When former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver steps into the ring opposite undefeated cruiserweight Lateef Kayode on Saturday night, their Showtime-televised clash from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., will be yet another in this year’s ongoing trend of old foxes taking on young wolves.
“Because he knows that a win over a legend like Tarver is a life-changing event, that’s what makes Kayode dangerous. So whatever you’ve seen from Kayode before in his last few fights, I think you can just throw that out of the window,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
“I just think that what you’re going to see on Saturday night is the best Kayode ever, because a younger guy might not have the same skill-level, but you underestimate these young guys at your own risk.”
Over the past few months, the youthful lions have been victorious in four of six bouts against the older cats.
For example, Abner Mares, who is 26, earned a unanimous decision over a man 10 years older Eric Morel for the WBC’s junior featherweight crown. In a similar situation, junior welterweight Danny Garcia, who is 24, dropped four-division titlewinner Erik Morales, 35, in the 11th round on the way to taking his WBC belt by unanimous decision.
In yet another battle, WBC junior middleweight beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who is 21, unanimously decisioned 40-year-old ex-titleholder Shane Mosley, and in a final clash of the ages, 29-year-old Chad Dawson dethroned RING and WBC light heavyweight champion, Bernard Hopkins, who is 47.
“They were sort of the changing of the guard, but the fact is that none of them were blowouts. Hopkins was very much in the fight. Morales was in the fight. Morel was in the fight and Mosley showed up,” said Schaefer, who promotes Alvarez, Hopkins, Garcia and Mares.
“The older guys are coming to fight because they know that there is no tomorrow, and the young guys are excited about going into the ring with these legends, who they are looking at as a platform to catapult them into a different league in boxing.”
Judah viciously beat down previously undefeated Vernon Paris, who is 24, on the way to a ninth-round stoppage. Corley, who has lost 19 times, scored a 10th-round knockout of Paul McCloskey, who was stopped for the first time in his career and lost for only the second time in 25 fights.
In the case of Tarver (39-6, 20 knockouts), who turned 43 in November, it was the elder man who was been drawn out by the youthful angst of Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs), whose 29th birthday was in March.
Kayode has taken exception to what Tarver has called “constructive criticism” while assessing Kayode’s repertoire over the course of several fights he has observed in his role as a Showtime boxing analyst.
“There is a reason why a guy is a legend, because he has fought and beaten many other great names. So he’s going to have much more experience. But the thing is, that when a fighter has reached a certain age, and he’s fighting a substantially younger guy, even if the skill-level is not the same, the young fighter that hunger, and he’s ready,” said Schaefer.
“You just can’t underestimate a hungry fighter who is ready and who wants to make a name for himself and his family. So those young guys, they will come ready. So that will be interesting to see if that trend is going to continue with Tarver and Kayode.”
RingTV.com culled the opinions of 20 experts on who will win Tarver-Kayode.
Antonio Tarver KO 8 Lateef Kayode: Although Tarver is old, he’s one of the most intelligent fighters in the sport, and should be able to dispense of the limited Lateef Kayode.
Kayode only has one dimension — though it’s a good one — and if he can’t hurt Tarver badly, he’s going to have trouble finding the former light heavyweight champ.
I expect Tarver to control the fight with his jab and ring generalship, before he starts to wear Kayode down over the late rounds and stops him.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Antonio Tarver is the first real test for Lateef Kayode — a real athlete – at this level. I haven’t seen a great deal of Kayode, but in calling out Tarver he may have set himself a genuine task.
I’d say it depends on which version of Tarver shows up. There has been enough juice for the Tarver who wants to dig deep to take the spoils. Tarver to win on a points decision victory – unless he suddenly grows old in the course of this fight.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Antonio Tarver by decision or late-rounds technical knockout. I expect Lateef Kayode to bring the fight to the veteran as he promises, but not as recklessly as most think he will. The undefeated but still-developing cruiserweight will try to methodically cut the ring off on Tarver.
But the well-rounded former light heavyweight champ will plant his feet, as he’s promised, and invite exchanges. Tarver will consistently get the better of Kayode during these exchanges. Kayode might rock Tarver once or twice, or knock him off balance.
But the 43-year-old will hurt and back up Kayode with his straighter, better-timed punches. Only Kayode’s conditioning and stubbornness will keep him upright going into the late rounds.
Antonio Tarver UD 12 Lateef Kayode: At 43, Antonio Tarver is going to need the fountain of youth that has sustained Bernard Hopkins for so long. The guess here is that it will be there for Tarver for one more fight, mostly because of timing.
Although 29, Lateef Kayode is a fight or two short of being ready for somebody with Tarver’s skillful ability, which includes gamesmanship that could be pivotal. The betting odds are out-of-whack.
Kayode, a 4-1 underdog, has a puncher’s chance augmented by youthful energy. But he has yet to see the wide array of tricks that old men use to beat younger ones.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Based on the Danny Green performance, Antonio Tarver seems to have found a home at cruiserweight and at 43 he still has a lot of the skills that enabled him to win multiple titles. One of the few concessions to age is a slower pace and a lower output, which may allow Lateef Kayode to out-hustle him.
As for Kayode, he has a mixed record against left-handers; he was impressive against Matt Godfrey but against Felix Cora Jr. he was occasionally awkward. Plus, both of them stunned Kayode with left crosses.
That’s bad news against Tarver, who will recognize and seize upon any weaknesses. Kayode is still very raw technically and as long as Tarver avoids the big bomb he should still have enough in the tank to win a decision.
Antonio Tarver KO 11 Lateef Kayode: Antonio Tarver’s experience is going to be the difference in this fight. Lateef Kayode is a good young fighter with a lot of power.
But I still think he needs to learn his craft a bit longer before he steps up to the big boys. Tarver by late stoppage in round 11.
Antonio Tarver UD 12 Lateef Kayode: Lateef Kayode is a strong guy, but he has never fought anyone as skilled and intelligent as Antonio Tarver, whose highly reliable chin will be a great asset in this fight.
Even at 43, Tarver will expose Kayode’s technical flaws and might even hurt the unbeaten Nigerian contender in the later rounds on his way to comfortable decision win.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: I agree with Antonio Tarver’s observations about Lateef Kayode during his commentary.
Lateef is a good but flawed fighter, and Tarver will expose those flaws. Kayode will have his moments, but Tarver is way slicker and will find a way to win.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: I like Antonio Tarver and his experience. Lateef Kayode is young and strong, but still very raw and unrefined.
Antonio Tarver UD 12 Lateef Kayode: Lateef Kayode is very strong and especially early can prove to be very dangerous. But Antonio Tarver is one of the craftiest and experienced fighters in boxing today.
Everyone wrote him off after his losses to Chad Dawson, but he has rebounded remarkably well with some solid wins. Kayode has had trouble with the craftiness of much lesser fighters than Tarver.
And although it can be argued that those experiences helped him to learn so that he could be ready for this type of fight, I’m just not sure he has enough to deal with Tarver’s world class experience.
I think that the trend continues here as Kayode will try and give his all, but Tarver will outsmart him. I can see Tarver stopping him late, but I’ll go with Tarver on points with Kayode’s grit and heart letting him see the final bell. Tarver, unanimous decision.
Antonio Tarver SD 12 Lateef Kayode: Everyone’s expecting a slugger like Lateef Kayode to chase a superior boxer in Antonio Tarver around the ring for 12 rounds, and at first, I see it going that way.
However, I think that if Freddie Roach can keep him focused on the task at hand, Kayode will do his due diligence to the body and force Tarver into some entertaining exchanges in the mid-rounds.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Tarver age overnight in the championship rounds, but pull out a close win on the cards based on his experience and guile–albeit a controversial one, where a well-conditioned Kayode puts the pressure on until the very end.
Kayode can win enough rounds in several observers’ eyes based on his aggression. I think it’s going to be a good one.
Antonio Tarver late-round KO Lateef Kayode: Oh boy, do we get excited about this one or what? Not! Having said that, Antonio Tarver wins this one. He is nursing along his elder statesmen status, hoping to fit into a money slot in the heavyweight division.
He has all the veteran tools to befuddle a neophyete like Lateef Kayode. I’ll go with a late-round stoppage win for the Showtime broadcaster.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Unless Antonio Tarver becomes an “old man” overnight, I expect him to outbox the one-dimensional Lateef Kayode, who doesn’t look good against boxers who move and give him angles.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Following his back to back losses to Chad Dawson a few years back, I didn’t know what the future held for Antonio Tarver.
But he is someone you can’t overlook, and his victory over Danny Green last year impressed me. Lateef Kayode hasn’t blown me away with his skills.
But just the fact that he is a young, strong bull who can punch a bit will make him difficult in my opinion. I expect Tarver to come away with a decision win after having to dig down pretty deep.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: Assuming Antonio Tarver can show up as sharp as he was for Danny Green, and in his 40s, he may not have a ton of sharp outings left, he should still have enough in his tank to deal with the limited Lateef Kayode.
Kayode has heavy hands, but he fights in straight lines and can appear befuddled when he doesn’t get his man out of there. Tarver can use his long southpaw jab and angles to score points and build towards a decision.
Antonio Tarver UD 12 Lateef Kayode: I hate to pick against a strong, young fighter like Lateef Kayode, but his level of experience and ability pales next to that of Antonio Tarver, who proved against Danny Green recently enough that he has something left at 43. Tarver by unanimous decision.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: This is all depends on how much Antonio Tarver has left. Lateef Kayode is a Freddie Roach fighter who has a great punch, but is somewhat raw. Let’s see if Tarver’s guile and experience pays off, which I think it will.
Kayode will go clubbing, and Tarver will counter and out box him, winning on points. There could be some exciting moments, and Kayode’s crude approach and punching power will make it interesting.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: I believe that Antonio Tarver will win a decision over Lateef Kayode. I think the style matchup really favors Antonio. One aspect of Antonio Tarver’s game that Kayode may be overlooking is Antonio’s power.
That underrated power, combined with a very good boxing acumen and all of that experience will likely see Antonio take away Kayode’s strengths and win a decision.
Antonio Tarver W 12 Lateef Kayode: I’m picking Antonio Tarver by decision. Yes I know he is far older than Lateef Kayode, but the gap in experience is enormous.
Tarver is a fighter that doesn’t age as much as others because of his time off and the limited number of fights he has taken part in. I think this could be an easier fight than some suspect. Or I could be wrong.