Former light heavyweight titleholder Antonio Tarver, who has not fought since June 2012 when he tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid drostanolone following a draw-turned-no-contest with Lateef Kayode, will return to the ring against West Virginia’s Mike Sheppard on Nov. 26 — five days after Tarver’s 45th birthday. The fight will be shown as part of Golden Boy Live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the ring and showing the world that the ‘Magic Man”is better than ever and ready for the big fights,” said Tarver. “This is the perfect opportunity to make a statement at home and I can’t wait.”
A regular Showtime commentator, Tarver (29-6, 20 knockouts) came up dirty following a post-fight drug test administered by the California State Athletic Commission in the aftermath of his bout with Kayode on June 2 of last year at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Last October, the CSAC voted, 4-to-1, to uphold the year-long suspension it imposed on Tarver, who was also fined $2,500 of the $1.1 million purse he earned for facing Kayode.
During the hearing, Tarver said that he was “totally shocked and surprised and taken aback by the results of that test,” adding, “I never had to cheat or take a shortcut.”
Tarver indicated that the positive result may have been the result of a medication that was given to him by a doctor the day prior to facing Kayode in order to ease the pain of an ankle injury that he suffered in training.
“I’ve been boxing competitively for over 30 years, from the amateurs up into the pros, and one thing about being an Olympian is that it’s about sportsmanship, and I feel that my mom raised me right. She’s always told me that if you lie, you steal, and if you steal, you cheat, and I take pride in that and in raising my kids as well. I have a son who I’m glad to say has taken an interest in boxing, and my daughter…she’s a performer as well,” said Tarver during an impassioned speech to the CSAC.
“But more than anything, Daddy is sort of, like, they admire me and they look up to me for all of the things that I’ve accomplished and done through hard work and commitment and dedication. Boxing has been my life, and I would like to think that I represent my sport, which I love, very, very well. I can truly say that if it wasn’t for boxing, I don’t know where I would be coming from a drug-infested neighborhood where I had every reason in the world to fail, and to quit and to give up. Boxing was my lifeline, and I take the sport very, very seriously.”
But commission members argued that Tarver did not disclose the injury to the organization before the fight, nor did he take responsibility for having the substance in his body or prove that the test was wrong.
Tarver entered the Kayode fight following off a ninth-round stoppage of cruiserweight Danny Green in Australia, the first knockout loss of the Aussie’s career.
It marked the second win for Tarver after a 17-month layoff that had followed consecutive losses to Chad Dawson in 2008 and 2009.
Tarver also has two wins from the three times he faced Roy Jones Jr. — stopping him in the second round in May of 2004 after having dropped a majority decision in 2003. Tarver unanimously decisioned Jones in 2005.
Sheppard, 38, has lost three of his past four fights, having been stopped in the first round by former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev in March.
“Beating someone like Antonio Tarver would be career-altering for me,” said Sheppard. “I know what he’s accomplished in the sport, but I’m hungry for this, and you’re going to see the best Mike Sheppard yet.”
Also on the card against an opponent to determined is Miami-based Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz (19-0, 16 KOs), a 34-year-old southpaw who was last in the ring in July for a bout that was ruled a no-contest after his opponent fell out of the ring.
“I have not fought here in Florida in almost two years, and this is what my fans have been waiting for,” said Ortiz. “It’s going to be a big night in Florida, and I will be looking for a knockout.”
MANAGER PAT LYNCH SAYS ARTURO GATTI-MICKY WARD DOCUMENTARY WILL BE ‘EMOTIONAL’
Pat Lynch, who managed late former champion Arturo Gatti, said that he and his family will attend Wednesday’s New York screening of HBO’s Legendary Nights documentary based on the Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy.
“I think that it’s going to really emotional. I’m bringing my youngest daughter (Cameron, 14), who is Arturo’s goddaughter, and my oldest daughter (Alexandra, 20), who grew up knowing Arturo,” said Lynch last Thursday. “So I think that it’s going to be a little rough on them in certain spots, but they want to be there. We’re all looking forward to it.”
The documentary will be broadcast at midnight ET/PT on Saturday following the network’s 9:45 p.m. ET/PT airing of the WBO junior welterweight bout between titleholder Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov.
Legendary Nights will be broadcast prior to the 1:15 a.m. ET/PT broadcast of HBO’s 2 Days featuring featherweight champion Mikey Garcia in advance of his fight with WBO junior lightweight beltholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez.
Gatti, 37, was found dead on July 11, 2009, in his hotel room in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas. He was vacationing with his wife, Amanda Rodrigues, who was arrested and charged with his murder but later released. An investigation is ongoing.
Nicknamed “Thunder,” Gatti was known for his blood-and-guts approach to boxing, and will forever be remembered for his riveting three fights with Ward. But Lynch said Gatti’s biggest victory was over Tracy Harris Patterson in December 1995, which earned him his first of two world titles.
An Italian-born Canadian who lived in New Jersey, Gatti was Atlantic City’s biggest draw, often packing Boardwalk Hall. That’s where he was beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr., who stopped Gatti in the fifth round of the fighter’s first big-time pay-per-view bout in June 2005.
Interview subjects in the documentary include Lynch, Ward and his wife, Charlene, Ward’s brother and former fighter Dicky Eklund, Gatti’s trainer Buddy McGirt, HBO Boxing host Jim Lampley, boxing commentator Larry Merchant, referee Frank Cappuccino, promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva and writer Ron Borges.
RICKY BURNS-TERENCE CRAWFORD TO BE MANDATED BY WBO
WBO President Paco Valcarcel informed RingTV.com that unbeaten lightweight Terence Crawford, of Omaha, Neb., will be officially declared the organization’s mandatory challenger to British titleholder Ricky Burns as early as December.
Burns (36-2-1, 11 knockouts) has undergone surgery to repair the broken jaw he sustained during last month’s controversial draw against Raymundo Beltran, who dropped Burns in the eighth round.
Meanwhile, Crawford (22-0, 16 KOs) was last in the ring on Oct. 5 when he unanimously decisioned Andrey Klimov.
“Ricky Burns is not able to fight now because he has a fracture in his jaw. The information that we have is that they’re going to be ready to fight in December or January,” said Valcarcel.
“In December, probably around Dec. 13 or something like that, we’re going to send the letter to tell them that they have to start to negotiate the fight. We have to wait 60 days before the mandatory. He fought Jose Gonzalez on [May 11, a ninth-round knockout victory,] so that’s seven months after Jose Gonzalez. The mandatory is Crawford. They will have 30 days from around Dec. 13 to negotiate.”
Photo by Emily Harney-Fightwireimages.com; Torsten Blackwood-AFP/Getty; Al Bello-Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com