Mailbag: Lateef Kayode is using Antonio Tarver's words as motivation for their Showtime bout

Kevin Iole

Last year, HBO broadcaster Larry Merchant made himself somewhat of a cult hero when, following Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz, he told the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, "If I was 50 years younger, I'd kick your ass."

Merchant, of course, was 80 when he let Mayweather know what he thought of him after the fighter insulted him.

Lateef Kayode must have been watching. The cruiserweight prospect was unhappy with the commentary Antonio Tarver, 43, provided for Showtime during one of his fights.

As a result, on June 2, the two will fight as part of a quadruple-header on Showtime, with Kayode, 29, vowing to knock Tarver out.

Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs) is bemused by Kayode's antics. His ultimate goal is to move to heavyweight and get a crack at the belt held by Wladimir Klitschko, but he's willing to teach Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs) a lesson in the interim.

As the veteran and former world champion, Tarver admits the burden is on him.

"We have a storyline here: a young guy who took offense to what I was saying as a commentator," Tarver said. "I was just doing my job. I think the youth, the inexperience got the best of him. He's got his handlers saying that he's ready to roll the dice. But you've got to respect his position. He's a young fighter coming up that has nothing to lose.

"So Kayode is in a beautiful position, and if he loses to me, what has it done? It's going to set him back a little bit but he can regroup. I can't regroup if I lose to Lateef Kayode. There would be an asterisk and a question mark by my name, and we can't have that."

Tarver acknowledged Kayode's power and his high knockout percentage, but he's been in with some of the best punchers in the sport and has never been knocked out.

[Related: Rankings: Mayweather, Pacquiao are unlikely to fight each other]

He's not expecting Kayode to begin a trend.

"I've fought a lot of strong guys who didn't get lucky, who couldn't hit me, couldn't find me," Tarver said. "So he's coming in here trying to get lucky. I'm coming in here to rely on my skills, my experience and my conditioning to win this fight. I'll take Kayode places he's never been, and that's in deep waters. He's never been in there with a fighter like me and I'm going to show him what it's all about."

Hooks and jabs

Exclusive contracts between fighters and premium cable channels do nothing to help the sport and a lot to hurt it. Had Amir Khan not been tied to an HBO deal, it's likely he would have stepped in to replace Andre Berto, who failed a prefight drug test, June 23 against Victor Ortiz. It would have been a Fight of the Year candidate, too, but since the bout is on Showtime, it couldn't happen.


Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could learn a lot from Lucian Bute and Carl Froch.
Former WBA champion David Haye should quit talking about why he believes Vitali Klitschko may not want to fight him and win a few fights. Haye was as timid as can be in an ugly loss last year to Wladimir Klitschko. All of a sudden, he's trashing Vitali Klitschko for not wanting to fight? Ridiculous. I long for the day when fighters earned their big bouts by actually fighting quality opposition.
I'm expecting the U.S. to get at least four medals in the 2012 Olympics in London. I like the chances of Rau'shee Warren, Jose Ramirez, Marcus Browne and Terrell Gausha to medal for the U.S. I also think heavyweight Michael Hunter has a good chance for a medal, as well. If the U.S. gets five medals, it would be its best performance since 1996, when the team won one gold and five bronze medals.


Mayweather has fought poor opposition

Boxing fans are getting tired of all the talk about if Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will ever fight. It is pretty clear Floyd does not want to fight Manny. If he did the fight would happen. But let's take a look at Mayweather's opponents over the last 12 years: Miguel Cotto, Victor Ortiz, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Carlos Baldomir, Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell, Arturo Gatti, Henry Bruseles, DeMarcus Corley, Philip N'Dou, Victoriano Soa, Jose Luis Castillo, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Diego Corrales and Emanuel Burton (now Augustus). Not one was an elite fighter when Mayweather fought them. Floyd has been protected his entire career. Pacquiao has faced the better competition throughout his career and he's fighting the better fighter next month. He may have a few losses and draws, but that's what happens when you don't hide like a coward!
Todd Marquez

Todd, I'm going to disagree and disagree vehemently. Mayweather has fought a slew of tough competition, and many opponents were their prime. Yes, Mosley was way past his prime, but Corrales was 33-0 with 27 knockouts at the time Mayweather fought him. What you've done is minimize every opponent Mayweather has faced, usually incorrectly, and maximize every one Pacquiao has faced. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao are elite fighters. Each has faced difficult opposition and each has had some soft touches.

Berto test could help sport, but put end to Floyd-Manny talks

Andre Berto being tested positive for a banned substance can undeniably help boxing. However, this can also put Mayweather-Pacquiao fight off forever. The main reason why Mayweather is hesitant to fight Pacquiao is his concern for his health, because he believes Pacquiao is using performance-enhancing drugs. That's the reason for the delay for than any financial issues. With Lamont Peterson and Berto having tested positive, Mayweather's campaign to clean not only boxing but all sports got a big hit of his own. However, Khan passed his test which allows us to reach the conclusion that Amir is clean. The fact is Khan and Pacquiao both use Alex Ariza as their conditioning coach/nutritionist. If Khan is clean, it makes sense that Pacquiao is clean, too. Pacquiao is a Superman in the eyes of many, most importantly Mayweather. In the end, Mayweather will retire for the good of his health and family.
Erwin Abeque

Thanks, Erwin, but you've made some leaps I'm not willing to make. I don't think the Berto positive test will have any influence on a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. And just because one fighter passed a test does not mean another using the same coach will do so. I hope the recent spate of positive tests will have the effect of cleaning up the sport, but I doubt it. Athletes are always looking for an edge and those who have cheated will likely look for other ways to conceal their use. None of this, in my opinion, will effect Mayweather or Pacquiao and their decision whether or not to fight in the least.

Is Arum really to blame?

Mayweather keeps blaming Top Rank's Bob Arum for the failure to make the fight with Pacquiao. He said the proposed terms were unfair, but neither party has explained. Supposedly, there is disagreement over whether the proposed split is actually 50-50. I am left to guess that Arum wants to promote and Mayweather thinks the 50-50 split should be before any Arum fee. Do you have more information on this?
Will Slate

Too many want to point fingers in this situation and a lot of time and energy that could be spent hammering out a deal has gone to blaming one side or the other. It's hopelessly naïve to think a fight of this magnitude is being held up by one person. Yes, Arum deserves some blame. So, too, though, do people on all sides of this debate, including the fighters themselves. There are a slew of issues that need to be worked out, but the financial split and the drug testing regimen are chief among them. As for the fee, each fighter would have to pay his own promoter. Mayweather promotes himself, but since his company, Mayweather Promotions, is unlicensed in Nevada, he uses Golden Boy's license and pays it a fee for doing so. Pacquiao uses Top Rank and would have to work out a deal with Arum and pay him out of his side.

Why boxing doesn't enforce Olympic-style testing

For all the criticism Floyd Mayweather gets (for whatever reason), I think he is generally unappreciated for his attempts to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs. Why aren't any of the sanctioning bodies taking Mayweather's mantra of, "If you want to fight the best, you gotta take the test" and implementing Olympic-style testing for title bouts? A sport with inherent violence such as boxing should be leading the charge against PEDs. Ultimately, do you think that instituting Olympic-style testing would be more groundbreaking in boxing than, say, reducing the number of rounds in a championship fight from 15 to 12?
Sunha Kim

The reason sanctioning bodies aren't implementing testing is that the tests are expensive and the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF aren't interested into cutting into their own profits. The best way to catch the cheaters is to use carbon isotope ratio (CIR) testing, and that is extremely expensive. Few people want to be on the hook for that. Ridding the sport of PEDs is a noble goal, but one without easy or simple answers. It's going to have to start, though, with the fighters demanding that the sport is rid of this plague.


"I stand behind testing on all fighters." – Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya, via Twitter, advocating for widened testing for performance-enhancing drugs in boxing.

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