Antonio Tarver

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Antonio Tarver
Tarver holding the IBO cruiserweight title
Real name Antonio Deon Tarver
Nickname(s) The Magic Man
Rated at Light heavyweight
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Reach 75 in (191 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1968-11-21) November 21, 1968 (age 47)
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Total fights 39
Wins 31
Wins by KO 22
Losses 6
No contests 2

Antonio Deon Tarver (born November 21, 1968) is an American professional boxer. Nicknamed the "Magic Man", he is a former WBC, WBA (Super), IBF and The Ring magazine light heavyweight champion, as well as a former IBO cruiserweight champion.

As an amateur, Tarver won a bronze medal in the light heavyweight division while representing the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, eventually losing to Vassiliy Jirov, whom he had previously defeated at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships. He also captured the gold medal at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Berlin, just two months after having triumphed by also winning gold at the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata; Tarver also won gold at the United States national amateur boxing championships in 1995. Tarver is the first (and to date, only) fighter to have ever won gold in the Pan Am Games, World Amateur Championship, and US National championship all in the same year.[1]

In 2006, Tarver starred as Mason "The Line" Dixon, the heavyweight champion in the film Rocky Balboa.

Professional career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Tarver made his professional debut at the age of 28 on February 18, 1997, with a second-round knockout of Joaquin Garcia at the legendary "Blue Horizon" in Philadelphia.

Tarver won his first 16 fights,14 by knockout, before stepping up his level of competition. After taking most of his first 16 fights in either his native Florida or at the "Blue Horizon", for his 11th fight he met veteran Rocky Gannon in Chester, West Virginia, on August 30, 1998. Tarver knocked out Gannon in the second round.

On February 29, 2000, Tarver scored a knockout against Ernest M-16 Mateen in Las Vegas. Later that year, Tarver suffered his first loss when he was knocked down in the 11th round by Eric Harding, en route to a unanimous decision on June 23 in Biloxi, Mississippi. This was an IBF title elimination bout, where the winner would face Roy Jones Jr.

In 2002, Tarver defeated former two-weight world champion Reggie Johnson by split decision to win the NABF & USBA light-heavyweight titles, and a guaranteed title shot at Roy Jones. He then scored a fifth round stoppage over Harding in a rematch that was on the undercard of the rematch between Shane Mosely and Vernon Forrest. Tarver was trailing on the scorecards until the 4th round, when he sent Harding to the canvas with a barrage of unanswered power shots; Harding was also floored twice in the 5th round, leading to the stoppage.

Winning the light-heavyweight titles[edit]

On April 26, 2003, Tarver received his first world title shot, when he faced former WBC champion Montel Griffin for the WBC & IBF light-heavyweight titles that had been vacated by Roy Jones Jr., who had gone on to defeat John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title the previous month. After dropping Griffin in the first and last rounds, Tarver was crowned champion after winning a unanimous decision.

Tarver vs Jones I & II[edit]

Next, rather than remain at heavyweight, Jones planned to return to light-heavyweight and regain his belts. Given little chance of winning, Tarver took a weight-drained Jones the distance and lost the fight and WBC title by a majority decision on November 8, 2003, in Las Vegas (Tarver had relinquished the IBF title a few days earlier in anticipation of being unable to make a mandatory defense.)[2]

In a rematch on May 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Tarver upset the odds to regain the WBC title and win the "WBA Super" title by knocking Jones out in the second round. In fifty previous fights, Jones had only been sent to the floor once, leaving most observers shocked at the result.

Rise in popularity[edit]

Tarver became a mainstream celebrity after his rematch win over Jones, making appearances at late-night shows, appearing on the cover of both Ring and KO Magazine, being spotted by television cameras as a spectator at various boxing fights, and co-hosting ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" for one telecast.

Tarver vs Johnson I & II[edit]

Later in 2004, the WBC decided to strip Tarver of the world title after he decided against fighting their mandatory challenger, instead choosing to fight IBF title holder Glencoffe Johnson December 18 in Temecula, California; Tarver had already been removed as Super Champion by the WBA in their July rankings.[3] Interestingly, Johnson himself had been stripped of his IBF title before the bout with Tarver for not fighting his mandatory challenger. Both fighters were celebrated for their decision to fight each other rather than bow to the pressure from what has become known as "The Alphabet Soup" sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF).

Tarver, considered a favorite to win the fight, suffered an upset loss to Johnson by way of a split decision in a fight that he did not appear to be in top shape for. Tarver avenged the loss six months later with a unanimous decision, out-boxing and out-working the aggressive Johnson at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee to regain The Ring championship.

Rubber match against Jones[edit]

In their third fight, Tarver won a unanimous decision over Roy Jones Jr. on October 1, 2005 in Tampa, Florida, almost knocking Jones down in the 11th round but also finding himself in trouble at times during the fight.

Tarver vs Hopkins[edit]

On June 10, 2006, Tarver faced former undisputed world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins for Tarver's The Ring title at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. Hopkins, a 3-to-1 underdog, dominated the fight, outboxing Tarver to win a unanimous decision. The fight was scored 118–109 by all three judges. Tarver was knocked down in the 5th round. As a result of a clause in the fight contract, Tarver was forced to pay $250,000 to a charity of Hopkins' choice since he did not knock Hopkins out before the fifth round. Tarver's record would now stand at 24 wins and 4 losses, with 18 wins coming by way of knockout.

Return to the ring[edit]

Tarver returned to the ring nearly one year after his loss to Hopkins, defeating Albanian-fighter Elvir Muriqi on June 9, 2007 by way of a majority decision. In his next fight, held at Foxwoods Resort Casino on December 1, 2007, Tarver registered a win over Danny Santiago by way of a 4th round TKO.

Tarver then regained the IBF title by outpointing Clinton Woods.

Tarver vs Dawson I & II[edit]

On October 11, 2008, Tarver faced rising star Chad Dawson for Tarver's IBF title. The fight took place at Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Tarver lost the fight via unanimous decision, with wide margins of 118–109 and 117–110 (twice). The outcome was not disputed.

With the loss to Dawson, it was speculated that Tarver may choose to retire; however, he later announced that he and Dawson would meet in a rematch in March 2009.

A rematch with Dawson, originally announced for March 14, 2009, had to be postponed due to an injury suffered by Dawson. Finally, on May 9, the two fighters met at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. Tarver, who came to the fight as a 5:1 underdog, again lost by unanimous decision.

Move up to heavyweight[edit]

Following the rematch loss to Dawson, Tarver took over a year off from the ring, before returning on 15 October 2010 to defeat Nagy Aguilera by 10 round unanimous decision in a bout that took place in the heavyweight division. For this fight Tarver officially weighed 221 lbs, some 46 lbs more than he had weighed for the Dawson rematch.


On 20 July 2011, Tarver took on Australian IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in Tarver's debut in the 200 lb cruiserweight division.

Tarver dominated the fight, knocking Green down in the second round and controlling the majority of the action from there on in. After taking heavy punishment and being saved by the bell at the end of round 9, Green failed to come out for the start of round 10, allowing Tarver to take the victory and the title by TKO.[4]

Failed drug test[edit]

Tarver reportedly tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in his pre-fight urine sample prior to his fight with Kayode, with the tests' results only released publicly after the fight.

Tarver tested positive for a banned substance yet again in his pre-fight urine samples coming into the Cunningham bout, with the tests once again being released after the fight.


Rocky Balboa[edit]

Tarver starred as heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. In the film the current, unpopular, champion Dixon fights former champion Rocky Balboa, who decides to come out of retirement. Dixon wins the match by split decision, and after breaking his hand in the second round of the bout but still managing to stand toe to toe with Rocky for the full 10 rounds, proves to doubters that he has the heart of a champion. The DVD of the movie offers an alternate ending, in which Rocky wins the split decision. Dixon's record before the fight is 33-0 (30 KO). Also on the DVD, the film's writer and director Sylvester Stallone wanted to cast a real boxer in the role of Dixon, as he thought it would be easier to teach a boxer how to act than to teach an actor how to box convincingly. In an August 18, 2010 interview with Stallone on The Howard Stern Show, the director indicated that Tarver refused to film his scene after the MGM had been rented out and filled with people already incurring high costs. In order to get the filming done, Stallone gave Tarver a cut of his own salary and points on the back end which resulted in Stallone making no money on the film.[5]

Commentating with Showtime[edit]

After his loss to Dawson and up to his failed drug test in June, 2012, Tarver served as a boxing analyst for Showtime Championship Boxing.

Amateur career[edit]

  • 1993 and 1995 United States amateur Light Heavyweight champion.
  • 1994 National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight champion
  • Won the Light Heavyweight bronze medal for the United States at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. His results were:
  • Defeated Dmitry Vybornov (Russia) 5–2
  • Defeated David Kowah (Sierra Leone) RSC 1 (2:43)
  • Defeated Enrique Flores (Mexico) RSC 3 (1:54)
  • Lost to Vassiliy Jirov (Kazakhstan) 9–15

Professional boxing record[edit]

31 Wins (22 KOs), 6 Losses, 2 No Contest[6]
Res. Record Opponent Type Round,
Date Location Notes
NC 31-6
2 NC
United States Steve Cunningham SD 12 2015-08-14 United States Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey Originally a split draw; result overturned
after Tarver tested positive for a banned substance.
Win 31–6
1 NC
United States Johnathon Banks TKO 7 (10),
2014-12-11 United States Pechanga Resort and Casino, Temecula, California
Win 30–6
1 NC
United States Mike Sheppard TKO 4 (10),
2013-11-26 United States BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida Won interim NABA heavyweight title.
NC 29–6
1 NC
Nigeria Lateef Kayode ND 12 2012-06-02 United States The Home Depot Center, Carson, California Originally a split draw; result overturned
after Tarver failed a post-fight drug test.
Win 29–6 Australia Danny Green RTD 9 (12),
2011-07-20 Australia Entertainment Centre, Sydney, New South Wales Won IBO cruiserweight title.
Cruiserweight debut.
Win 28–6 Dominican Republic Nagy Aguilera UD 12 2010-10-15 United States Buffalo Run Casino, Miami, Oklahoma
Loss 27–6 United States Chad Dawson UD 12 2009-05-09 United States Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada For IBF light-heavyweight title.
Loss 27–5 United States Chad Dawson UD 12 2008-10-11 United States Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada Lost IBF light-heavyweight title.
Win 27–4 United Kingdom Clinton Woods UD 12 2008-04-12 United States St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida Won IBF light-heavyweight title.
Win 26–4 United States Danny Santiago TKO 4 (12),
2007-12-01 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Win 25–4 Albania Elvir Muriqi MD 12 2007-06-09 United States Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Loss 24–4 United States Bernard Hopkins UD 12 2006-06-10 United States Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Lost The Ring light-heavyweight title.
Win 24–3 United States Roy Jones Jr. UD 12 2005-10-01 United States St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida Retained The Ring light-heavyweight title.
Win 23–3 Jamaica Glen Johnson UD 12 2005-06-18 United States FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee Won The Ring light-heavyweight title.
Loss 22–3 Jamaica Glen Johnson SD 12 2004-12-18 United States Staples Center, Los Angeles, California Lost The Ring light-heavyweight title.
Win 22–2 United States Roy Jones Jr. TKO 2 (12),
2004-05-15 United States Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada Won WBC/WBA(Super)/The Ring/IBO/IBA light-heavyweight titles.

Won Vacant NBA & WBF Light Heavyweight Titles.

Loss 21–2 United States Roy Jones Jr. MD 12 2003-11-08 United States Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada Lost WBC light-heavyweight title.
For WBA(Super)/The Ring light-heavyweight titles.
Win 21–1 United States Montell Griffin UD 12 2003-04-26 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Won vacant WBC/IBF light-heavyweight titles.
Win 20–1 United States Eric Harding TKO 5 (12),
2002-07-20 United States Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Win 19–1 United States Reggie Johnson SD 12 2002-01-25 United States Ramada Plaza, Rosemeont, Illinois Won NABF/USBA light-heavyweight titles.
IBF light-heavyweight eliminator.
Win 18–1 Jamaica Chris Johnson KO 10 (10),
2001-08-03 United States Yakama Legends Casino, Toppenish, Washington
Win 17–1 United States Lincoln Carter TKO 5 (10),
2001-02-24 United States Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida
Loss 16–1 United States Eric Harding UD 12 2000-06-23 United States Grand Casino Biloxi, Biloxi, Mississippi IBF light-heavyweight eliminator.
Win 16–0 United States Ernest Mateen KO 1 (10),
2000-02-29 United States Plaza Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 15–0 Algeria Mohamed Benguesmia TKO 9 (10),
1999-10-02 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 14–0 United States Jerry Williams TKO 5 (10),
1999-06-12 United States Shriner's Auditorium, Wilmington, Massachusetts
Win 13–0 Jamaica Roy Francis TKO 3 (10),
1999-03-27 United States Jai Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida
Win 12–0 United States John Williams KO 4 (12),
1999-02-05 United States Jai Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida
Win 11–0 United States Rocky Gannon TKO 2 (10),
1998-08-30 United States Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, Chester, West Virginia
Win 10–0 United States Jose Luis Rivera RTD 4 (10),
1998-06-23 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 9–0 United States Charles Oliver UD 8 1998-03-24 United States Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi
Win 8–0 United States Boyer Chew TKO 7 (8),
1998-01-17 United States Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 7–0 Jamaica Roy Francis TKO 2 (6),
1997-12-02 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 6–0 United States Benito Fernandez TKO 3 (6),
1997-10-28 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 5–0 United States Berry Butler UD 6 1997-10-04 United States Caesars Atlantic City, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 4–0 United States Shelby Gross TKO 1 (4),
1997-08-12 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 3–0 United States Tracy Barrios TKO 3 (6)
1997-06-21 United States Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
Win 2–0 United States Jason Burrell TKO 3 (4),
1997-04-29 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 1–0 United States Joaquin Garcia TKO 2 (4),
1997-02-18 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Professional debut.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tarver settles for bronze
  2. ^ Jones concedes, will let Tarver enter ring last. Usatoday.Com (2003-11-07). Retrieved on 2012-09-15.
  4. ^ AFP: Tarver stops Green for fifth world title. (2011-07-20). Retrieved on 2012-09-15.
  5. ^ Stallone has another hit – The Howard Stern Show. (2010-08-18). Retrieved on 2012-09-15.
  6. ^ Antonio Tarver' page at Boxrec. Retrieved on 2012-09-15.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Title last held by
Roy Jones Jr.
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion
April 26, 2003 – November 8, 2003
Succeeded by
Roy Jones Jr.
IBF Light Heavyweight Champion
April 26, 2003 – November 5, 2003
Title next held by
Glen Johnson
Preceded by
Roy Jones Jr.
WBA Super Light Heavyweight Champion
May 15, 2004 – July 1, 2004
Succeeded by
Fabrice Tiozzo
as Champion
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion
May 15, 2004 – November 6, 2004
Title next held by
Tomas Adamek
The Ring Light Heavyweight Champion
May 15, 2004 – December 18, 2004
Succeeded by
Glen Johnson
Preceded by
Glen Johnson
The Ring Light Heavyweight Champion
June 18, 2005 – June 10, 2006
Succeeded by
Bernard Hopkins
Preceded by
Clinton Woods
IBF Light Heavyweight Champion
April 12, 2008 – October 11, 2008
Succeeded by
Chad Dawson
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Bernard Hopkins
World Light Heavyweight Champion
IBO Recognition

June 9, 2007 – October 11, 2008
Succeeded by
Chad Dawson