Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Former boxing champ Antonio Tarver arrested in Pinellas

Antonio Tarver, who has made millions in the ring as a championship-level professional boxer, was arrested in Clearwater on Saturday night on a warrant from Nevada accusing him of passing a worthless check, according to an arrest report.

Tarver, 45, a native of Orlando who lives in Lutz, was arrested by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper on U.S. 19 and Sunset Point Road about 10:30 p.m. on a Clark County warrant related to passing a check with insufficient funds, according to the affidavit. Details of the charge were not available Sunday.

Clark County is where Las Vegas is located.

Saturday's arrest is the latest setback in Tarver's successful, but tumultuous decadeslong career that includes 30 professional victories and six losses, according to ESPN.

Tarver's family could not be reached for comment Sunday.

On his official website, Tarver's career is described as "a series of professional ups and downs." As a youngster, he battled drug problems and lost during the qualifying rounds for the Olympics in 1992. But in 1996, at the age of 27, he qualified and was part of the U.S. boxing team, bringing home a bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics.

Tarver, known as the "Magic Man," continued boxing after that, eventually challenging Roy Jones Jr. as a professional. He lost their first encounter in 2003, but won two followup bouts with Jones.

Throughout his career, Tarver won several titles, both as a heavyweight and as a light-heavyweight, including from the International Boxing Federation, the International Boxing Organization and the North American Boxing Federation.

Despite his first victory against Jones in 2004, Tarver filed for bankruptcy that same year, owing more than $900,000 to several entities, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and Don King Productions, according to court records.

More trouble for the boxer came in 2012 when he tested positive for steroids, according to ESPN. He was suspended from boxing for a year.

His latest professional fight was a November victory over Mike Sheppard in Sunrise.

"I've gotten to being a five-time champion by having the will and the determination to bounce back when everyone else has pretty much counted you out," Tarver told the Tampa Bay Times in 2012. "That's really been the story of my life and career. I take pride in that."

Beyond the boxing ring, Tarver also played heavyweight boxing champion Mason "The Line" Dixon in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa and has served as a commentator for Showtime Sports Boxing. He also has served as a guest commentator for ESPN's Friday Night Fights.

Tarver lives in a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home on Van Dyke Road in Lutz worth more than $715,000, property records show.

He remained at the Pinellas County Jail on Sunday without bail.

Times staff writer Greg Auman and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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