Lanardo Tyner (left) put up a spirited effort in a losing cause against Mike Arnaoutis. Photo: Fightwireimages
Lanardo Tyner has spent his fair share of time in the unseen depths of boxing’s underbelly, but it’s under the television lights where he feels most comfortable.
Not just because the payday is bigger, the accommodations are better leading up to a fight and there is greater appreciation for the hard work he puts in, but because those additional fans are there to serve as witnesses in case of a crime.
“If they do rob you, at least the world sees,” said Tyner, who faces Jessie Vargas in the co-feature of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday night. “I can relax a little bit and take my time. I don’t have to rush the KO. See, if I’m somewhere with no TV and all that, I know I have to knock the guy out. So I’ll be rushing and trying to force everything. But when the fight’s on TV, you have a tendency to relax and fight.”
For the past five years, Tyner has been in the unenviable position of the last-minute opponent. Once a hot prospect like Vargas himself, he was handed his first losses by Mike Arnaoutis and Lamont Peterson, back to back.
As a fighter with no manager or promoter, Tyner (25-6-2, 15 knockouts) is forced to stay on top of his fitness while at the same time managing his career. Logistically, he doesn’t have the time to angle for big fights or wait around for the ideal opportunity. Doing so would be financially irresponsible as well, with no stipend or salary coming in from backers to keep him afloat for months at a time.
Without that backing, the 36-year old can’t even feel safe in his hometown. The Detroit native was on the wrong end of a questionable decision against Canadian Andre Gorges in October of 2010, mere miles down the road from where he sleeps.
“On that one, I was like, I thought I was the home guy?! I should have got that!” said Tyner.
That Tyner feels more comfortable when the cameras are rolling may have something to do with the fact that his biggest victory came on Showtime, which will broadcast his fight on Saturday. As a short-notice opponent for then-prospect Antwone Smith, Tyner upset the apple cart, scoring a ninth round TKO.
In typical fashion, he was back in action on a card staged in a parking lot in Los Angeles less than three months later.
To Tyner’s credit, his manner is far different from that of other journeymen. He never specifically says that he should have received a decision, never complains about the path his career has taken, and won’t make boastful predictions for upcoming bouts.
While fighters claiming they just want to entertain the fans is a tired stance by now, Tyner appears to sincerely feel that way. And as an honest, working fighter—working for himself—all he wants is an honest acknowledgement of his effort on a given night.
“When they make the scorecards like those guys blew me out the doors, that’s what really hurts me. It really hurts on the inside,” said Tyner. “But the boxing Gods, they’re still giving me good fights, so they know what’s going on inside.”
In Vargas (17-0, 9 KOs), the “Gods” at Mayweather Promotions have granted him an opportunity to face one of the most-hyped up-and-comers in the sport today. With a slot rumored to be waiting for him on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto, Vargas has plenty on the line.
Naturally, Vargas has the advantage of a full training camp, while Tyner has known about the contest for just two weeks, having to drop 15 pounds to make the contracted limit of 147 come time for the weigh-in. However, Vargas was given a tough split decision over Josesito Lopez last September, one that some ringside observers had scored for his opponent.
In Tyner’s mind, the opportunity for a competitive fight and a tight decision leaning toward the “A side” is most certainly there.
But at least there’ll be witnesses to both.
Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman