Dan Rafael: Antonio Tarver

Tarver Jr. to fight on his father's card

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
While heavyweights Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs) and Johnathon Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs), both in need of an impressive performance to keep their flickering prospects of a major fight alive, square off in a 10-round bout in the main event of a “Golden Boy Live” card on Sept. 29 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes) at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, the undercard will feature a couple of fighters who could provide a glimpse of the future.

Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (11-0, 7 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and crowd-pleasing prospect, will meet Mexico's Raul Hidalgo (21-11, 16 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round co-feature, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday.

In another undercard bout, although one not scheduled for the telecast, 26-year-old Antonio Tarver Jr., who had already been announced as being on the card, will make his professional debut against Zachary Briones (1-1, 1 KO) in a four-round middleweight bout.

"This is a blessing," Tarver Jr. said. "I've always wanted to fight. This just happens to be on the same fight card as my father. My father came from nothing and he's always persevered. Everything has worked out wonderfully. I grew up in Daytona Beach [Florida], playing basketball and football, but I've known fighters who were on the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team with my father -- Floyd Mayweather Jr., Nate Jones and others -- since I was a little kid. I was always with my father at his fights and in the gym, but he never let me fight. Boxing is in my blood, though, and I finally started boxing after I hurt my ankle playing basketball. I was 19 and weighed around 200 pounds.

“I was in Tampa with my father and went to the West Tampa Boxing Gym, the old Legends, to get some help because my father said I had to lose weight before I could fight. It took me six months because of my ankle to get down to 180. I didn't have my first amateur fight until I was 20. I finished with an 11-1 record as an amateur and now I'm just trying to catch up. I'm getting my feet as fast as my hands. Nobody is tougher than me.”

Father and son are both being trained by Orlando Cuellar, who trained Glen Johnson for his two fights against Tarver Sr.

"This is the first time I've trained a father and his son, but I don't look at it that way. They are two fighters with separate needs,” Cuellar said. “It does blow my mind when I think about it outside the gym. ... Junior is a very promising prospect who likes to mix it up and let his punches fly. His father, of course, has a lot more experience. He's a tactical fighter who plays mind games inside the ring with his opponent. He's a very intelligent fighter."

Canelo dismisses Lara challenge

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Erislandy LaraMaddie Meyer/Getty ImagesJunior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara wants a shot at Canelo Alvarez.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book for a desperate boxer looking to land a big fight: Go to the star’s press conference and call him out. Demand that he fight you. Sometimes it even works.

It did for Antonio Tarver years ago when he made a scene at the press conference after Roy Jones Jr. had just beaten John Ruiz to win a heavyweight world title.

In his next fight, Jones returned to light heavyweight and gave Tarver a shot, outpointing him in a championship fight that turned out to be the first bout of their trilogy (which Tarver won 2-1).

The latest to pull the stunt was Houston’s Erislandy Lara, the skillful Cuban defector who crashed Canelo Alvarez’s post-fight news conference following his dominant 10th-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Lara, a southpaw, has been looking for a major fight. He was upset that even though he survived two knockdowns and stopped Angulo in the 10th round to win a vacant interim junior middleweight title in June that it was Angulo who got the money fight with Alvarez instead of him.

Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs), who, like Alvarez, is promoted by Golden Boy, took to the podium at the press conference and, with Alvarez standing right next to him, said, “Everyone wants to see the fight. When can you and I fight?”

It was only Lara’s latest attempt to lure Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) into facing him. Calm and cool, the Mexican star didn’t miss a beat.

“Everyone wants to see it? Who wants to see the fight,” Alvarez asked the crowd inside the media center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

One person raised his hand – Luis DeCubas Jr., Lara’s manager.

“Isn’t that that your manager,” Alvarez asked Lara in a mocking fashion that drew laughter from the crowd. “This is not how you make fights, so you’ll have to wait.”

Alvarez is due back in the ring on July 26, according to the plan Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer laid out a few months ago calling for Alvarez to have three Showtime PPV fights in 2014.

Alvarez does not have an opponent, so Lara conceivably could get his wish, although there will be other candidates for Alvarez to pick from.

Lara, meanwhile, will have other business to attend to first. Schaefer said Lara is likely to defend his belt in Las Vegas on May 2 – on the eve of Floyd Mayweather’s welterweight unification fight with Marcos Maidana – against former titlist Ishe Smith of Las Vegas.

Smith (25-6, 11 KOs), thanks to being promoted by Mayweather, would be getting the interim title bout despite coming off losing his world title to Carlos Molina in September on the Mayweather-Alvarez undercard.

Rapid Reaction: Tarver wins

November, 26, 2013
Coming off a 1½-year layoff, including a one-year suspension for testing positive for steroids after his previous fight, Antonio Tarver, the former light heavyweight champion, moved up to heavyweight from cruiserweight and drilled journeyman opponent Mike Sheppard for a fourth-round knockout on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Tarver, who turned 45 last week, said before the fight that he isn't ready to face a top-10 heavyweight but wanted to use the fight with Sheppard to shake off the rust of his layoff and ease into his new division. He said he has a one-year plan, with his ultimate goal being to win a heavyweight world title, even though Tarver hasn't been much of a force -- or very active -- since losing back-to-back light heavyweight title fights to Chad Dawson in 2008 and 2009. This was only Tarver's fourth fight since 2009.

Key moment: Round 4. Although Tarver won the first three rounds, he looked sluggish. But then he began to look more comfortable in the fourth round, finally letting his hands go against the stationary Sheppard. Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs) scored a first knockdown on a well-timed left uppercut that caught Sheppard (21-16-1, 9 KOs) clean. Moments later, Sheppard went down for the second time under heavy fire. Tough guy Sheppard, bleeding from his nose, wanted more -- and he got it as Tarver, a southpaw, dropped him yet again with a nice overhand left, prompting referee Sam Burgos to call off the fight at 1 minute, 54 seconds.

We've got your number: 221. Tarver weighed a fleshy 221 pounds, 46 more than when he was at his best as light heavyweight champ. The 221 pounds was the same weight Tarver carried into his only other foray in the heavyweight division, in 2010, when he looked a bit shaky in a wide unanimous decision win against Nagy Aguilera.

Last word: Tarver says he wants to become heavyweight champion, and it's admirable that he wants to go about it the right way -- meaning, easing into the division and moving forward with a one-year plan. Sheppard was the perfect opponent to get started against, but for Tarver -- at 45, coming off a long layoff, not close to his prime and clearly not in top shape -- it looks more like a fantasy than anything that will become reality.

Tarver returns at heavyweight

November, 25, 2013
Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, out of the ring for 16 months because of a drug suspension, is making his comeback at heavyweight.

Tarver, who turned 45 last week, will take on designated opponent Mike Sheppard, a 38-year-old West Virginia club fighter who has lost three of his last four fights, in a 10-rounder on Tuesday night (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, 9 ET) at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

"For this fight I was anxious to get back,” said Tarver, who is from Tampa. “I really missed boxing.”

After Tarver’s last fight, a cruiserweight draw with Lateef Kayode in June 2012 in Carson, Calif., he tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone. The California State Athletic Commission suspended Tarver for a year, fined him (although it was a pittance, just $2,500 of a $1.1 million purse) and changed the result of the bout to a no contest.

Tarver maintained all along that he never knowingly took a banned substance, although the failed test cost him his job as a Showtime analyst as well as a gig that had yet to start as a studio analyst on NBC for the 2012 Olympic boxing tournament.

In Tarver’s only other fight at heavyweight, he won a 10-round decision against Nagy Aguilera in 2010. Tarver said he is at heavyweight again because he dreams of one day winning the title, as unlikely as that is.

“I wanted to go to heavyweight because if I was going to make my return, it had to be for something bigger than me. I had to set a goal and I want to become heavyweight champion,” Tarver said. “It gives me something to come back for, something to reach for, gives me a mountain I can climb. That’s when I'm at my best -- when I feel my back is against the wall and I am the only one that thinks I can do it. I have to have the mindset and spirit to get it done.”

Sheppard (21-15-1, 9 KOs) figures to be a soft touch for Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs), although he admitted that he is not ready to take on a top heavyweight yet. Tarver also knows a loss at this stage of his career probably means it’s over.

“I'm not ready today for the top 10, but I want to get right back to work,” Tarver said. “If I lose again, there’s a good chance I will hang it up. I don't want that loss to come and, hopefully, be heavyweight champ.

"After [Tuesday’s] fight, I am going to recuperate in preparation for my next fight. I don’t know who that is going to be, but I'm going to be ready. It won’t be long before I can call out the best heavyweights in the world and be a serious threat. I am prepared for whatever Mike Sheppard is going to bring. This is a chance of a lifetime for him. He knows if he can beat me, he can make a name for himself. I have to make sure I protect my name and my reputation. I can’t wait. This is my reintroduction to the boxing world.”

Cunningham back Dec. 14

November, 19, 2013
Here are a couple of heavyweight tidbits:

• Heavyweight Steve Cunningham (25-6, 12 KOs), the former two-time cruiserweight titlist from Philadelphia, has been added to Main Events' Dec. 14 (NBC Sports Net) card in Atlantic City, N.J. There is no opponent yet for the eight-rounder. Cunningham hasn't fought since being stopped in the seventh round by Tyson Fury in April.

• The heavyweight bout between former title challengers Odlanier Solis (20-1, 13 KOs) and Kevin Johnson (29-3-1, 14 KOs), both of whom lost to Vitali Klitschko in world title bouts, is off. Golden Boy originally announced it would be on the Antonio Tarver-Mike Sheppard undercard on Nov. 26 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. However, the fight is off over “a financial issue,” according to Golden Boy. Solis promoter Ahmet Oner was the one paying to put the fight on the card, according to Golden Boy, and there was a problem with the purses for the fight.

A step up for Olympian Breazeale

November, 13, 2013
Dominic Breazeale, the 2012 U.S. Olympic super heavyweight, is taking a step up in competition when he faces battle-tested Nagy Aguilera in a scheduled eight-rounder Nov. 26 (Fox Sports 1), Golden Boy Promotions has announced.

Breazeale (7-0, 7 KOs), a 6-foot-6 former college quarterback, will face Aguilera at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., in one of the televised bouts on a card headlined by the return of former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs), who turns 45 on Nov. 21 and is moving up to heavyweight from cruiserweight to face soft touch Mike Sheppard (21-15-1, 9 KOs) in the main event after 16 months out of the ring because of a positive steroid test and subsequent suspension.

Aguilera (19-7, 13 KOs), who has won two fights in a row, is vastly experienced compared to the opponents Breazeale has been facing. Aguilera went the distance in decision losses to Tomasz Adamek in 2012 and Tarver in 2010 in Tarver’s only previous heavyweight bout. Aguilera also has faced top contender Cristobal Arreola and former titleholder Samuel Peter, although he was stopped by both. His biggest win was a shocking first-round knockout victory against former titleholder Oleg Maskaev in 2009.

In another heavyweight bout added to the card, although not scheduled to be televised, 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis (20-1, 13 KOs) and Kevin Johnson (29-3-1, 14 KOs) -- who both lost world title fights to Vitali Klitschko -- meet in a 10-rounder.

The previously announced co-feature will see rising bantamweight contender Randy Caballero (19-0, 11 KOs) face Jessy Cruz (10-5-1, 4 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder.

Also on the card, light heavyweight prospect Thomas Williams (14-0, 10 KOs) meets former title challenger Yusaf Mack (31-6-2, 17 KOs).

Kayode moving up to heavyweight

December, 28, 2012
Lateef KayodeFightwireimages.comLateef Kayode could add depth to the heavyweight division in 2013.

Cruiserweight Lateef Kayode announced that he is moving up to heavyweight.

"Kayode is a heavy-handed puncher who can easily bring his power up to the heavyweight division,” promoter Gary Shaw said. “Right now my matchmaker, John Beninati, is looking at potential opponents and we are confident Lateef will be successful moving up in weight.”

The 29-year-old Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs), a native of Nigeria living in Los Angeles, only fought once in 2012. If you saw it, you’ll remember it because of how terrible the Showtime main event was. If you didn’t see it, count yourself lucky. Kayode and former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver fought to a miserable 12-round draw in a June cruiserweight bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. However, the result was later changed to a no decision after Tarver tested positive for a steroid in a California State Athletic Commission urine test.

"We made a lot of headway campaigning as a cruiserweight,” said Steve Feder, Kayode's manager. “Ultimately our options since the Tarver debacle have diminished. At this point, the heavyweight division, which we fought our first nine fights in, seems to be calling. Lateef is in the gym and feels very strong at his new weight.”

Feder said Kayode is expected to fight in February.

Donaire embraces random testing

July, 5, 2012

The recent news on drug testing in boxing has been abysmal, with three big-name fighters testing positive for banned substances in the span of a couple of months.

First came Lamont Peterson, who tested positive for synthetic testosterone before his highly anticipated May 19 junior welterweight title rematch with Amir Khan, forcing the fight to be canceled.

A few weeks later, Andre Berto came up dirty for a steroid before his June 23 welterweight rematch with Victor Ortiz, and that fight also was canceled.

And then there was cruiserweight Antonio Tarver, who tested positive for a steroid after his lackluster draw June 2 against Lateef Kayode.

They came one after another, reinforcing a notion that is obvious to anyone paying attention -- that boxing, like many other sports, has a problem with performance-enhancing drugs and needs better and more stringent testing.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. pioneered going the extra mile a few years ago by insisting that he and his opponent submit to random blood and urine testing during the lead-up to their fight. And now junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire is taking it to another level.

"The Filipino Flash" has become the first fighter to agree to submit to random blood and urine testing 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Whether he has a fight lined up or not, Donaire is subject to random testing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, the same organization that busted Peterson and Berto.

Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) will face South Africa's Jeffrey Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KOs) in a junior featherweight title unification fight Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and decided recently to sign on for the long-term testing.

Ideally, other fighters will follow his lead.

"I decided to do this because I wanted to show that all of the things I have done, I have done through hard work," Donaire said. "I want to show honesty towards my fans. A lot of guys have been getting caught, but I just wanted to prove to my fans that the things I have done, I have done by myself. I am a person that started with nothing. I am honest, and I think it's good for the sport. I hope everyone is inspired by it to prove they are legit and that it can help the sport.

"They will be doing 24/7, 365-day random tests. So they can, at any time, be knocking on my door. I have to let them know where I will be at all times."

Although Donaire is being randomly tested, he didn't insist that Mathebula be tested as a requirement of making the fight.

"He is welcome to do it, but I don't force anyone to do it," Donaire said. "If he agrees to it, the whole boxing body needs to know about it. I invite them to join, but most importantly, I want my fans to know what I am doing."

Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Donaire, has not yet fully embraced random testing to the point that he insists it be used for his major promotions, but he said he supports Donaire.

"I first want to commend Nonito for the position he is taking," Arum said. "I think if you look at what is happening in Congress with the bill that Senators [Harry] Reid and [John] McCain have put in for a federal boxing commission -- I would hope that if we had a federal boxing commission that that commission would institute random drug testing for every single registered fighter in the United States so that we would have a system akin to what we have in the other major sports, like football and baseball, under the auspices of a federal commission."

Arum said he has concerns -- not so much about the actual testing, but rather about who has the authority to deal with positive tests and to make sure it's a level playing field.

"What I am concerned about is the groups, no matter who they are, doing it without the direction of a commission," Arum said. "I have heard, just like you have probably heard, where people have paid money to get exemptions for people that have tested positive. That's a little scary. VADA is a good organization to do this testing and we have to establish protocol with VADA, who they would report to, etc.

"Let's say VADA finds someone who tests dirty. Now what happens? Who do they report it to? Is that basis enough for a commission? What are the consequences? ... All fighters should be tested, but we have to work out the consequences. It's easy with a guy like Tarver, who has participated in the fight, then his urine comes back allegedly dirty. That's an easy consequence. But what do you do with Fighter B who agrees to submit and he has a dirty test [before the fight]? This is a new area and has to be worked out, and it's a lot easier to handle with a federal boxing commission."

Donaire said he agreed with Arum's assessment even as he moves forward with random testing, and he's quite confident in his ability even if an opponent were to cheat.

"I am always willing to fight the guy," Donaire said. "I can say, 'Even though you're on [a PED], I can still beat you.' "

Tarver-Kayode bombs at gate

June, 19, 2012
I've always believed that the live gate for a fight card should remotely reflect how much a network pays for a fight. When Arturo Gatti was selling out Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., the gates were around $1.2 million, give or take, depending on the bout. HBO, meanwhile, was paying around $2 million for his fights under his multifight contract with the network. Those numbers are in the same ballpark.

And then you have what happened with the June 2 Showtime card at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The network paid about $2 million for the quadrupleheader headlined by Antonio Tarver's draw with Lateef Kayode in a cruiserweight fight.

There were three other bouts on the broadcast, which was promoted by Tarver's company (AT Entertainment), Golden Boy and others who had fighters on the card: middleweight Peter Quillin retiring Winky Wright, junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout outpointing Delvin Rodriguez in a snoozer and Leo Santa Cruz throwing about a billion punches to outpoint Vusi Malinga for a vacant bantamweight belt. And for good measure, Showtime Extreme aired a fifth fight from the card, super middleweight contender Sakio Bika's knockout of Dyah Davis.

The promoters paid $1.76 million in purses for the five TV bouts, but the card generated a weak live gate of just $84,676.25, according to the California State Athletic Commission. That is stunningly bad when compared to the TV rights fee.

From day one, I believed the card was set up in the wrong location. It made zero sense to hold it in Southern California when the card's two name fighters, Tarver and Wright, hail from the Tampa, Fla., area. The result: The Home Depot Center drew 7,010 fans, which is a great number for that card. But then look a little closer. According to the California commission, only 1,200 tickets were actually sold, while 5,810 were given away for free. That's just bad business.

Now check out the purses, which were totally out of whack with the public's apparent interest in buying tickets: Tarver earned $1 million, Kayode $130,000, Wright $200,000, Quillin $130,000, Trout $100,000, Rodriguez $75,000, Malinga $50,000, Santa Cruz $35,000, Bika $35,000 and Davis $12,000.

Then again, this isn't the first time there has been such a wicked disparity in a card's rights fee compared to its gate. For example, in 2010, Andre Berto defended a welterweight title against Carlos Quintana in Sunrise, Fla., not far from Berto's hometown. HBO paid $2.15 million for that televised doubleheader, which sold just 972 tickets for a gate of $105,759.52 at the BankAtlantic Center, a massive arena that is home to the Florida Panthers in the NHL.

Ring Tones: Tarver-Kayode preview

May, 31, 2012

Athletes frequently rail against media members who "never played the game," and one can only guess a few of them have daydreamed of landing a haymaker on some snide scribe or TV wonk. On Saturday, cruiserweight Lateef Kayode gets to live the dream against former light heavyweight champ and current Showtime boxing analyst Antonio Tarver, 43, whose commentary on a recent Kayode fight was taken to heart by the 29-year-old power puncher. For more on the headliner fight from ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, check out the clip above.

Ring Tones: Trout-Rodriguez

May, 24, 2012

Dan Rafael has written extensively about the June 2 Showtime quadrupleheader headlined by Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode, which appears rock-solid from top to bottom. Yet of the four televised fights, he's most intrigued by the Austin Trout-Delvin Rodriguez junior middleweight title tilt -- and not only because he believes it may be the most crowd-pleasing fight on the card. For more on Rafael's thoughts on Trout-Rodriguez, click on the video above.
LAS VEGAS -- Former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver is training in Tampa, Fla., for his cruiserweight fight against Lateef Kayode in the main event of a June 2 Showtime quadrupleheader, but he's a boxing fan (and a Showtime analyst) and couldn't help but weigh in on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight.

"I think that Mayweather's coming in with all the natural, God-given ability and talent, and Cotto comes in with the physical game," said Tarver, who was Mayweather's 1996 U.S. Olympic teammate. "But we've seen Cotto beat, and beaten bad on two occasions. He was outclassed against [Manny] Pacquiao, and he took a beating against [Antonio] Margarito [in their first fight]. We haven't seen that with Floyd Mayweather yet. I think he is at the top of the game right now, and he's gonna have more options to do the things that he does in the ring."

But Tarver, who has pulled his share of upsets -- he was the first man to knock out Roy Jones Jr., and he upset Danny Green in July in his most recent fight -- still gives Cotto a shot.

"Cotto's gonna have to be perfect," Tarver said. "Cotto's gonna have to be physical, have his defense intact and he's gonna have to match Floyd. When Floyd opens up, he's gonna have to punch with him. That's how you negate speed, and that's a big risk, but his reward is so gigantic that's he's gonna have to be willing to lay it all on the line. And if has to go out on his shield, go out trying to get that victory."

Quantity and quality on June 2 show

April, 24, 2012
Quadruple Gene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsAmong Showtime cards featuring at least four televised fights, the June 2 show may rival them all.

New Showtime Sports chief Stephen Espinoza, a boxing fan since childhood, is now in a position to program the network's boxing events. And he's serving up a rare -- and interesting -- four-fight card June 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. It looks like there's a little bit for everyone:

• Former light heavyweight champ (and current Showtime analyst) Antonio Tarver (29-6, 20 KOs) will face Nigerian slugger Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs) in a cruiserweight bout.

• Former undisputed junior middleweight champ Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs), coming off a three-year layoff, will meet "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) at middleweight.

• Junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout (24-0,14 KOs) will defend against Delvin Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs).

• Bantamweights Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KOs) and Vusi Malinga (20-3, 12 KOs), of South Africa, will meet for a vacant title.

Amazingly, Showtime was able to get six promoters to collaborate on the card: Golden Boy, Gary Shaw, A.T. Entertainment (Tarver's company), Greg Cohen, Joe DeGuardia and Branco Milenkovic. And not only are these four solid matchups, an hour of preliminary bouts will be aired on Showtime Extreme.

It's only the third time that Showtime, which has been doing fights since 1986, has put on a card with at least four TV bouts, but the June 2 card is superior to the others, in my view.

In 1997, Don King promoted a five-fight telecast in Nashville that featured four world title fights (mostly mismatches) -- Terry Norris-Nick Rupa, Felix Trinidad-Kevin Lueshing, Henry Akinwande-Scott Welch and Khalid Rahilou-Frankie Randall -- plus Dierdre Gogarty-Debra Stroman in a women's bout.

In 2001, Main Events did a four-fight show at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., featuring Zab Judah-Reggie Green in a junior welterweight title bout, plus three prospects in four- or six-rounders: Juan Diaz, Rocky Juarez and Francisco Bojado.

"We are very proud to bring this unique night of boxing to Showtime -- eight world-class fighters, four fights, two world title fights," Espinoza said. "We have legends, rising stars, youth versus experience and world title fights. There are no easy fights on this card."

Everybody assembled Monday at the JW Marriott L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles to formally announce the card. Here's what some involved (Rodriguez and Malinga were not present) had to say:

"When you try to constructively critique someone [Tarver has served as color commentator for Kayode fights], you hope they go back to the gym and get better. I wasn't on his bandwagon. I saw loopholes in his game, and it was my job to tell him that. He didn't want to take heed to that, and now I need to show him. I'm telling Lateef that his dream is going to come crumbling down.

"I'm standing here today to tell Lateef Kayode and everybody he's got coming to support him on June 2 that his dreams are going to come tumbling down. It's a big difference when you are in that ring by yourself and facing the heat and fire I'm going to bring, and all [trainer] Freddie Roach can do is give you water. It's a whole new ballgame. Welcome to the big time, brother."

"I will knock you out. I will beat the crap out of you. I want to be a world champion and I want to fight world champions. I want to prove to all of you that I am better than him, that I am stronger than him. When Tarver commented on me on Showtime, he never said anything good. I never disrespected him, and I said, 'Champ, what have I done to you?' I'm going to prove myself and prove that I am ready for this man, that I am ready for the best. He has the name, but he doesn't have the heart. He doesn't have the power. The way he fights, I can get this guy.

"He doesn't have crap. Tarver is done. I never disrespected anyone in my life, but on June 2, this guy is done."

"I'm not coming back for the money. I've got money and I've got friends who have money, so it's good there. The reason I'm coming back is to make a statement. I could have fought a tuneup, but boxing is about accomplishments, and to me, that means winning another world championship.

"My last fight was a bad one for me. I probably should have taken a fight before it, but I was never retired. I could have come back a year and a half ago, but the kind of deal and opportunity we were looking for just wasn't there. It is now.

"This guy [Quillin] is hungry and he wants to win a championship. I love his enthusiasm, so I'm looking forward to fighting him. If he thinks I'm making a mistake fighting him after being off, if he thinks I'm not what I used to be, now's his chance to show it. Let's do it. I'm ready for a fight."

"I'm just getting started. I'm still climbing the ladder, so there's no way I overlook any opponent, especially a fighter that is going to wind up in the Hall of Fame. I'm going to win this fight. I'm in fighting shape. I'm fired up. I'm ready right now to take advantage of this great opportunity.

"I don't fight for my family. I don't fight for my friends. Kid Chocolate fights for himself. If you've never been to the planet Pluto, I'm going to take you there. Pluto is where all the stars are, so if you want to go to Pluto, come out and support me."

"I'm super excited and I know my fight with Delvin will be great. Trust me, Delvin comes to fight, so this is going to be a good, hard fight for a while, but I'm working in the gym on making it easier.

"I know I'm not a household name in boxing. That's why I'm so appreciative of this opportunity and looking forward to taking full advantage of it. I'm looking to fight any of the other titleholders or the biggest names out there."

Santa Cruz
"I'm from Lincoln Heights [Calif.], so for me to be fighting in my own backyard in my very first world title fight is beyond my wildest dreams. I've been waiting for something like this, and now my opportunity of a lifetime is here.

"I know Malinga is an aggressive fighter who's waited a long time to fight for the IBF title, but I've waited my whole life. I can't wait for June 2 to show what I can do on the biggest stage at the Home Depot on Showtime."
We've known for a couple of weeks that cruiserweight Antonio Tarver (the former light heavyweight champ) would face powerful Lateef Kayode, with middleweights Winky Wright and "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin squaring off in the co-feature on an edition of "Showtime Championship Boxing."

The card had been set for May 26, but organizers were still searching for a site. Well, they have one now -- as well as a new date and an expanded telecast.

According to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who promotes Wright and Quillin, the card will move to June 2 and take place at the outdoor tennis arena at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The stadium, which seats roughly 8,000 and is truly one of boxing's best venues, has hosted a number of fights over the years, including epic first and third chapters of the four-fight Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez series.

Schaefer said he, Al Haymon (adviser to Tarver and Quillin) and Kayode's promoter, Gary Shaw, had all agreed to the deal and that Showtime approved moving the date.

In addition, Schaefer said, Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza has given the green light for the telecast to include four live bouts -- the two top fights as well as two others that Schaefer didn't want to disclose because they aren't finalized.

"Four big fights in one night. It will be like a pay-per-view, but without the pay-per-view price," Schaefer told ESPN.com by phone on his drive into the office Wednesday morning. "We are currently working on the other fights and hope to have them wrapped by the end of the week. But this will be real fights."

As for the site, Schaefer said he finalized a deal with arena owner AEG (which owns arenas around the world, including Staples Center in Los Angeles, and which also owns a minority stake in Golden Boy) for the card on Tuesday night.

"They are going to put their promotional muscle behind this show at the Home Depot Center," he said. "They want to make it the biggest boxing night in their facility's history."