By Phil D. Jay
IBO cruiserweight champion Antonio Tarver is pencilled in to compete in his 36th professional contest when the five-time world title holder meets undefeated Lateef Kayode on May 26th.
The 43 year-old is yet to finalize a venue for the bout, which co-features with fellow-Florida fighter Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright’s return to action against 26-0 middleweight contender Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin and Tarver revealed to WBN some of the options being considered.
“I felt since Winky and I are both from Florida it was a no brainer to stage the fights there,” Tarver explained to World Boxing News.
“But as in most cases in boxing nothing seems as it appears so they've come up with Newark or New York as possibilities. I am fine with either and as of last week, I heard that California or Las Vegas were also strong candidates.”
Tarver is making the first defence of the title he ripped from Danny Green in Sydney, Australia last July and comes up against Nigerian-born Kayode, 29, who is 18-0 with 14 stoppages and calls himself ‘Power’ – which Tarver aims to cancel out when the pair meet.
“His recent performances show that Freddie and Lateef are working hard in an attempt to become a complete fighter,” Tarver indicated.
“They continue to try and box and disguise his power to be more deceptive. I don't know if they've come as far as they'll need to in order to beat me on May 26, but even though he hasn’t recorded a KO in his last couple of fights, I think he's improved.
“I wouldn’t say I was impressed by his power - that would be a bit overstated because I’ve seen it all and very little impresses me when I am facing an opponent because it is my job to break him down and take away his strengths. Trust me I am not taking him lightly because he does have the type of power that could change a fight drastically with one punch.”
The ‘Magic Man’ also admitted that a deal to battle WBC champion Krzystof Wlodarczyk in the summer was on the cards for a while as rumours suggested, but the fact that Francisco Palacios was positioned as mandatory challenger ended negotiations.
“We were very close in making a deal to unify against the Polish fighter, but he had his mandatory to handle so it would have had to be later in the year. We didn’t want to wait for him so I think we have the next best opponent in Lateef Kayode.”
The southpaw also continues to harbour hopes of a move up to heavyweight to become a three-weight, six-time world champion and has been vocal in his pursuit of the Ukrainian multi-belt holders Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko in recent months.
“I most definitely see heavyweight in my future,” Tarver confirmed. “When you look at all the heavyweights that had successful runs at cruiserweight, they went on and did some big things in the division – the likes of Haye and Holyfield.
“Although I haven’t heard a peep from either brother - trust me, I plan on getting their attention on May 26,” he added.
Phil D. Jay covers boxing for worldboxingnews.net