Annoyed by an assessment made of him by former light heavyweight champ, Antonio Tarver, while working as a Showtime boxing analyst, Nigerian cruiserweight contender Lateef Kayode has said that he is highly-motivated for his Showtime-televised clash with Tarver on June 2 at Home Depot Center, in Carson, Calif.
But so too is Tarver (29-6, 20 knockouts), who turned 43 in November and plans to deliver a spanking oto the younger Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs).
“We have a storyline here: A young guy who took offense to what I was saying as a commentator. I was just doing my job. I think the youth, the inexperience got the best of him. He’s got his handlers saying that he’s ready to roll the dice. But you’ve got to respect his position,” said Tarver of Kayode, who turned 29 in March.
“He’s a young fighter coming up that has nothing to lose. So Kayode is in a beautiful position. And if he loses to me, what has it done? It’s going to set him back a little bit. But he can regroup. I can’t regroup if I lose to Lateef Kayode. There would be an asterisk and a question mark by my name and we can’t have that.”
Tarver-Kayode is the main event of a quadruple header which includes WBA junior middleweight beltholder Austin Trout (24-0, 14 KOs) defending his crown against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs), middleweight prospect Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) against former junior middleweight champ Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs), and an IBF bantamweight title bout between South African lefthander Vusi Malinga (20-3-1, 12 KOs) and unbeaten Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1 11 KOs).
Trained by Freddie Roach, who also handles Manny Pacquiao, Kayode spent part of his summer sparring with heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell in preparation for Mitchell’s second-round knockout of Timur Ibragimov in December.
Kayode said he took issue with perceived criticism from Tarver concerning his televised bouts.
“Any time that I fight on Showtime, this man, he always talks bad about me. Never when I’m doing good, always when I make mistakes. He’s always waiting for my mistakes. He says that my punches are slapping punches. But none of my punches are slapping. I always fold my glove like a zero,” said Kayode.
“He’s always talking about my accent. Saying that I need to work on my accent. My speaking English. He says that I drop my left hand, and that a good boxer should not fight the way that I’m fighting. He says of me that this guy is not ready for a championship here, and that I need to work on this and that. What does all of that mean? Is he jealous?”
In addition, Kayode said he has observed flaws in Tarver as a result of having studied video of his fights.
“I watched him and saw that this guy has a slapping jab. He can’t take punches. I saw a lot of his fights. How he drops his hands,” said Kayode.
“This guy says I’m slapping? That I’m not that good? That I’m not aggressive? Okay, now, let’s show the world who is the best. I’m calling you out. I want to show the world who is the best.”
But Tarver says he’s ready to take advantage of Kayode’s aggression.
“We’re putting everyone on notice. Expect the unexpected. Kayode said the fight is going to end, that he’s going to knock me out in the fifth round. He might have a good prediction in the fifth round but I think he’s got the storyline a little twisted. This guy is predicting he’ll knock me out in the fifth round. If Kayode comes in with that type of recklessness, he can be out before tha,” said Tarver.
“Because he has never been hit by someone who can punch as hard as me. And not just punching hard, I’m a sharpshooter. I punch organs. I target organs: liver, kidney, heart. I don’t just punch mass, I punch organs and I punch that chin. Remember that the chin is not a muscle so you can have all the muscles surrounding your neck and body, chest and abs, because if I touch that chin the right way, it’s lights out, baby.”
Tarver is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of cruiserweight Danny Green in Australia during which he used a second-round left hand to drop Green on the way to the first knockout loss of the Aussie’s career.
Green had scored a first-round knockout of Roy Jones Jr. in December of 2009, and was Tarver’s second straight victory, following his unanimous decision over heavyweight Nagy Aguilera in October of 2010.
Tarver’s win over Aguilera ended a 17-month layoff for that had followed consecutive losses to Chad Dawson in October of 2008 and May of 2009.
Tarver considers himself the last of a fading breed of fighters, with Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley having recently fallen to WBC lightheavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson and WBC junior middleweight beltholder Saul Alvarez, respectively.
“There are no more guys like myself,” said Tarver. “Shane Mosley lost. Bernard Hopkins lost. I’m the last Mohican. I’m the last guy who is 40-plus.”
Photo by Jeff Young, Showtime
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org