- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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After 46-year-old Antonio Tarver, the former light heavyweight world champion now trying to make a go of it as a heavyweight, scored a nice knockout of Johnathon Banks on Dec. 11, he repeated his goal, which is to become the oldest heavyweight champion.
Sure, Tarver (31-6, 22 KOs) would like a shot at Klitschko. What heavyweight wouldn’t? But Tarver is not close to getting it and he knows it. So to help make his case, Tarver called out another smaller heavyweight in former cruiserweight and heavyweight titlist David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs), who doesn’t really fight much anymore but is still well known.
Tarver ended a 13-month layoff for his fight with Banks, but Haye, who has pulled out of several fights, has not fought since knocking out Dereck Chisora in July 2012. He has fought only twice since 2010, his other fight besides Chisora being an uncompetitive decision loss to Klitschko in a title unification bout.
Still Tarver is hoping to lure Haye into the ring. It might not be a great fight, but it sure would be an interesting buildup with how much smack they can both talk.
"In a perfect world I will be fighting Haye early next year," Tarver said. "He keeps insisting that he's the second-biggest name in the heavyweight division. I need him to be my set-up guy to beat in order for me to get a world title shot against Wladimir Klitschko. Haye has one-punch knockout ability and he's aggressive. Once I beat him, though, I want Klitschko. I will come to England and knock out Haye, knock him out cold. I'm 46 and I don't want to go through 12 guys like [Chris] Arreola, [Eddie] Chambers or [Steve] Cunningham to get Klitschko. He's waiting for me to lose so he doesn't have to fight me. I'm calling out Haye to get Klitschko.
“He talks a lot but the boxing world will see if Haye's serious about fighting again. Tarver versus Haye is a huge fight in London. I'm a star and I want to get paid. None of these cats know how to really promote a fight like Antonio Tarver. I'd prefer to fight Haye in Las Vegas but I'll come to England to KO his ass!”
Tarver said he has told his adviser, Al Haymon, that he wants him to try to line up a fight with Haye.
“If Haye announces he's coming out of retirement to fight somebody else, I'll be at that press conference to embarrass him, the same way I had to get my [Roy] Jones fight,” said Tarver, who made a scene at the news conference after Jones defeated John Ruiz to win a heavyweight belt in 2003. “No heavyweight can outbox me. They will have to knock me out to beat me and nobody's ever done that. I will become the oldest world heavyweight champion in boxing history to cement my legacy. I'm coming for Klitschko after I KO Haye. I'm going to shoot a real-life ‘Rocky’ movie with me chopping down Klitschko."
Tarver, of course, famously starred in the film “Rocky Balboa.” This, however, is real life. Maybe he would beat Haye, although he’d be the underdog? Against Klitschko? Few would give him a chance at all.
After 46-year-old Antonio Tarver, the former light heavyweight world champion now trying to make a go of it as a heavyweight, scored a nice knockout of Johnathon Banks on Dec.