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Spike TV will televise a heavyweight showdown between Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver (31-6, 22 KOs) and Steve “USS” Cunningham (28-7, 13 KOs) on Friday night, Aug. 14,  at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Tarver is of course best known for besting Roy Jones Jr in two out of three meetings while Cunningham is a former Cruiserweight champion. 

Tarver's stated goal is to become the oldest heavyweight champion of the world in boxing history. At age 46, he no doubt sees that as a doable proposition given the vulnerabilities of Wladimir Klitschko and the newly minted champion, Deontay Wilder.

“I respect Steve Cunningham,” Tarver explained in a Miami press release. “I’m not looking past him, I’m looking through him. If I have to go through Wilder to get Klitschko, so be it. I’m getting that world heavyweight title and when I defeat Klitschko it’ll be the biggest story in sports. But I know that I won’t get my title shot unless I get by Cunningham.

“The ‘Magic Man’ is bringing 1000 tricks in his bag but it’s only going to take one to take him out. I’ve been working hard in training camp and he hasn’t been focused. Steve is a solid durable opponent who has proven himself in the heavyweight division, coming off a close eliminator that many thought he won. I have the test of fighting a guy who you can’t make quit, so you have to knock him out because he’s proven his heart and guts. Steve’s also motivated because he knows what beating me can do for his career.”

In Tarver's defense, he may not be as remembered by history as well as he should. He defeated Jones Jr. twice, split a pair of decisions with Glen Johnson but bested some decent fighters in Montell Griffin, Eric Harding (avenging a loss) and Reggie Johnson. He has lost big fights against Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson (twice). 

He'll be best remembered, however, by that 2004 knockout of Roy Jones Jr that shocked a boxing world that thought Jones Jr was the best pound for pound. 

Tarver revitalized his career with an impressive stoppage of Emanuel Steward protege Johnathon Banks where his technical skills were put on display. 

“I learned the fundamentals of boxing and that’s why I’m still here at 46,” Tarver said. “My whole game is built on deception because, by the looks of it, I’m not supposed to be as fast, as quick and strong, as tough, or hit as hard as I do. So, that makes it hard to prepare for the fighter like me. I am sure Cunningham may have prepared for a physical war but has he prepare for the mental part of our fight? He’ll be fighting in a ring full of mine fields, one wrong step and, Kaboom!”

Tarver's trainer, Orlando Cuellar, has taken over the reigns on the "Magic Man" and has him looking as good as he has in years. 

“We know each other much better now in terms of how much to push him in camp and what to expect from each other,” Cuellar said. “He may be 46 but he’s never been beat up. His ring savvy is off the charts and he’s knowledgeable. Antonio’s a sharp puncher and vicious competitor. He does exactly what I ask of him in the gym. I’ve come to realize that he doesn’t need 160-200 rounds of sparring for a fight. He remembers everything from his fights against so many great fighters, storing information in his mind to use in his fight. He outthinks his opponent. I watched him set things up and put it all together. Antonio is a special fighter, super intelligent, a breeze to work with and most capable in the ring. I’m blessed to be working with him.

“Cunningham is going to come in and apply pressure, but he’s never fought anybody as elusive and intelligent as Antonio, who can catch or slip, block or counter. He has so many tricks up his sleeve. Antonio is going to fight to his speed. Just when Cunningham thinks he has Antonio where he wants him, it’s going to be too late and Antonio is going to knockout Cunningham. Tarver is a much sharper puncher than people think. Like Antonio says, we’re not looking past Cunningham, we’re looking through him.”

I'll pick Tarver in this match-up although I don't think he'll stop Cunningham as impressively as he did Banks...I see this as a distance fight, say 117-111 in points. Cunningham always looks TIGHT to me in the ring, he's heavily muscled but that never translated into punching power for him. Cunningham himself is no rising superstar at the age of 39 and Tarver appears to have more in the tank despite being seven years older. 



Talks between middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez have ended for the time being.

The fight, which would have taken place on May 2, had been in works for the past few months, but Alvarez grew tired of waiting for Cotto to finalize the deal and decided to move on and face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on May 2, Alvarez's promoter Oscar De La Hoya said.

"The deal is off the table with Cotto," De La Hoya said Saturday. "They did not accept. So Canelo decided to move on. We had a deadline. We had our fifth deadline [Friday night], and Canelo has decided, because Cotto and [attorney] Gaby [Penagaricano] turned down the deal, he is obviously not going to be waiting for nobody. He has to move on and resume his career and we have to lock down an opponent. He's still fighting May 2."

Penagaricano isn't happy that Canelo has removed himself from the negotiation table.

"This is not about deadlines. This is about trying to making a deal. You either make it or you don't," Penagaricano said. "I did speak to Oscar late [Friday night]. He said, 'We have to make a deal.' I said, 'We're not there yet. If you have to move on, I respect that. If you have to move, you have to move.'"

"It's always the financial side. There was no agreement on that," he said. "I don't know what would have happened if we had more time. If Oscar doesn't have more time, he doesn't have more time. It's a great fight, but Miguel doesn't need it for his career. So if it doesn't happen, so be it. He's OK. No problem. If Oscar needs to move he needs to move. We're not going to go back to them. We'll huddle and meet Miguel on Tuesday, and we will start planning."



The wait for an American heavyweight champion is over.

Deontay Wilder turned in a star-making performance has he bludgeoned Bermane Stiverne over twelve one-sided rounds.

Wilder answered a lot of questions about his ability to go twelve rounds and whether or not he could take a punch. In control for the majority of the fight, Wilder took the WBC belt with scores of 120-107, 119-108, and 118-109.

"I'm so excited. I'm excited to bring this belt back to America, officially," Wilder said. "It's going to mean a lot."

No one knew exactly how good Wilder was. Critics pointed to the fact that he had been knocked down earlier in his career and that he had never been past four rounds. Not to mention a fight resume that contains 32 no-hopers.

"I think I answered a lot of questions tonight," Wilder said. "We knew we could go 12 rounds. We knew we could take a punch. All the hard work was done in camp. I had fun. I'm just excited."

Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), 29, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, became the first American to win a heavyweight title since Shannon Briggs, who lost in his first defense to Russia's Sultan Ibragimov seven months later. Since then, the belts have resided in Europe, mainly with the Klitschko brothers.

"He proved everyone wrong," said Jay Deas, who co-trains Wilder with Mark Breland. "Can he go 12 rounds? Yes, he can. Does he have a power punch? Yes, he does. Can he beat adversity? Yes, he can. Can he be the next heavyweight champion of the world? And yes, he is."

Bermane Stiverne, however, showed very little head movement or an understanding of how to cut off the ring.

"I think I spent too much time in the gym," said Stiverne, who lives in Las Vegas, grew up in Canada and is the only Haitian-born heavyweight titleholder. "We started training in August. I was ready in November, and then we had to cut things back a little bit. That had an effect on why I wasn't myself tonight."

While Wilder landed 227 of 621 punches (37 percent), according to CompuBox statistics, Stiverne landed just 110 of 327 (34 percent).


"Wilder definitely won it. He did a great job," said Don King, Stiverne's promoter. "He was having fun. I'm very surprised he won so easily. But you can't win a fight without throwing punches. This is not a waltz. I've seen it happen many times before. It's just the way it goes. I have to take off my hat to Deontay. Stiverne wasn't active enough. All praise to Deontay Wilder."

Stiverne is a good puncher, however, and he tested Wilder's chin on a few occasions.

"I definitely showed the world what I am capable of," Wilder said. "I really didn't think it would go four rounds, but he could take a great punch, so I thought we might be in for the long haul."

They began to trade and jaw at each other in the second round before Wilder appeared to stun Stiverne in the final seconds. Stiverne lurched forward and they wound up toppling to the mat, but referee Tony Weeks did not rule a knockdown.

Hard punches were exchanged in the fifth round, and the 6-foot-7, 219-pound Wilder wobbled the 6-2, 239-pound Stiverne with a right hand. When Stiverne connected with a clean left hook in the sixth, Wilder did not budge.

As the fight wore on, Wilder began to move more and Stiverne was obviously frustrated, shouting at Wilder in the sixth round, "Stand here and fight!"

Wilder had a huge seventh round, hurting Stiverne and sending him into the ropes with a right hand. In fact, Wilder landed several of them and Stiverne somehow managed to stay on his feet even though Wilder outlanded him 23-4 in the round.


"We knew he would try to come, and we knew he was tough. He got a great chin," Wilder said. "I appreciate him accepting the challenge. I just wanted to show the world what Deontay Wilder was capable of. I don't want anyone to doubt me anymore."

Stiverne continued to walk into Wilder's right hand in the ninth. His head would snap, and his eyes were swelling. Clearly in need of a knockout, Stiverne tried to press Wilder in the 12th round, but he looked way too  fatigued.

"I felt 100 percent, but I couldn't cut the ring off like I usually do," Stiverne said. "I have to go back and look and see what happened and what mistakes I made. I was throwing hard punches, but I could only throw two of them at a time. I have to figure out what happened. I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do in the ring tonight. I don't want to take anything away from him. He fought a great fight, but I was not ready."

When the fight was over, Wilder shouted to the Showtime cameras, "Who can't box? Who can't box?"

What's next for Wilder?

"I want to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division," he said. "And I don't want to sit around. I want to fight four times a year. Whoever's ready, I'm ready."





Junior featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz dominated Jesus Ruiz en route to an eighth-round knockout victory Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.


Santa Cruz retained his 122-pound world title for the fourth time but he has faced mediocre opposition for the second time in a row.


 "It was a war, but we came prepared. He gave me a tough fight," Santa Cruz said. "We went after him and stopped him. I know he was prepared."

 Ruiz landed some hard body shots early on but eventually Santa Cruz overpowered him.

Like a steam engine going downhill, Santa Cruz become more dominant as the fight went on. Ruiz offered very little resistance.

 Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs), 26, a Mexico native living in Los Angeles, continued to pound away in the seventh round and had Ruiz in some trouble as he retreated to the ropes, but he survived the onslaught. It was over seconds into the eighth, as Santa Cruz hammered him relentlessly along the ropes until referee Kenny Bayless stepped in and called it off 29 seconds into the round.

Santa Cruz is a two division champion who defended the bantamweight title three times before annexing a junior feather weight belt. He is now targeting either Guillermo Rigondeaux or Abner Mares.  

 "Of course, I want the best. I want to be the best," he said. "I want Mares, [unified champion Guillermo] Rigondeaux, [titlist] Scott Quigg. Hopefully, it can be one of them next."


Alvarez has had with the Cotto's stonewalling tactics so opted to pas on the fight. The thing to read into here is why was Cotto stalling the Canelo fight (???)

"The deal is off the table with Cotto," said Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo's promoter. "They did not accept. So Canelo decided to move on. We had a deadline. We had our fifth deadline [Friday night], and Canelo has decided, because Cotto and [attorney] Gaby [Penagaricano] turned down the deal, he is obviously not going to be waiting for nobody.

"He has to move on and resume his career and we have to lock down an opponent. He's still fighting May 2."

Many feel that a Cotto/Mayweather rematch is now in play. If anything, it is a workable back-up plan if negotiations with Pacquiao fall through again.

Cotto would obviously prefer a rematch with Mayweather as opposed to a bout with Alvarez as the money is with "Money".

Should a Cotto bout take place, Mayweather can lay claim to three divisional titles, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight.

Penagaricano did acknowledge that Mayweather's advisor, Al Haymon, had contacted him about the prospect of a rematch.

"Al and I speak all the time. We have fighters together and other business together, but we haven't talked about that fight [since the initial conversation a few months ago]," Penagaricano said. "Of course, a rematch would be big, but it's not in the pipeline. I don't know what's going to happen."



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