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 Last update:  5/31/2012       Read more by Jake Donovan            &
Tarver: I Havenít Taken Kayode Lightly By Any Stretch
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By Jake Donovan

At 43 years of age, Antonio Tarver canít afford to leave anything to chance in his latest comeback.

The former light heavyweight king has always been outspoken in regards to his own career, whether during his prime or in his present state in the twilight. No matter the opponent, the pre-fight hype almost always seems to include a war of words at some point when it comes to Tarver (29-6, 20KO).

It hasnít been any different in preparation for his June 2 cruiserweight showdown with unbeaten contender Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14KO). The bout Ė which airs live on Showtime from the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA - will be his third since returning to the ring in 2010 after sitting out for nearly 18 months following back to back losses to Chad Dawson.

Tarverís first fight back came in Oct. í10 at heavyweight, showing up at a fleshy 221 lb. in scoring a decision win over Nagy Aguilera. Last yearís showing against Danny Green was far more impressive both in the ring and on his frame. Tarver weighed 197 ĺ lb in taking apart the Australian star en route to a ninth round knockout.

The bout with Kayode also takes place at cruiserweight, though Tarver sees himself eventually returning to the heavyweight division. It was the goal he set in mind when planning his comeback and views Kayode as the next stop in that journey.

However, none of that is to assume heís looking beyond June 2. While confident in his ability to run the tables and capture heavyweight hardware, Tarver knows as well as anyone that all it takes is one hiccup to throw everything off course.

ďThere is really no confidence to this fight until itís over,Ē Tarver admits. ďI havenít taken Lateef Kayode lightly by any stretch. I know as a fighter that one punch can change a fight and one punch can end a fight.

ďWhat I did in training camp was working on eliminating any chance of his getting lucky. He went on record saying heís gonna knock me out and holding strong to that assumption. Thatís going to make me strong and alert. When the bell goes ding, Iím going to dial in on this guy and go tunnel vision.Ē

There are two working theories surrounding this fight. One is that Tarver will outbox Kayode, who was raised in Nigeria but relocated to Hollywood five years ago, where he trains out of Freddie Roachís Wild Card Gym. The other is that Kayodeís best and perhaps only chance is to end it on one punch.

Tarver is way ahead of the curve in terms of training for either outcome.

ďIíve never really been hurt in a fight, I can take a punch,Ē Tarver acknowledges, having never been stopped though 16 years as a pro. ďIf it comes down to us going toe-to-toe, Iím ready for it. I donít have to run. I have confidence in my ability. My punches are target-oriented. Iím trying to hit the kidney and Iím trying to hit the chin. Iím going to work for the knockout, Iím not going to look for the home run.

ďWhen it comes down to it, weíre going to show him heís not the only one with muscles in this fight. Iím not coming in with any predetermined outcomes.Ē

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to

Tags: Lateef Kayode , Antonio Tarver , Tarver-Kayode , Tarver vs Kayode

 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by SlimTim, on 05-31-2012
I don't think Lateef can end it on one punch by any stretch. He's feasted on mostly E and D level opposition so far in his career and that's where the knockouts came from. I'm not saying this guy doesn't have power but if he hurts Target he's going to have to go after him and force the ref to s...

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