Antonio Tarver 4 x light heavyweight and IBO cruiserweight World champion and co-star of Rocky Bolboa SIGNED action shot 8" x 10" photo.
Condition excellent (signature signed in blue sharpie on dark background. However, still clearly visible)
Antonio Deon Tarver (born November 21, 1968), nicknamed the "Magic Man", from Orlando, Florida, who is the former Ring light heavyweight champion and former IBF, WBC and IBO light heavyweight champion. He stands at 6' 2" and was the first man to beat Roy Jones Jr (Aside from a disputed loss to Montell Griffin, via disqualification). He built an impressive amateur career, including winning a bronze medal while representing the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He captured the World title at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Berlin, just two months after having triumphed at the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata. In 2006, Tarver starred as Mason "The Line" Dixon, the heavyweight division champion in the film Rocky Balboa. Additionally, Tarver played in the Main Event at the 2007 World Series of Poker.
Professional Career - Early years
Tarver made his professional debut at the age of 28 on February 18, 1997, with a second-round knockout of Joaquin Garcia at the legendary "Blue Horizon" in Philadelphia.
Tarver won his first 10 fights, eight by knockout, before stepping up his level of competition. After taking most of his first 10 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. On February 29, 2000, Tarver fought Ernest Mateen, who had previously fought and lost to James Toney, over whom he proceeded to score a first-round knockout 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.
However, he rebounded from this defeat with six straight wins, including a knockout of Harding in round five of their rematch.
Winning The Light Heavyweight Titles
On April 26, 2003, Tarver received his first World title shot, when he faced former World champion Montel Griffin for the IBF and WBC World light-heavyweight titles that had been vacated by Roy Jones Jr., who had gone on to beat John Ruiz for the WBA World heavyweight title the previous month.
After dropping Griffin in the first and last rounds, Tarver was crowned World Light Heavyweight champion after winning a unanimous decision.
Tarver vs Jones I & II
Next, Roy Jones Jr. decided against defending his heavyweight title and instead announced his plan to return and take back the Light Heavyweight belts. Given little chance of winning, Tarver surprised fan and expert alike by taking Jones the distance and losing the fight and WBC title by a close majority decision on November 8, 2003, in Las Vegas, Nevada (Tarver had relinquished the IBF title a few days earlier in anticipation of being unable to make a mandatory defence.) Because some of those that saw the fight thought that Tarver had actually done enough to win the fight, a small but well-publicized controversy ensued, leading to the pair's second fight. Because of Jones's proven ability to adjust to opponents' styles during rematches, experts did not believe Tarver would pose much of a threat in the second fight on May 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevertheless, Tarver produced the upset and recovered the World titles by knocking Jones out in the second round. In the eyes of most observers, it wasn't as shocking that Tarver had beaten Roy Jones Jr. as it was that he had knocked him out; in fifty previous fights, Roy Jones Jr. had been sent to the floor only once, and he had never lost a fight by knockout.
In addition to the surprising result, Tarver-Jones II will also be remembered as the "No Excuse Fight" as a result of Tarver's memorable comments in the middle of the ring just prior to the match. When referee Jay Nady asked if the fighters had any questions, Tarver surprised everyone (though he had told his trainer, James (Buddy) McGirt, he would do this) by replying: "I have a question." Then, looking straight at Jones, asked, "You got any excuses tonight, Roy?"
Rise in Popularity
Tarver became a mainstream celebrity after his rematch win over Jones, making appearances at late-night shows, appearing on the cover of both Ring and KO Magazine, being spotted by television cameras as a spectator at various boxing fights, and co-hosting ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" for one telecast.
Tarver vs Johnson I & II
Later in 2004, the WBC decided to strip Tarver of the World title after he decided against fighting their mandatory challenger, instead choosing to fight IBF World champion Glencoffe Johnson December 18 in Temecula, California; Tarver had already been removed as Super Champion by the WBA in their July rankings. Interestingly, Johnson himself had been stripped of his IBF World championship before the bout with Tarver for not fighting his mandatory challenger. Both fighters were celebrated for their decision to fight each other rather than bow to the pressure from what has become known as "The Alphabet Soup" sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA and IBF). Instead, Tarver and Johnson, who most believed to be the top two fighters in the Light-Heavyweight division, fought each other. Ring Magazine announced that the winner would be declared its recognized champion. Tarver, considered a favorite to win the fight, suffered an upset loss to Johnson by way of a split decision in a fight that he did not appear to be in top shape for. However, he avenged the loss six months later with a unanimous decision over Johnson at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. After out-boxing and out-working the aggressive Johnson, Tarver won the bout handily and regained The Ring championship.
Rubber Match Against Jones
In their third fight, Tarver won a unanimous decision over Roy Jones Jr. on October 1, 2005 in Tampa, Florida, almost knocking Jones out in the 11th round but also finding himself in trouble at times during the fight. He thus retained his IBO Light Heavyweight title and took the vacant NBA Light Heavyweight title.
Tarver vs Hopkins
On June 10, 2006, Tarver faced former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins for Tarver's Light-Heavyweight title at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. Hopkins, a 3-to-1 underdog, dominated the fight winning via unanimous decision. The fight was scored 118-109 by all three judges. Tarver was knocked down in the 5th round. As a result of a clause in the fight contract, Tarver was forced to pay $250,000 to a charity of Hopkins' choice since he did not knock Hopkins out before the fifth round. Hopkins announced his retirement immediately following the fight. Tarver's record would now stand at 24 wins and 4 losses, with 18 wins coming by way of knockout.
Return To The Ring
Tarver returned to the ring nearly one year after his loss to Hopkins, defeating Albanian-fighter Elvir Muriqi on June 9, 2007 by way of a majority decision capturing the IBO light heavyweight championship in the process. In his next fight, held at Foxwoods Resort Casino on December 1, 2007, Tarver registered a win over Danny Santiago by way of a 4th round TKO. Tarver then captured the IBF title by hammering and outpointing a one-dimensional Clinton Woods.
Tarver vs Dawson
On October 11, 2008, Tarver faced rising star Chad Dawson for Tarver's IBF and IBO Light-Heavyweight belts. The fight took place at Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Tarver lost the fight via unanimous decision, with wide margins of 118-109 and 117-110 (twice). The outcome was not disputed. With this latest loss it remains to be seen whether or not Tarver will continue to fight.
Tarver vs Dawson II
Tarver will again fight Dawson because of a rematch clause. The fight will begin on May 9, this time the fight will be televised by HBO.
Move Up To Heavyweight
Following the rematch loss to Dawson, Tarver took over a year off from the ring, before returning on 15 October 2010 to defeat Nagy Aguilera by 10 round unanimous decision in a bout that took place in the heavyweight division. For this fight Tarver officially weighed 221 lbs, some 46 lbs more than he had weighed for the Dawson rematch.
On 20 July 2011, Tarver took on Australian IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in Tarver's debut in the 200 lb cruiserweight division.
Tarver dominated the fight, knocking Green down in the second round and controlling the majority of the action from there on in. After taking heavy punishment and being saved by the bell at the end of round 9, Green failed to come out for the start of round 10, allowing Tarver to take the victory and the title by TKO.
Failed Drug Test
He reportedly tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in his pre-fight urine sample prior to his fight with Kayode, with the tests' results only released publicly after the fight.
Tarver starred as heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. In the film the current, unpopular, champion Dixon fights former champion Rocky Balboa, who decides to come out of retirement. Dixon wins the match by split decision, and after breaking his hand in the second round of the bout but still managing to stand toe to toe with Rocky for the full 10 rounds, proves to doubters that he has the heart of a champion. The DVD of the movie offers an alternate ending, in which Rocky wins the split decision.
Dixon's record before the fight is 33–0–0. Also on the DVD, the film's writer and director Sylvester Stallone wanted to cast a real boxer in the role of Dixon, as he thought it would be easier to teach a boxer how to act than to teach an actor how to box convincingly. In an August 18, 2010 interview with Stallone on The Howard Stern Show, the director indicated that Tarver refused to film his scene after the MGM had been rented out and filled with people already incurring high costs. In order to get the filming done, Stallone gave Tarver a cut of his own salary and points on the back end which resulted in Stallone making no money on the film.
Commentating With Showtime
Since his loss to Dawson, Tarver has been serving as a boxing analyst for Showtime Championship Boxing.