Less than three weeks before Antonio Tarver steps into the ring to continue his campaign at cruiserweight by taking on the unbeaten power puncher Lateef Kayode, the “Magic Man” held an open workout on Tuesday before a packed house of his hometown media at Calta’s 24/7 Fitness.
Tarver vs. Kayode will headline “Four Warned,” a stacked night of boxing on SHOWTIME® featuring four high-stakes prizefights. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will air live at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) on Saturday, June 2 from The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Joining Tarver at the workout on Tuesday was his good friend Ronald “Winky” Wright, who will fight in the co-main event, making his return to the ring against rising star “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin.
After a storied career at light heavyweight, Tarver (29-6, 20 KO’s), of Tampa, Fla., made an emphatic debut in the cruiserweight division last summer. The Magic Man headed to Sydney, Australia and stopped hometown favorite Danny Green (RTD 9) on July 20, 2011 to capture the IBO cruiserweight title. Wright (51-5-1, 25 KO’s), of St. Petersburg, Fla., will return to the ring for the first time since April 11, 2009. He faces Quillin (26-0, 20 KO’s), who will risk his unblemished record.
Kayode (18-0, 14 KO’s), who is trained by the acclaimed Freddie Roach, is not only taking the biggest leap in competition in his career, but he is also facing a man who knows him very well. Tarver has been ringside providing expert analysis for all five of the Nigerian-born Kayode’s appearances on ShoBox: The New Generation.
Here’s what Tarver and Wright had to say on Tuesday:
“This guy is predicting he’ll knock me out in the fifth round. If Kayode comes in with that type of recklessness, he can be out before that because he has never been hit by someone who can punch as hard as me. And not just punching hard, I’m a sharpshooter. I punch organs. I target organs: liver, kidney, heart. I don’t just punch mass, I punch organs and I punch that chin. Remember that the chin is not a muscle so you can have all the muscles surrounding your neck and body, chest and abs, because if I touch that chin the right way, it’s lights out, baby.
“There are no more guys like myself. Shane Mosley lost. Bernard Hopkins lost. I’m the last Mohican. I’m the last guy who is 40-plus.
“We have a storyline here: A young guy who took offense to what I was saying as a commentator. I was just doing my job. I think the youth, the inexperience got the best of him. He’s got his handlers saying that he’s ready to roll the dice. But you’ve got to respect his position. He’s a young fighter coming up that has nothing to lose. So Kayode is in a beautiful position and if he loses to me, what has it done? It’s going to set him back a little bit but he can regroup. I can’t regroup if I lose to Lateef Kayode. There would be an asterisk and a question mark by my name and we can’t have that.
“He’s only got two hands and he can’t throw them but one at a time. We’re going to simplify it. I’ve fought a lot of strong guys that didn’t get lucky, that couldn’t hit me, couldn’t find me. So he’s coming in here trying to get lucky. I’m coming in here to rely on my skills, my experience and my conditioning to win this fight. I’ll take Kayode places he’s never been. And that’s in deep waters. He’s never been in there with a fighter like me and I’m going to show him what it’s all about.
“This is what sparring is all about. I’ve got young guys in here. I don’t have any old punching bags in here. Because if I can’t get it done in the gym, I can’t get it done June 2.
“We’re putting everyone on notice. Expect the unexpected. Kayode said the fight is going to end, that he’s going to knock me out in the fifth round. He might have a good prediction in the fifth round but I think he’s got the storyline a little twisted.
“We’re in a phone booth in camp. That’s definitely what we think the fight will represent, a phone booth. We like it in close quarters. I’m too old to run.
“I had a chance to commentate a few of his fights and he didn’t like the things I was saying. But as a young fighter, you can’t always feed them cake and ice cream. Sometimes you’ve got to put something in the back of his head so he could say, ‘You know what? Maybe there is something I can go back and work on.
“It’s about skill and I got it. We’re not going to wait for anyone to tell us how great we are because if you wait for someone to give you a compliment, you’ll be waiting forever and a day. We know who we are and we are going to continue to display it. We’re going to kill our critics with success. We got the skill, us throwback fighters. And I’m a throwback fighter because I’m older now, I’m sitting down [on my punches] more and I’m a fan friendly fighter.
“What keeps the fire burning? Critics, naysayers and my own personal achievement. People can laugh now when I tell them I’m going to become heavyweight champion. They don’t want to buy into it but they will because at 210 pounds, I’m elusive. I’m powerful. I’m strong and they can’t hit what they can’t see. I’m not a big, robotic fighter that can’t move. So those are they’re advantages. The only hope they got is to hit me on the chin and knock me out. And that’s never been done before. .
“I’m going to get that heavyweight title. Wladimir Klitschko, here I come. I’m going to get that heavyweight title. That’s coming back to America, baby. Trust it. Stamp it. Write it down.”
On making his return to the ring on a card with friend and fellow Floridian Antonio Tarver:
“It feels good. It makes it easy. To have your homeboy on the same card, we go out there and kick some butt. You know me.
“Young guys, young guys. Inexperience and all of that. The nervousness is getting to them and they want to prove this and prove that. The only time you’ve got to prove something is in the ring.
“Fans cans expect a great fight. They can come to see Winky Wright knock Kid Chocolate’s head off – not knock him out – knock his head off. He thinks I’m going to run? We’ll see. I’m going to show him a fight.”