Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Weighing in on Tarver's chances against Woods

TAMPA — The way Antonio Tarver sees it, Clinton Woods doesn't stand a chance when they fight Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

How can he possibly, Tarver continues, considering Woods is taking on the best light heavyweight in the world. The fittest light heavyweight. The prettiest light heavyweight.

"I will win in spectacular fashion," Tarver promises.

Now, the question: Do you believe him?

Well?

Do you?

If you're torn about whether the Tampa resident is really back (trust us, this fight for the IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles is enough of a toss-up; you aren't alone), we give you five reasons you should believe what Tarver says, and five you shouldn't.

Yes, Tarver is back

1. He looks and sounds marvelous

Tarver is not only fit physically but seems to be a more balanced, happy and introspective guy. Yes, he is still as arrogant as ever, but it's toned down and strangely endearing this time around. Maybe it's the influence of trainer Jimmy Williams, one of the nicest guys around.

2. He's the better fighter

If he's on his game and at his best (and really, a fight this big, how can he not be?), he's the more talented fighter. He just needs to use that talent (and jab) to keep Woods off him and set him up for one of those straight lefts.

3. He's fresh, he's so fresh

Minus the loss to Bernard Hopkins, Tarver has never taken a good beat-down in 11 years and 30 fights as a pro. He might be the freshest 39-year-old fighter on the planet. Woods has gone 12 hard ones with Glen Johnson three times and twice with Julio Cesar Gonzalez since 2003 and looks it.

4. Tuning up

Yeah, it wasn't pretty to watch, but Tarver took a pair of tune-up fights after the loss to Hopkins, proceeding slowly while he regained his mojo. It was a smart move, and he looked better in the second fight than the first, another good sign. After filming Rocky Balboa, Tarver jumped right into an ill-advised fight with Hopkins and wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. Or he was just ducking champ Chad Dawson? Definitely one of the two.

5. St. Pete Times Forum

The place is magic for the locals. Jeff Lacy became a star here by knocking out Robin Reid in 2005. Two months later, Tarver beat the great Roy Jones, while on the same card current lightweight champ Nate Campbell saved his career by stunning hot prospect Almazbek Raiymkulov. And Winky Wright beat Ike Quartey in 2006. Just saying.

No, Tarver is not back

1. Echo chamber

Tarver says he has never had a better camp and is as fit as ever. We've heard that before … where was it again? Oh yeah, right before the Hopkins fight. (Just once we'd like to hear a fighter say he had a terrible camp and will you check out these love handles?)

2. Get off my lawn

Fighters get old. Sometimes overnight. And they are really bad at admitting it. Maybe that night was when Hopkins beat him in 2006. It's hard to tell if Tarver has anything left in the tank considering the quality, or lack thereof, of his last two opponents. Heck, since that 2004 KO of Jones, what has he done that made anyone say wow?

3. Excuses, excuses

Tarver blamed the loss to Hopkins on his stint in Hollywood. Then he said he was poisoned. Then he claimed that martians replaced his gloves that night with black holographs. (Okay, so we made that last one up.) But are the excuses a sign of a faded fighter who can't admit it (see: Jones)?

4. Weight and see

Remember when Jones went up to heavyweight and was never the same when he came back down, the yo-yo weight issue wrecking his body? Well, Jones beat John Ruiz weighing 226; Tarver says he weighed 235 for Rocky.

5. Year of the upset

Paul Williams. Juan Diaz. Andy Lee. Kassim Ouma. Cory Spinks. Antonio Tarver?

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com or (813) 909-4612.

>>FAST FACTS

Tarver vs. Woods

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa

TV: Showtime

Weighing in on Tarver's chances against Woods 04/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2008 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon

    Blogs

    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017

    Blogs

    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire

    Blogs

    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.