ANTONIO TARVER IBF & WBC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION MEDIA DAY TRANSCRIPT, OCTOBER 21, 2003 TAMPA, FL
They’ve been doing that my whole career (talking down to me), since ’96. I’m not supposed to the unified champion. This is not how the script is supposed to go. Through my determination and will, we continue to prove the naysayers wrong in everything that I’ve proved in my career.
Coming out of the ’96 Olympics, I didn’t have a big-time manager or promoter. I was the most sought after and the best boxer going into the ’95 Olympics. I was slated to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. Out of the Olympics, I had one bad decision and they felt my talents didn’t warrant the signing bonus or the attention I felt that I deserved. The rest of my Olympic teammates, they went on.
I had to slow myself down a little bit and pull myself together. I belong and the last thing I want to do is have those critics prove themselves right about Antonio Tarver. We’ve done everything to show them that they painted the wrong picture. I wasn’t that guy.
Here today I stand here as the unified light heavyweight champion. And my first defense out of the box, bring on the man. Roy Jones, Jr. The guy with all of the accolades. The guy that is supposed to be unbeatable and invincible and unstoppable. Bring him on.
This is what I’m made of. It is a risk I don’t mind taking because this is the business I’m in. Because I know what a victory over Roy Jones gives me. That’s what I want. That’s how I’ve seen myself for years and that’s how I’ve painted this picture. This isn’t something that’s happened over the last three years. It’s something that I’ve known since I took my first run in 1988.
The ambitions of capturing that Gold Medal that eluded Roy Jones Jr. in 1988 in Seoul Korea in the Olympic games. I knew then that I was the only man that could get the job done. And on November 8th I’ll show the world.
I wasn’t ready, so God doesn’t make any mistakes. I wasn’t ready when I fought Eric Harding. I wasn’t ready for everything that was supposed to come to me. The Gold Medal in ’96. I had to look inside. I had to do some soul searching. And God wanted to know, how bad do you want this, son? What are you willing to go through to get it? I told him, anything! Just set the stage for me.
I don’t know what Roy’s trying to do. I’m not paying any attention to that. I’m ready and as you can see, I’m hungry. I don’t blame the man for wanting to fight Tyson. He hasn’t been focused on boxing in some time now. For six years. That’s not the Mike Tyson we all know and love. He’s only a shell of himself. If he wants to go for an easy payday, he has a great chance of beating mike Tyson. You can’t say the same about Antonio Tarver. This time, for the first time in your career Roy Jones Jr., the risk outweighs the reward.
Deep down in Roy Jones’ heart, he knows that. He knows that.
When November 9th gets here, I’ll have a reason to be emphatic. I’ll have a reason to shout with joy. Believe in yourself and follow your dream. It will come true. I am witness to that.
No concern. We have a binding contract. This clown wants to make all kinds of excuses and put a damper on my parade. As long as he shows up on November 8th and I don’t care if they bring him in on a throne. The same people that bring him in are going to have to carry his ass on out of there.
I’m ready and I’m determined to show the world on November 8th. I’m going to rewrite the book, baby.
It doesn’t matter as long as I believe. And the people that believe in me.
The experts have been proven wrong a whole lot of times in boxing. It’s just going to be another time.
Will you bet?
I don’t have time to be focused like that. All of the money will come to me. It’s going to come in ten folds after November 8th. The opportunity outweighs the reward. To be great and to go down as one of the best fighters of this era. I’m satisfied with that.
I’m focused. I’ve been training for this fight my whole life. All my life.
You fought Roy in the Sunshine State Games in 1984?
I beat him in the first round handily. He stayed and laid his back on the ropes the whole entire time. I busted him up to the body and to the head. The second round he got the best of me. The third round he danced like he normally does. And he won a split decision.
It shows my determination and my will. I’m what champions are made of. I am the American Dream.
What makes Antonio Tarver different than the other 49 people?
The majority of those people came for the payday. I’m coming to make Roy Jones pay. That’s the difference. My talent and my skill and my God-given ability. They can think of no one that ever dominated Antonio Tarver. In my whole career, name one fighter that dominated Antonio Tarver in that ring. You can’t. That’s what I’m holding on to.
I’ve been doing this since 1979. You don’t look like this with all of my years of boxing without knowing what you’re doing.
Are you getting Roy in his prime?
I’m getting him. You tell me if he’s in his prime or not. I don’t know. He looked damn good against Ruiz didn’t he?
He’s facing the most dangerous fighter he’s ever faced. Bar none. As far as being defensive. I’m going to destroy him. I’m a hungry fighter. A hungry fighter that’s determined to destroy him. I won’t stop until I’m victorious on November 8th. He’s facing the most dangerous fighter he could face. Roy Jones has always known what Antonio Tarver’s capabilities were. You can write it any way you want but you can’t see me through Roy Jones Jr.’s eyes. And no one can see him through mine. Fighters know each other. He knows my determination. He knows my ability. A slick confident southpaw with power in both hands. A defensive wizard and a guy that knows his way around that ring. I’m no Richard Frazier, I’m no Michelchewski. I am a guy that is seasoned through the amateurs, dominated at all levels and I came back and took the biggest risk of all when I didn’t have to. That’s face Eric Harding, the one considered the second best heavyweight in the world, not because he got a wing over Antonio Tarver but because of his competitive fight with Roy Jones, Jr.
I came back and I destroyed Eric Harding. That in itself speaks volumes. I fought this guy when I didn’t have to. If I was one of these other pretenders I would have sat back and said, “Please Roy Jones, give me an opportunity.”
It didn’t happen that way. I took the risk. I came back and set that record straight. I’m undefeated as far as I’m concerned because everybody knew I was ill prepared in the first Eric Harding fight. It took a broken jaw, because I was winning on all scorecards at the time of the broken jaw. I would have gone on to win that fight had that broken jaw not happened.
It wasn’t my time. I had to take three steps back in order to go forward.
In come Buddy McGirt Charles Muniz and John Hornewer. Now we are equipped, with the dream team, to push forward. God said we are not going to have you come in as another mandatory challenger. We are going to have you step in the ring as the unified light heavyweight champion. He’s coming for your titles now.
The roles have been reversed. So this is the way it should have been. So I’m ready to take that step forward. I’m battle tested.
What about Jimmy Williams, previous trainer?
I love Jimmy Williams and I always will. I’ll always carry him in there with me. Now Buddy McGirt, another great trainer, is schooling me. I have no hard feelings. Jimmy Williams will always be with me.
I would like to go on record for thanking Buddy for not leaving. The bad words and the bad comments that other trainers and people in the business have laid upon me. Saying that I wasn’t coachable, that I was a head case. That I wasn’t focused. Wasn’t determined. They said everything. But Buddy McGirt said, you know what? A guy doesn’t get as far as he got without having those things. So I’m just fortunate that he gave himself a chance to know the man without listening to the naysayers. I would like to personally thank Buddy McGirt for that and, hey, we’ve knocked over some big walls sine we’ve hooked up.
We have a big wall in front of us and we are determined to break that down. We’ve dominated the world as a light heavyweight. We ran Roy Jones out of the division. Now he’s coming back to claim his so-called titles.
Buddy and I just see eye-to-eye. Everyone is here for one reason. To be victorious. Buddy is a student of the game. He is a great tape-watcher and he knows how to dissect fighters. He understands the strengths and the weaknesses of our opponents. We work and we calculate how we can offset the advantages of our opponent. I think Buddy is a mastermind when it comes to that.
Who will enter the ring first?
For me to have to sit here and defend my status as champion is unheard of. I think it’s a shame for boxing for them to even try to sugarcoat this matter. It’s an outcry. Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, he came in last when he fought Joe Frazier and there was no name bigger than Ali at the time. He hadn’t lost his championship in the ring. They stripped him of his title. But he stepped up in there because he has respect for the boxing game. Unlike Roy Jones, Jr.
This guy has been crying over spilled milk ever since the ’88 Olympics. The media has been pacifying this bumpkin. And it’s ridiculous. Me sitting here defending myself about who is going to come in first and who is going to come in last.
I’m coming in last because I’m the unified champion. He had three opportunities to defend against me. 3 times he opted out of it. So who should come in last? Give me my respect. My prerequisites as champion, I deserve it. I earned it in the ring, unlike Roy Jones, who went out and purchased it. He didn’t want to walk in the ring without his belt.
If he wants to come in last, tell him to put the WBA championship up. The heavyweight title. We can fight for that.
He’s not angering me. I’ve been ready. I’m not angry. I’m ready to take my rightful spot in the boxing game. I’m ready to be crowned. This is long overdue.