Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver will face Johnathon Banks in the main event of a “Golden Boy Live” card on September 29 at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
Father and Son
Both Tarver and Banks are coming off long layoffs, with the former at 10 months and the latter at 15 months. While each fighter is looking for a win to get into the heavyweight picture, the event will be more than just his fight, for Antonio Tarver.
In the undercard, his 26 year old son Antonio Jr. will be making his pro debut in a four-round junior middleweight bout. Like his father, the young Tarver is a southpaw who according to his father “is a spitting young image of himself but with a more aggressive, fan friendly style with speed and power.” However, unlike his father who is one of the most decorated US amateurs of all-time, Antonio Jr. has only a handful of amateur fights.
Shadow of Old Self
The 45 year old Tarver( 30-6–1 with 21 KOs) broke into mainstream stardom when he knocked out the great Roy Jones Jr. in the second round of their rematch to win the WBC,WBA,IBF,IBO and Ring light heavyweight titles. Jones had beaten Tarver by a close majority decision during their first fight. Tarver also defeated Jones by unanimous decision in their rubbermatch in 2005.
But after losing two consecutive bouts to Chad Dawson in 2008 and 2009, Tarver has fought only four times, including a draw with Lateef Kayode in 2012 that was later overturned into a no-contest after Tarver tested positive for banned steroids. After serving a one year suspension and serving time as a Showtime analyst, Tarver returned to action last November against journeyman Mike Sheppard. Although Tarver dropped Sheppard thrice in round 1, he looked like the shadow of his old self.
Tarver says he would like to determine if he still has the ability to make a “conceivable run” for the heavyweight title, and fighting a tough guy like Banks will hopefully gauge that.
Trainer and Fighter
Banks( 29-2-1 with 19 KOs) was a protégé of Emmanuel Steward. The 32 year old Detroit native has not fought since getting knocked out by Seth Mitchell in their 2013 rematch. Instead, he’s been busy as the trainer of heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitchsko.
Banks and Wladimir are training for the latter’s Sept 6 mandatory title defense in Germany. K2 promotions, which handles Banks, said that their fighter will continue to train Klitschko while preparing for his own bout. Once the Klitschko fight is over, Banks will return to Detroit to continue his training in his hometown.