Boxing Insider Notebook: Tarver, De La Hoya, Hernandez, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 16th to May 23rd; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Antonio Tarver Credits USA Boxing for Giving Him Structure That Carried Him to the Top
Future Hall of Famer Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver (31-6-1, 1 NC, 22 KOs) has just about done it all as a boxer having been an Olympic medal winner and world champion as an amateur, along with capturing five major light heavyweight world titles as a professional, as well as a pair of The Ring magazine’s top honors, and four other world championships in two different divisions.
“I credit USA Boxing for giving me structure for the first time in my life,” Tarver explained. “Everything was scheduled; curfew, eating, training, sleep….everything! I then understood that I had to be accountable for everything I did. I had talent, but I wasn’t structured, and that was bigger than me. I had to adjust to authority. My determination took off, giving me support I never had before. I went on to make speaking engagements and get sponsors. I broke barriers. I’ve been the best at every level that I fought at in the world.”
Tarver was a highly decorated amateur who had an amazing 158-12 record. He is the only boxer to capture gold medals at World Amateur Championships, U.S. National Championships and Pan-American Games in the same year (1995). The Orlando, Florida-born southpaw won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, losing in the quarterfinals to future world champion Vassiliy Jirov, who Tarver had defeated in the semifinals of the 1995 World Amateur Championships. Tarver also won top honors at the 1994 National Golden Gloves Tournament and 1995 World Championships Challenge.
“I went on a winning roll in 1995 and went into the Olympics in rare form,” Tarver said. “And that’s why I was favored to win a gold medal. I was hitting him (Jirov), the same guy I’d beaten in the World Championships, but no points were registering for me. I had a good second round, but I was down three points, so I threw my game plan away in the third round. I felt I had to do more and got away from my style: counter punching, not getting hit, and being patient. I thought I had won and so did a lot of people. I made up for that, though, with a gold-medal professional career.
“I had been faced with a decision about going pro after I was beaten in the ’92 Olympic Trials. I decided to stay in the amateurs, despite not having any guarantees about making the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team. I sacrificed four years of my pro career, which is why I turned pro at a relatively late age (27). I was determined when I found out the 1996 Olympics were in Atlanta. I think I made the right decision and I have no regrets.
“I had always dreamed of going to the Olympics. I saw Roy Jones, Jr – we first fought each other at 13 – get robbed of gold. I was watching that on television, jumped up, and knew where I was heading: The Olympics! We both suffered horrible decisions in the Olympics and I knew then that our careers would be parallel.
Tarver made his pro debut February 18, 1997 in Philadelphia, stopping Joaquin Garcia (4-0) in the second round.
“I was an Olympic bronze medal winner but when I first turned pro,” Tarver added, “I didn’t have a promoter or manager. Nobody was willing to take a chance on me until I was 4-0, when I signed by first contract with Russell Peltz. I felt nobody could beat me.”
Nobody was able to beat Tarver, at least until his 17th pro fight, when Eric Harding defeated Tarver by way of a 12-round unanimous decision.
Two years later, Tarver embarked on a 12-fight murderer’s row stretch during the next seven years, arguably establishing him as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It all started with a successful rematch with Harding (21-1-1) in Indianapolis, when Tarver dropped Harding in the fourth round, plus twice more in the fifth, on his way to a fifth-round technical knockout to avenge his lone pro loss to that date.
Next up for Tarver was a showdown with 44-3 Montell Griffin for the WBC and IBF 175-pound division titles, which were vacated by Roy Jones Jr., April 26, 2003 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. In his first world title shot as a pro, Tarver pitched a complete shutout, decking Griffin in the first and last rounds to shut out his opponent by scores of 120-103 from all three judges.
Seven months later, however, Tarver lost a controversial 12-round majority decision and his WBC crown (he was stripped of his IBF belt) to WBA Super and IBO champion Jones in Las Vegas. The following May at the venue, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, though, Tarver became the first to knockout Jones, putting him to sleep in the second round.
Tarver then became a mainstream celebrity, appearing on late-night shows and covers of The Ring magazine and KO Magazine, and co-hosting an ESPN Friday Night Fights telecast.
“I was robbed in my first fight with Roy,” Tarver insisted. “They called my knockout of Roy the greatest upset in light heavyweight history. Why didn’t they see me coming? I had beaten everybody ranked ahead of me. Roy was the pound-4-pound king, but he knew. I may not be the fastest, the quickest, or the strongest, but I doubt that there’s ever been a pro fighter to enter the ring with a higher IQ than me. Even at my age, I still feel that way today.”
The WBC stripped Tarver of his title in 2004 for fighting IBF champion Glen Johnson (41-9-2) instead of the WBC mandatory challenger. Johnson, ironically, was stripped of his IBF title for the same reason right before his fight in Los Angeles with Tarver. Tarver and Johnson fought for The Ring and IBO titles and Johnson won a 12-round split decision.
In their rematch six months later in Memphis, Tarver won a unanimous 12-round decision over Johnson to capture the IBO strap. Tarver completed his trilogy with Jones, retaining his IBO title with a unanimous 12-round decision (117-111, 116-112, 116-112).
Tarver lost a 12-round decision June 10, 2006 in Atlantic City to Bernard Hopkins for the IBO championship, which was soon vacated and recaptured by Tarver with a 12-round majority decision over Elvir Muriqi (34-3).
Tarver traveled to Australia in 2011 to challenge IBO cruiserweight champion and local hero Danny Green, who retired after nine rounds, as Tarver added another title belt to his display case.
In December of 2013 in Temecula, California, Tarver knocked out Jonathon Banks (29-2-1) in the seventh round, and Tarver’s last fight was a 12-round split decision draw with former world champion Steve Cunningham (28-7) in Newark, New Jersey.
In 2006, Tarver starred as Mason “The Line” Dixon, the heavyweight champion in the film, Rocky Balboa.
Tarver, as he marches towards his planned history-making performance by becoming the oldest heavyweight world champion of all-time, also has served as a color commentator in boxing for Spike TV and Showtime.
Today, at the age of 49, Tarver is still technically active, and he also trains his son and undefeated middleweight prospect, Antonio Tarver, Jr. (5-0 (4 KOs), where they live in Tampa, Florida.
“I was older than the rest of the boxers on the U.S. Olympic Team and the U.S. National Team,” Tarver remarked. “What a team! Guys like Diego Corrales and Zab Judah didn’t make that Olympic Team. I gave Floyd Mayweather, Jr. his first moniker, ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, until he changed it years later to ‘Money’. We had a bond on that Olympic team with Floyd, Fernando Vargas, David Reid, Zarim Raheem and the others.”
Although at the age of 49 he is still an active fighter, Tarver occassionally does some color commentating and he trains pro and amateur boxers at a gym in Tampa, Florida. “I’m not retired as a fighter,” Tarver commented. “I started a program, ‘Train with The Champ’, and it includes room rent and training. I like to say it’s an AirB&B for boxing. I train my son (5-0 middleweight Antonio Tarver, Jr. there. I learned a lot from my early days, training in Orlando with my coach, Lou Harris, and I reunited with Jimmy Williams, who is 90 now, training my son together in Tampa.
Tarver also is an advocate of the relatively new “USA Boxing Alumni Association,” which was created to champion a lifelong, mutually beneficial relations between USA Boxing and its alumni, –boxers, officials, coaches and boxing fans — the Alumni Association connects generations of champions, inspiring and giving back to USA Boxing’s future boxing champions, in and out of the ring.
“I’m going online to join,” Tarver said. “I’m looking forward to attending an Alumni Association meeting, June 24-30 during the Junior Olympics in Charleston, West Virginia.
Everything that goes around, comes around, in USA Boxing. Just ask future Hall of Fame candidate Antonio Tarver.
Oscar De La Hoya Delivers Keynote Address to International Sports Marketing and Media Executives
Boxing legend, businessman and philanthropist Oscar De La Hoya kicked off the SPORTELSummit 2018 as the keynote speaker May 16 in Miami Beach before an exclusive audience of decision makers from the international sports marketing and media industries that shape the business for tomorrow.
As the keynote for SPORTELSummit 2018,De La Hoya shared insights from his decades of fighting, from winning the Gold medal at the ’92 Barcelona Summer Olympics to reaching the top of boxing’s professional ranks as one of the best fighters in recent history. De La Hoya transitioned successfully from fighting upon retiring in 2009 to lead his company, Golden Boy Promotions, as one of boxing’s best and most respected promoters around the world. De La Hoya has been at the forefront of moving the sport of boxing into the digital age, having launched Golden Boy Media and Entertainment in 2015, a new division of his company devoted to live streaming and delivering engaging, timely content on the sport to online audiences around the world.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be part of some of the biggest sporting events in recent history, whether as the athlete or promoter on the business side, and I’m pleased to share my experiences from those opportunities and how I’ve built a successful boxing promotions company with other decision makers in the sports business world at SPORTEL Summit 2018,” said De La Hoya.
De La Hoya continued, “I created Golden Boy Media and Entertainment in response to consumers seeking more live boxing content online. Golden Boy Media and Entertainment was the first to record fights in virtual reality and broadcast live in virtual reality. Because of the changes and new ideas Golden Boy Media and Entertainment is bringing to the boxing world, we are beginning to see a shift in the sport. Other boxing promoters followed our lead and are implementing our ideas in their own ways.They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I couldn’t agree more.”
A superstar whose popularity transcends boxing, De La Hoya is known around the world not only as one of the best fighters of his era, but as an elite promoter, Grammy-nominated singer, active philanthropist and astute businessman. Over the course of his boxing career, he was an Olympic gold medalist, 10-time world champion in six divisions and among the biggest draws in the history of the sport. Since retiring from the ring in 2009, De La Hoya has focused his attention on building the company he founded, Golden Boy Promotions, into one of the most successful boxing promotion companies in the world. He runs Golden Boy Promotions as its Chairman and CEO from Los Angeles, representing some of the best fighters in the sport today include Canelo Alvarez, a three-time world champion in two weight classes and the current Pay Per View king of the sport in the US.
Nico Hernandez Captures IBA Flyweight World Title
History was made this past Saturday night on the “SUPERBOX LIVE: High Stakes” pay-per-view card, when 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and local hero, Nico Hernandez, knocked out Hungarian challenger Szilveszter “The Silent Assassin” Kanalas in the opening round to capture the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Flyweight World Championship in only his fifth professional fight, at Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
In the first world title fight ever held in Kansas, Hernandez (5-0, 4 KOs) overwhelmed Kanalas (14-7, 9 KOs), the former World Boxing Federation (WBF) super flyweight world champion, to become the youngest (22) IBA world champion ever, as well as setting the record for the fewest pro fights needied to become IBA world titlist.
SUPERBOX LIVE: High Stakes was launched as Super Channel’s new live boxing series, SUPERBOX LIVE, in association with KO Night Boxing LLC, and it aired live exclusively in Canada on Super Channel.
Integrated Sports Media distributed “SUPERBOX LIVE: High Stakes” in the United States on cable, satellite and digital pay-per-view as it was live-streamed worldwide on FITE.TV app and website (excluding Canada).
Hernandez was aggressive from the opening bell, pounding Kanalas’ head and body. A Hernandez left hook to the body really hurt Kanalas, who went down from a right that followed the vicious liver shot. Kanalas beat Hall of Fame Steve Smoger’s count, and it was only a matter of time before Hernandez would end the fight. It came soon, right after another body-and-head combination put the over-matched Hungarian on the mat for the second and final time.
“A lot of people underestimate my power,” Hernandez said after the fight. “I believe that once he felt my power, I don’t think he wanted it anymore. I felt like I took his heart away. I was patient, I wanted it to go a few rounds to see what he had, but I took his heart away. I can’t really be disappointed because I am a world champion now.”
“Nico was explosive Saturday night and he showed killer instinct,” promoter John Andersen commented. “He was going to box, but I think he smelled fear, and Nico got into Kanalas’ head. He sensed it and jumped on him.”
Before he left the ring, Hernandez took the microphone in the center of the ring and called out three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic bronze medalist, “Irish” Paddy Barnes (5-0, 1 KO), who was the favored to win a gold medal in the flyweight division at the 2016 Olympics. He was eliminated in the round of 16 and Hernandez took home the bronze medal. “There’s a bronze medalist from (Northern) Ireland, Paddy Barnes, and that’s who I’d really love to fight.”
“I think that’s a fight we should start a conversation about,” Andersen remarked. “It’s not line Barnes is 21 (he’s 31) and I don’t know of a lot of 30 or older flyweights. It makes a lot of sense and can be a big fight. They’re both Olympic bronze medalist, already fought in scheduled 10 and 12 round fights, and have belts. (Barnes is the WBO Intercontinental flyweight champ). Nico needs to step up in terms of competition, too. I think they should get in the ring and then we can see what happens.
“If they don’t want to make this fight right away, maybe we can build it up by putting them on the same card, and then fight next year. This fight makes a lot of sense for both fighters and Nico has already said he wants to fight Barnes.”
Hernandez joined reigning IBA world champions, light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev and junior middleweight Mark DeLuca, as well as past IBA world champions such as Hall of Famers Oscar de la Hoya, George Foreman, Roberto Duran and Arturo Gatti, in addition to stars Roy Jones, Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosely, James Toney, Mikkel Kessler, Eric Morales, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver.
2011 Russia Junior Championships gold medalist Andrey Afonin (6-0, 3 KOs) kept his undefeated record in tact when Pedro “El Reguilete” Rodriguez (23-4, 19 KOs), the Cuban native and former World Boxing Association (WBA) Fedalatin cruiserweight champion, was unable to answer the bell in the third round of the co-featured event.
Unbeaten Ukrainian heavyweight Oleksandr Teslenko (13-0, 11 KOs), promoted by DiBella Entertainment and fighting out of Toronto, stopped Terrance “Big Jim” Marbra (9-6, 7 KOs) in the second round.
Undefeated Washington featherweight Victor Morales, Jr. (9-0, 5 KOs) was too much for David Berna (15-4, 14 KOs), of Hungary, who complained of an elbow injury and lost by way of a second-round technical knockout, in the televised opener.
In the television swing bout, which was held prior to the main event, popular Wichita junior welterweight Jeff Strum (3-0, 2 KOs) kept the train rollin’ with a second-round knockout of Nigeria-native Archie Weah (2-11).
In the most competitive fight of the night, as well as the lone match that went the complete distance, St. Louis cruiserweight Leroy Jones (3-3, 2 KOs) won a four-round unanimous decision over Kansas City, KS favorite Chris Harris (2-3-2, 2 KOs).
EverybodyFights Partners with Aaptiv to Bring Its In-Gym Boxing Fitness Experience to Everyone
EverybodyFights, an award-winning boxing gym, announced today a partnership with Aaptiv, a leading provider of premium digital health and wellness content. As part of the partnership, EverybodyFights, which was founded by George Foreman III, son of the two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman Sr., has created audio-guided classes exclusively for Aaptiv that are modeled after its in-gym experience and based on a real fighter’s training camp.
The classes will make up an entire “Train Like a Boxer” program and will be part of Aaptiv’s new collection of boxing workouts, which are now live on the Aaptiv app. The program is based on a real fighter’s cross training regimen that includes shadowboxing, bag work, strength training, cardio conditioning, and yoga. All of the EverybodyFights audio-guided classes are led by the gym’s certified instructors, including George Foreman III, who retired from professional boxing with a perfect 16-0 record.
“Our mission is to unleash the inner fighter in everyone, at home and in the gym, and Aaptiv gives us the unique ability to make authentic boxing training accessible to the masses,” said George Foreman III. “Bringing boxing to users through audio is a challenge that requires partnering with the best, and we knew Aaptiv was the perfect partner for EverybodyFights because they are the best.”
Aaptiv members have unlimited access to the EverybodyFights boxing program, which they can use for training at home or in a gym.
“We’re focused on continuing to offer our members new, world-class workout content and are excited to officially launch boxing classes with the help of EverybodyFights,” said Aaptiv CEO and founder Ethan Agarwal. “We know our members will love the workout program because EverybodyFights’ incredible training camp pairs perfectly with audio, making it easier than ever to train like a boxer.”
Aaptiv’s entire boxing collection is available now and includes comprehensive training on foundational boxing technique, high intensity workouts, fun and inspiring playlists, and recovery and mindfulness instruction for rest days. To learn more and to download the app, visit Aaptiv.com/everybodyfights.