'Call Em Out Fridays': Antonio Tarver - "Magic Man" Preparing To Disappear?

Antonio TarverBy Vivek Wallace: This weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment shines the spotlight on one of the sports most enigmatic spectacles. With his most notable performances residing in the rear view of a very distant pass, this weekend he once again finds himself center stage with the chance to create a new opportunity to bridge that gap and bring himself back to the future. After his last performance in which he was totally dominated by the young Dawson, many have began to question Tarver's ability to perform at this stage in his career, but what few have stopped to realize is the fact that despite being 40 years of age, the talented southpaw has only been in the game for little over a decade - (12 years). What adds intrigue to this showdown is the fact that throughout his career, Tarver has been a king of the rematch, defeating everyone he has ever lost too, typically in a somewhat devastating fashion.

Glen Johnson and Eric Harding both found this out the hard way, but it was another opponent that he faced which gave him every ounce of credibility he now holds. Throughout his career, Tarver has done some pretty notable things in the ring, but perhaps the most notable of them all was his dominating performance against Roy Jones Jr. After a tough, gutsy performance in their first bout where Jones barely squeaked out a victory, Tarver would go back to the drawing board and set out to show the world exactly what makes him so dangerous.. It was very clear from the beginning that Tarver would do something grand on this night, as many remember the event defining moment where he asked Jones in front of referee Jay Nady after pre-fight instructions, " (Do) you got any excuses tonight, Roy"? Few believed that any opponent of the once invincible Jones would be confident enough to put on such a display, but less than 6 minutes later, that same group of on-lookers would be in for an ever larger surprise as Tarver shot a perfect left from his natural southpaw stance, sending Jones crashing to the canvas dazed and unable to recover. After years of gradually climbing through the ranks, it was at this moment where Tarver would finally see the fruits of his labor, proving to the world that he was more than a typical contender.

As triumphant as that moment was, the troubling thing in the career of Tarver beyond that moment of glory is the fact that there has been little consistency. He lost his very next matchup to Glen Johnson, and shortly after avenging that loss, he battled to another sloppy victory over Roy Jones Jr., only to be completely dismantled at the hands of a fighter who was proven in the sport, but not quite in his weight class - Bernard Hopkins. Those ups and downs of Tarver have led many to question his ethic and drive to win and it's hard to deny them considering the fact that the only time he has shown true motivation has been when his back was up against the wall. It has literally taken the agony of defeat to balance his drive and lead him to better results. Against the likes of an older Roy Jones and a less popular Glen Johnson, Tarver was able to do enough to cross the finish line, but many wonder what results will he produce against a fighter like Dawson who is still in his prime and has the 'wind' of his career at his back? In many ways this is a make or break fight for both men, as Dawson knows that a strong performance puts him in contention to land at least a few major paydays; while Tarver firmly understands that a loss for him literally places his second foot paralleled with the first, which long ago crossed the exit line. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd put my money on one final act for Tarver. He has done some great things in the sport and considering that this is a rematch, he's in his his natural habitat. That being said, I just think despite all the magic he has pulled off in the past, the only trick he'll be good for this time around will unfortunately be a disappearing act. Not the desired effect, but in the end, most would agree that it'll unfold this way. I could be wrong, and if there's anyone out there who loves to prove his critics wrong, it's Tarver. Tune in Saturday night on HBO at 930pm EST to find out.

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at and 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and the Examiner, or show some love at Facebook and Myspace).

Article posted on 08.05.2009

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