Lem Satterfield

A rematch with Antonio Tarver? ‘Absolutely,’ says Hopkins

When 42-year-old Antonio Tarver stopped cruiserweight contender Danny Green in the ninth round on July 20 in Australia, it didn't take long for Bernard Hopkins to get wind of his old foe's accomplishment.

This, even though Hopkins was on the other side of the world.

"I was in Las Vegas for the Amir Khan-Zab Judah fight," said Hopkins, referring to the same night's fifth-round knockout by Khan over Judah. "As soon as I heard about it, yeah, it crossed my mind. I said, 'Yeah, I'll do it' when I found out that he won the championship."

"It" is a rematch of 40-plus-year-olds against Tarver, who picked up the IBO cruiserweight belt when he upset the heavily favored Green. Hopkins was the underdog when he faced Tarver in June of 2006. However, he floored Tarver once on the way to a one-sided unanimous decision in his light heavyweight debut.

Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 knockouts) has no problem giving Tarver a shot at redemption, but first the 46-year-old light heavyweight champ has an Oct. 15 defense of his RING and WBC belts against Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), who has twice beaten Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs).

"It’s not done yet," said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. "[But] there’s a strong likelihood that the fight [Hopkins-Dawson] could take place at Staples Center" in Los Angeles.

Hopkins' game plan includes "cleaning up" the light heavyweight division before fighting IBF super middleweight beltholder Lucian Bute.

He would then tackle a cruiserweight beltholder, he says, which includes Tarver, Marco Huck (WBO titleholder), Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (WBC) or Guillermo Jones, with an emphasis on Tarver.

Hopkins said he will steer clear of the IBF beltholder Steve Cunningham, a fellow Philadelphia resident who shares Hopkins' trainer, Naazim Richardson.

"Absolutely, I would fight Tarver or anybody in the cruiserweight division except Steve Cunningham, because we share the same trainer and teacher and professor in Naazim Richardson," said Hopkins.

"So unless there are two Naazim Richardsons out there, then Tarver will be the person that I would go after as far as making history as a cruiserweight. That's to have another add-on to my belts and to have that shot at history. So yeah, I would definitely consider that. Very, very much so."

Tarver also welcomes the rematch.

"I haven't had that chance to avenge that loss to Bernard Hopkins, but who knows what's in the cards for the future?" said Tarver, who turns 43 in November.

"I don't see nobody out there in the cruiserweight division beating me. I don't see Hopkins, I don't see none of those guys stepping up to me and doing anything. I'm ready for whoever."

In May, Hopkins dethroned Jean Pascal of Canada by unanimous decision, becoming the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title.

Hopkins' triumph came when he was 192 days older than when 45-year-old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.

Hopkins-Pascal II was a rematch of December's disputed, majority draw that was contested during which Hopkins rose from a pair of knockdowns and seemingly out-boxed Pascal for what should have been declared a victory for him.

Tarver, meanwhile, stopped Green (31-4, 27 KOs) for the first time in the latter's career, ended his winning streak at 10 fights and simultaneously resurrecting his own career.

"Tarver went over to Australia and did the unthinkable, just like what I did with Jean Pascal," said Hopkins. "I can't take credit for the man's victory, but I think that Tarver is a man that if he was motivated by anything, that I know winning is one of the things that he likes to do, and that he was probably motivated by what I've done."

Before facing Green, Tarver earned a unanimous decision over Nagy Aguilera in a heavyweight bout last October.

"I want to be the first middleweight to win a cruiserweight title," said Hopkins. "I don't think that has ever been done before."

Roy Jones failed to earn a cruiserweight belt when Green stopped him in the first round in late 2009. Jones had earned belts as a middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.

Hopkins ran off a middleweight record 20 title defenses and has split victories with Jones, who is 1-2 against Tarver, having once been been stopped by Tarver in the second round.

But Tarver said Hopkins needs first to worry about Dawson.

"I think that it's a bad fight for Bernard. Chad is boxer, he can move, and he's got a little pop in his punches," said Tarver. "Chad has hand speed and he's mobile. I don't see how Bernard's going to be able to trap this kid and make him dance to his tune, so it will be an interesting fight."

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