Antonio Tarver Gets a Knockout Win in His Return to the Ring, but is He a Viable Heavyweight?

Yahoo Contributor Network
Antonio Tarver Gets a Knockout Win in His Return to the Ring, but is He a Viable Heavyweight?
.

View photo

Could Antonio Tarver make a little noise in the heavyweight division before retiring.

COMMENTARY| It could be the insatiable itch that is never scratched to have one's arms raised in victory or it could be the money. Whatever the reason, Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21KOs) continues to fight. He made a triumphant return to the ring after a 17 month layoff with a TKO victory over Mike Sheppard (21-16, 9 KOs) in Sunrise, Florida.

It only took four rounds for Tarver to pick apart his over-matched opponent. Tarver circled the slow-footed Sheppard and punished him with counter-lefts anytime Sheppard felt bold enough to come forward. He dominated the fight with his left hand using it to land straights, hooks and one malicious uppercut. That uppercut dropped the jaws of the crowd and sent Sheppard to his back for the first of three falls on the night.

After the uppercut Sheppard was never really the same even though he managed to wobble to his feet. That punch had the West Virginia native ready for the exit, but not before he took two more falls from less abrasive punches that finally caused the referee to stop the fight.

The "Magic Man" Tarver showed some decent speed for his weight but that could very much be attributed to his competition. He wasn't in the best shape but he didn't need to be and it was probably a good thing that the fight ended as early as it did. I can't imagine having to watch them gasp for air in the later rounds should the fight have been closer. A jubilant Tarver pointed to members in the crowd after the fight seemingly thanking them for coming and that was nice to see.

Now Tarver will look for a slight step up in competition and could team with Golden Boy Promotions again to make that happen. He still has a lot of work to do to be viable again and it's hard to ascertain his true intentions. Exactly how much further does he want to take things at age 45? I don't know if Tarver is using Bernard Hopkins as inspiration but Hopkins is certainly the exception and not the norm when it comes to older fighters.

Nevertheless, Tarver has a fairly recognizable name in the sport. That name could allow him to make some decent coin and help bring some more attention to the heavyweight division if he can build off his current momentum.

Warren Shaw is a NBA contributor to Dime Magazine and co-host of the weekly basketball podcast "The Baseline". He has covered various sporting events live while also conducting one on one player interviews. His passion for basketball is seconded by boxing and his work can be found on shawsports.net.

Follow him on Twitter @ShawSportsNBA

View Comments