Gary Shaw – Promoter
It’s very worrisome where our sport is heading these days with the recent array of fighters testing positive for banned substances. The sport is getting killed with all these fights being canceled and I hope the networks are not going to lose interest. As promoters, we do our best to make sure everyone is abiding by the rules. I’m happy that the commissions are stepping up their stance on catching fighters cheating because the safety of the fighter should always come first.
It’s unfortunate that in Lateef Kayode’s first major opportunity, he had to fight on what appears to be an uneven playing field. I have a lot of respect for Antonio Tarver and would be very disappointed to find out that he knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.
It is my hope that Tarver requests that the B sample will be tested and will show that Tarver was clean. However, if the sample comes back dirty, then the commission should take appropriate action. It was a very close fight as it was ruled a split draw, but now that we have been informed by the California State Athletic Commission about the alleged drug use, I’ll have to talk to Lateef and his management team to see what we’ll do to resolve this matter.
In addition, the horrible scoring by the judges, the excessive use of PEDs, and the promoters’ inability to work together, is only going to kill this sport. Something needs to be done and major changes need to be made… and the time is now.
The boxing business is getting worse by the day and we are losing fans by the minute. Boxing has been around longer than any other sport and we must keep the integrity of the game pure. I implore the commissions around the United States to take severe action against any fighter who doesn’t abide by the commissions’ standards. We need a strict drug testing policy to rid the sport of those that don’t want to play by the rules, and we need more competent judges.
On The Beak – Admin
WBO interim cruiserweight titlist Ola Afolabi watched with interest on Saturday night as 200lb contenders Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode squared off in a twelve round bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Afolabi, though, regarded his two bouts with Marco Huck, who he regards to be the true cruiserweight champion, to be pugilism of a higher quality. The Briton’s manager even stated Ola would welcome a tussle with Lateef or Antonio.
(Embedded video above credit – YouTube, Gstaron76)
“It was a somewhat entertaining fight as they’re on similar levels, but both of my world title bouts with Marco Huck were much better fights. Marco is considered the best champion and we are truly world-class cruiserweights, competing at a higher level than either Tarver or Kayode,” said the Los Angeles resident Afolabi. “I would be very interested in the opportunity to defend my WBO title in this country against either of them on Showtime.”
Afolabi and Huck battled in a fight of the year candidate on Saturday, May 5 in Erfurt, Germany, in what was a sensational action-packed bout that was scored a draw at the conclusion of the memorable twelve round clash.
Said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions: “We all thought Ola beat Huck… it was a war and a huge event in Germany. I commend Showtime for showing this cruiserweight fight as the main event of their show, I know Ola would fight either Lateef or Antonio.”
Originally from London, England, Afolabi has trained in recent years at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood.
“Ola has shown his interest in fighting the best cruiserweights in the world and has traveled all over Europe in the last four years to do so. It would be great to have him fight in the US again, now that the cruiserweights have been showcased and caught the attention of the US boxing fans.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Lateef Kayode and Antonio Tarver were due to engage in a timeless youth versus experience duel on Saturday, June 2 but, the Home Depot Center in Carson bout had an edge… as Tarver – an announcer on Showtime – had been openly critical of Kayode’s style, something the latter did not take kindly too. Considering the bad blood, what transpired seemed to be anticlimactic as, in a fight of two halves, neither man emerged triumphant…
(Embedded video above credit – YouTube, ShoSports)
Tarver (29-6-1, 20ko) retained his IBO cruiserweight world title, but may well have relinquished it should he have maintained the sub-standard form he displayed during the contest’s initial going. Kayode (18-0-1, 14ko), commanded authority for the majority of the fight’s first half, forcing the Magic Man into a defensive shell that lacked sparkle and it was only in round five, where Tarver rattled Lateef’s foundations, when he was able to finally gain momentum, finish strong and make a case for a share of the spoils.
Antonio received one score of 115-113, another of 113-115 and one even split of 114-114.
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.”
On The Beak – Admin
World ranked junior middleweight contender Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14ko) has signed on to challenge defending WBA world champion Austin Trout (24-0-0, 14ko) on Saturday, June 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, as announced by Joe DeGuardia, President of Star Boxing, today. The twelve round Rodriguez/Trout clash will be broadcast on Showtime, as part of their scheduled ‘quadruple header’ evening of live boxing.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Delvin and we’re very thankful to Showtime for broadcasting his world title fight against Austin Trout. Delvin’s been looking for big fights since his dominating win over Pawel Wolak in December at Madison Square Garden and was thrilled when we spoke about the world title fight,” said DeGuardia.
“”Delvin hasn’t fought on the West Coast since early in his career, and the Home Depot Center is an outstanding venue for boxing and he’s looking forward to fighting in front of the knowledgeable and supportive Southern California fight fans.”
Born in the Dominican Republic and now residing in Danbury, Connecticut, the East Coast fan favorite Rodriguez, 28-5-3, has been a staple of ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights for many years, having appeared eleven times and participating in numerous memorable battles.
In 2011, Rodriguez’s ten round war with Pawel Wolak was named “Fight of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of American along with numerous other boxing outlets. The unforgettable fight, promoted by Star Boxing, took place at a sold out Roseland Ballroom in New York City on July 15 with Rodriguez valiantly fighting to a ten round majority draw over the bull-rushing Wolak.
In the rematch with Wolak on December 3 in front of a sold out Garden crowd and broadcast on HBO, Rodriguez dominated Wolak in winning a lopsided ten round unanimous decision. Rodriguez brought the MSG crowd to its feet in the tenth and final round as he went for the knockout and brutally battered Wolak, who was saved by the bell.
Rodriguez is currently world ranked number five by the IBF, WBA and WBO along with number seven by the WBC. He previously challenged for the IBF welterweight title in 2009, losing a close split decision to Isaac Hlatshwayo. Four of Rodriguez’ five losses have been closely-competitive and tight decisions.
Trout, meanwhile, won his world title with a twelve round unanimous decision over Rigoberto Alvarez on February 5, 2011 in Jalisco, Mexico. He has defended it twice, most recently stopping Frank LoPorto on November 11th in El Paso, Texas.
Elsewhere on the Showtime card set for early June is a middleweight bout between comebacking veteran Ronald Winky Wright against undefeated Wildcard contender Peter Quillin, a bantamweight clash for the full IBF belt between Leo Santa Cruz and Vusi Malinga and the headlining match-up… the IBO cruiserweight championship between Antonio Tarver and challenger Lateef Kayode.
On The Beak – Admin
WBC cruiserweight champion Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk (46-2-1, 33ko) doesn’t blame Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver for stepping around him to take a seemingly easier fight. Despite being offered a shot at Wlodarczyk’s prestigious belt, Tarver (29-6-0, 20ko) will instead face the strong, but inexperienced Lateef Kayode on June 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
“I was not surprised by his decision,” said Wlodarczyk. “I said to my promoters, Andrew Wasilewski and Leon Margules, that a fight between Tarver and me will never happen. He is an intelligent guy and knows he has a very small chance of surviving 12 rounds with me. He realises I’m too strong and too hungry for him. It’s that simple.”
A champion since 2010 with three successful defenses under his belt, Wlodarczyk says he is in a similar position to the one a young Antonio Tarver once found himself.
“I am looking for any of the big names in my division to fight me, kind of like how Antonio used to follow Roy Jones around and accuse him of taking easy fights while avoiding his toughest opponents. The shoe is on the other foot now though.
“Today, Antonio is an old man, too lazy to make his proper fighting weight, and looking to make money the easiest way possible against the easiest foes. Life is like a circle sometimes. Maybe if I’m between 40 and 50 and still fighting I will someday talk the same bullsh*t.”
Wlodarczyk says he’s not angry with Tarver, but offers him the following advice: “Good luck Antonio, but if this is how you are going to be, then forget talking about serious fights for serious titles!”
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Recently crowned IBO cruiserweight world champion Antonio Tarver will continue to back up his strong words by attracting accolades and collecting wins, unlike Britain’s fallen heavyweight David Haye whose star stock crashed with an insipid performance against Wladimir Klitschko earlier in the year. Wladimir tagged Haye with a repeated right cross; something the Ukrainian would not be able to do against Tarver, the American claimed.
“I want the heavyweight title,” Tarver, a bronze medal Olympian at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and an undisputed champion at light heavyweight as a professional, boldly proclaimed to Fight Hype.
Tarver (29-6-0, 19ko) is at odds explaining dominant heavyweight Klitschko’s decision to follow his Haye victory with a defence of his unified titles against Jean-Marc Mormeck, especially when Wladimir had given an indication of his interest in boxing Antonio as early as last year.
“Wladimir Klitschko called me out last year and he’s now fighting Mormeck? I’m here,” said the veteran. “These guys know I have skills and know I can fight. I ain’t gonna be a target for nobody. I’m a southpaw – his right hand won’t touch me. I wanna turn the boxing world upside down.”
Tarver talks a big game but insists he can back his mouth up with his fists, something Haye failed to do in Germany when he was reduced to throwing hail Mary’s from the outside as Wladimir dominated their highly-anticipated match-up.
“They can hear me loud and clear but nobody is stepping up. I’m bringing the title back to America. I’m not going to walk around with tee-shirts with decapitated heads on them. I’m not going to talk [faeces] I can’t back up like David Haye.”
Tarver blasted his way back to significance at the 200lb weight limit by snatching Danny Green’s IBO cruiserweight title away from him in his own backyard in Australia. Tarver, 42, trumped Green, 38, by way of ninth round retirement. A rematch was mooted, but never materialised as Green instead elected to challenge Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for the WBC title – a decision that has irked Tarver.
“I resent the way Danny Green went about his business. The only rematch clause was we go where the most money was to be made. I don’t think anybody in America would be interested in that fight. [It was] in his hometown where the fans were looking for redemption – they support him. Danny Green chickened out.”
All Pictures: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
Despite being burdened with the underdog tag, unheralded Pablo Cesar Cano made a name for himself by going ten brutal ebb and flow rounds with ring legend Erik Morales on Saturday, September 17 at the Star Power event in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. By the bout’s conclusion – a teekayo triumph for Morales – both boxers bore bruising, swelling and cuts on their face.
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Veteran American athlete Antonio Tarver and retired Welshman Joe Calzaghe, both champions of two weight divisions, have engaged in an online sparring session. There was no headgear nor were there gloves… but the primary weapons were their fingertips as the two went keyboard-to-keyboard in Twitter trash-talk. Tarver called out Calzaghe and mocked his resume, while Joe riposted: “I’d have kicked your ass!”
“Put his resume under the microscope minus [Roy] Jones [Jr] and [Bernard] Hopkins; his last two fights,” Tarver (29-6-0, 19ko) said. “[It is] suspect to say the least, the guy made a living off of bums of the month [and] he fought two great names in his last two fights. I would’ve stretched him, period,” asserted the 42-year-old who, in his sole outing in 2011, retired Australian fighter Danny Green to become the latest incumbent of the IBO cruiserweight world championship.
Calzaghe officially announced his retirement in 2009. The Briton, had 46 professional fights behind him – all of them victories – and so, because of his achievements at world level, became only the third undisputed and undefeated major titlist (along with Rocky Marciano and Ricardo Lopez) to call the curtain on his career without registering a single blemish.
Amongst the list of foes vanquished by Calzaghe (46-0-0, 32ko) included: Chris Eubank, Robin Reid, Mario Veit, Jeff Lacy, Sakio Bika, Peter Manfredo Jr, Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. Tarver, though, believes the standard of opposition he faced, at the times he fought them, is questionable. Furthermore, he laughed at Calzaghe’s inability to knockout Lacy despite the domination: “He hit Lacy with everything in every round and still couldn’t KO him – pathetic! He fought a bunch of B-level opponents when he was in is prime; guys, you at least have to admit that.”
He continued: “I always wanted to fight him but I was busy fighting the toughest fights available: Jones, Johnson [and] Hopkins. I believe I have the style and ability to beat him at anytime in his career, I would love to prove it.”
He then sent Calzaghe, who made 21 successful defences of his super middleweight championship before accumulating further belts at light heavyweight, a message: “I would’ve shattered your weak chin Joe and you know this. From the southpaw stance you couldn’t avoid it. If a big bad black guy is in your dream tonight don’t worry, it’s me. You’re safe it’s just a dream.”
Calzaghe, who has not fought since his 12-round showboating over Jones Jr in 2008 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, responded by saying: “I love how fighters are calling me out 3 years since I quit. I get it! It’s all about a payday. But the truth is I was fighting the winner of you and Bernard Hopkins and you lost! For the record I would have kicked your ass! Didn’t you get destroyed by Hopkins? Then i beat him after you?”
It is not the first time Calzaghe has had to shrug off the advances of active fighters looking to snare the 39-year-old back into the ring. When Bernard Hopkins met Calzaghe at ringside for Amir Khan’s July 23 unification fight with Zab Judah, he took it upon himself to attempt to secure his rematch, detailed by On The Beak here.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Consensus number one cruiserweight Steve Cunningham is due to take on dangerous Cuban southpaw Yoan Pablo Hernandez on Saturday, October 1 at the Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Germany as negotiations for each fighter’s first choice fell through. A “winner take all” all-American contest with Antonio Tarver was rejected, so Cunningham will again take his “ship of war” to foreign canvas.
“I have been trying to get a fight all summer,” IBF champion Cunningham explained to Fight Hype, confirming his fight with Hernandez (ranked number 7 in the division by On The Beak) has been added to a Germany card co-featuring a middleweight contest between Sebastian Sylvester and Grzegorz Proksa as well as a light heavyweight bout with Karo Murat and Gabriel Campillo.
Cunningham (24-2-0, 12ko) declared that the reason of his alignment with Hernadez (24-1-0, 13ko) was due to the dissipation of his fight with Tarver, and the failure of a Hernandez/Guillermo Jones match-up to bear fruit. He said: “[Hernandez has] been trying to get Jones in the ring. It didn’t happen for either of us so now we’re meeting up.”
A road warrior, Cunningham – from Philadelphia – has not fought in his home town since 2003. The 35-year-old has taken his “ship of war” to South Africa, Poland (twice) and Germany (thrice); a nation he will again box in come October: “We are used to it and enjoy traveling,” said the fight veteran.
“At first, it was a ‘do what you have to do’ thing but now, after fighting overseas so much, we have gotten used to it and we are quite comfortable. I have only fought in my hometown once in my entire boxing career – amateur and professional, so I guess you can say I have been like a ship of war from the beginning.”
Cunningham, meanwhile, insists the inability to get Tarver in the ring was not down to a lack of desire on his part: “There isn’t enough money to lure Tarver into a fight that he knows he’ll lose – [he was offered a] winner take all.”
On whether he believes that, as a two-time champion of the IBF belt at the 200lb weight limit, whether he believes he deserves more commendation and press than he currently receives, Cunningham riposted: “What I deserve is a pit in hell but thanks to the blood of Jesus I have a place in heaven.
“A lot of fighters don’t feel they are getting what they deserve, but I thank God that I am a two-time world champion and still able to perform at the top level in this division and my career is not over yet.”