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.
In 2006, Tarver starred as Mason "The
Line" Dixon, the heavyweight champion in the film Rock Balboa.
Tarver made his professional debut at hte age of
28 on February 18, 1997, with a second-round knockout of Joaquin Garcia
at the legendary "Blue Horizon" in Philadelphia.
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.
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
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.
the light heavyweight tiles
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
Tarver vs Jones I & II
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.)
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.