It's too bad for boxing that Roger Goodell already has a job.
The sport could use the NFL commissioner to protect it from itself. And Antonio Tarver is lucky Goodell has guys like Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson to keep him busy or he wouldn't be fighting for a while.
Tarver, the former light heavyweight champion, is a colorful character who has done a lot of good for boxing. But last week, on a conference call to promote Saturday's Showtime-televised doubleheader in which he and WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson appear in separate bouts, Tarver suggested he might have been drugged when he was routed by Bernard Hopkins last year.
It was an unsubstantiated and out-of-line comment that only served to sully the sport's already seamy reputation.
That there was little outcry when Tarver made the remarks is indicative of the low expectations most have for the sport.
If Rex Grossman had accused the Colts of drugging him prior to his disastrous outing in the Super Bowl, the allegations likely would have sparked a Congressional investigation.
But because so many consider boxing corrupt, Tarver's comments barely raised an eyebrow.
Tarver is one of the game's most eloquent speakers and charismatic personalities. He knows better than to make allegations he can not prove and which could be so damaging to the sport that has made him wealthy.
But there was no response because when it comes to regulation, boxing is the Wild West. It's essentially every man for himself and, thus, ludicrous accusations like the ones Tarver made are allowed to go unchecked.
"Something happened," Tarver said of his poor performance. "I do not want to point the finger. I believe that there was a possibility that they got to me, or someone got to me with ordering room service, a drink of water or whatever. But I was not myself. As big as that fight was, I could not get into it mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or nothing. I was zapped for whatever reason.
"I cannot blame it on my trainer because we trained properly. We were ready. But when I went to bed and woke up that day, I was a zombie and I do not know what happened. My sister thought that maybe I could have been poisoned; maybe somebody tampered with some food and took something away from me."
The long-time middleweight champion, Hopkins moved to light heavyweight to fight Tarver in what he was billing as his last fight. Hopkins routed Tarver in a surprisingly one-sided fight, winning a unanimous decision and nearly scoring a knockout.
Little was heard from Tarver after the fight until last week when he was discussing his upcoming bout with Elvir Muriqi.
Not surprisingly, he was asked about his lackluster performance.
It was no shock – or shame – to lose to Hopkins, one of the elite fighters of this generation. It was a shock that he offered about as much resistance as Pee Wee Herman.
If he was drugged, he should have presented evidence to the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and shared it with the media.
That he didn't do so suggests he was frustrated and embarrassed and trying to save face.
But his ill-advised accusation not only failed to ease the sting of his loss but unfairly impugned Hopkins' reputation.
Hopkins, who is preparing for a July 21 fight with Winky Wright, declined to comment on Tarver's charges through a spokesman.
But in the Philadelphia Daily News on Tuesday, he said, "Can you believe that (expletive)? To me, that's a slap in the face of Larry Hazzard (the executive director of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board).
Everything was done by the book."
Speaking of books, someone should throw one at Tarver. But because there is no one such as Goodell in boxing available to throw said book, maybe Tarver ought to do the right thing and donate a portion of his purse to a drug prevention charity.
If he did that, at least something good would come out of the mess.
- Antonio Tarver
- Roger Goodell
- Bernard Hopkins