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Tarver Jr. to fight on his father's card

9/17/2014

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."