that all the things he said about me were wrong.”
Trained by Freddie Roach at the renowned Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, Kayode continued: “He said all my punches were sloppy… he said I’m not fighting with any spirit. Every time I fight on ShoBox he says the same thing. He said he’s just doing his job, but when I was doing good and connecting on my punches he just quiets down and says nothing. He only concentrates on my mistakes.”
Tarver (29-6-0, 20ko) claims to be “surprised” by Kayode’s reactions to his appraisals. He said: “I’ve got to see it with my own eyes and tell it how I see it. He’s a guy who is ranked high and if he wasn’t worthy, then I wouldn’t be fighting him [but] it’s not all about him. We all need to go back to the gym every time.
“What I was telling him were the things that I saw that he could have improved on. I’m not thinking of him being able to hit somebody hard or whatever. I’m looking at the intangibles that you need to be a world-class fighter and he could not understand that.
“He showed his inexperience and his youth by getting all emotional and out of whack approaching me and confronting me. Right there that tells me that his emotions got the best of him and now he’s bit off more than he can chew. So now instead of trying to tell him what I thought he should do to improve, now I’ve got to show him.”
Kayode will certainly be making a step-up in class when he looks to deconstruct ring veteran Tarver, a tricky 43-year-old southpaw with a good resume consisting of wins over Danny Green, Clinton Woods, Roy Jones Jr and Glen Johnson but Nigerian pugilist Kayode is not fazed at Tarver’s accomplishments and is banking on becoming the only man to inflict a knockout defeat onto Antonio: “If this fight were in the streets, I know I would win. I’m going to knock him out in the fifth round or the sixth round.”
Tarver is not intimidated by Kayode’s power: “I’m ready for whatever Lateef Kayode can bring,” he stated.
“If he thinks he’s going to be the bully in this fight, then he’s got another thing coming. If he thinks he’s going to bring power to this fight, he’s going to find out early that he’s got another thing coming. He better have an A, B, C, D plan, because it’s going to take more than one game plan to beat me, and just coming with power isn’t going to do it, because I’ve felt power punchers before and I’ve knocked them out. I’ve fought bullies before and I’ve knocked them out. I’ve fought the very best in the world and I’ve beat them.
“I have confidence in my ability and I’m a sharp-shooter. I’m trying to hit that kidney and I’m trying to hit that chin and I’m accurate. So you don’t have to worry about me missing. I’m going to be on point. I’m going to beat [him] down with my defense. I’m going to work for the knockout.”