By Victor Salazar
North Bergen, NJ - Naazim Richardson has been in the corner of Steve Cunningham through many of his challenges. Come tonight as part of the Premier Boxing Champions broadcast, he hopes to guide Cunningham through another challenge in defeating Antonio Tarver.
“It’s a good challenge,” Richardson told BoxingScene.com. “Tarver has a high IQ. He didn’t have a high IQ last time I saw him. He’s commentating now and he’s picked the brains of other trainers so he’s gotten a lot smarter. He’s not the same athlete he once was. None of us have the same reflexes as we did in the past. Every once in a while, a freak of nature comes around like Bernard Hopkins but we can’t use Hopkins to gauge the older athletes. He’s once in a lifetime.
Richardson feels this matchup between the two was inevitable and had the two met in the lower weights, he wouldn’t be confident in Cunningham beating Tarver.
“I think at light heavyweight Steve couldn’t beat him because that’s the best we seen Tarver at,” Richardson explained. “He did the biggest think he did in boxing and that was smash Roy Jones. Even an old guy can have that night where he remembers what made him great. Steve ain’t the youngest guy in the world either. He can’t do the things he did in the past. I think it’s a matchup before their careers ended that had to happen.”
But he knows they are at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting in the heavyweight division.
“I’m the first person to tell you Steve Cunningham is not a heavyweight, that’s why he’s so fast and that’s why his feet are so good and his body is swift because he’s not a heavyweight. Tarver was a heavyweight fighter. He was a heavyweight when he was light heavyweight. He’s from that era where you sweat down 25 pounds and be strong. They sweat down and everyone talking bout how hard they punch. If Klitschko got down to 175, I bet none of his fights would go the distance.”