After over a year away from the ring, Antonio Tarver made an impressive, yet slightly questionable return to the boxing world Tuesday on Fox Sports 1. Though known for his success at light heavyweight, Tarver decided to fight at heavyweight in his return. He defeated Mike Sheppard with a fourth-round TKO.
Tarver did not look too bad during in his first fight since June 2012, a match that ended in a no-contest. A post-fight drug test revealed a banned substance in Tarver’s system, which forced him to sit out for over a year.
Minus his poor physique, Tarver looked decent in his heavyweight debut. Albeit he was fighting a journeyman at best, Tarver looked sharp and decently quick. It took about two rounds before Tarver started getting into the groove. After that, he made short work of Sheppard to earn the interim NABA heavyweight title.
For a 45-year-old, Tarver couldn’t have asked for a better start. Now the question at hand is Tarver’s hopes and dreams at this point in his career. During his pre-fight interview, Tarver said he was aiming for Klitschkos (Wladimir for certain) and will be ready to fight one of them in one to two years. It is well documented that fighters are the most overconfident people in the world, but this is a little much.
In his prime, Tarver was a great, dominant fighter. There is no one questioning that, but to claim you have the ability to beat the Klitschkos within one to two years is ludicrous. He may get used to fighting at heavyweight within that amount of time, but defeating either Klitschko is a reach.
Tarver is also fighting father time at this point in his career. Not everyone can be Bernard Hopkins and fight off age until they’re 50. Tarver will be around for a while, but it’s hard to believe that he will reach championship status in the heavyweight division.