Ever heard Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver speak?
He uses commas and periods to connect words with the kind of fluency Picasso used lines to join geometric shapes. The overall effect is often baffling. And search me as to what it really means most of the time. But darn it if his verbal assault on the facts doesn't often seem to resonate with brilliance.
Let's face it. When some fighters speak, the words coexist like inmates doing a ten stretch in a federal penitentiary — uneasily. When Tarver is in the mood to give you his thoughts, which is pretty much always, his sentences are like a commune during the Summer of Love. Every syllable full of love for the next and no end in sight.
And it's a good thing the Magic Man wasn't hanging with E.F. Hutton back in the day. A whole generation's retirement plans may have been turned upside down. Back then, when E.F. Hutton spoke, apparently everybody listened. Had the Magic Man been in the room at the time, E.F. wouldn't have been able to get a word in edge wise.
Currently, most of Tarver's verbal bombast has been aimed at Roy Jones Jr. and, to a lesser extent, Bernard Hopkins. That is, when he is not roasting HBO and the role it plays in, as Tarver suggests, promoting fights and protecting its house fighters.
Recently, Tarver has applied his own labels to Jones and Hopkins, a pair of future Hall of Famers. Jones is, amongst other things, a punk-pint sized donkey-bipedal female canine. I've paraphrased here, and I'll leave it to you to fill in the blanks. In reference to Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, Tarver's rhetoric has taken on a slightly more creative flourish. Hopkins is “The Extortionist,” an allusion to Hopkins' unbending-or self-defeating, depending on how you look at it, negotiating style, a negotiating style which has resulted in Bernard negotiating himself out of some lucrative paydays.
In the never ending game of boxing he- said-she-said, apparently Hopkins made disparaging remarks about Tarver, and Tarver responded by inviting Hopkins up to 175 to settle their differences. The invitation, needless to say, was not so much an invitation as the kind of tirade that had the Magic Man's mother reaching for a bar of soap for deposit between Tarver's high beam, pearly whites. As for the Executioner, he now has a more profitable score to settle with the Oscar De La Hoya at whatever weight the Golden Boy decides is the middleweight limit.
The thing about Hopkins, though, is that he talks, and then he talks, and, much like the Magic Man, sometimes he talks some more. But Hopkins backs it up. The Executioner threatens to give opponents professional beatings, then he goes out and does it. Tarver could learn something from Hopkins.
Tarver has been telling everyone for months now that he whipped Jones' ass (pint sized donkey) when they met late last year. The fact is that Tarver fought a very good fight, exceeding the expectations of pretty much everybody, but when it mattered most–in the championship rounds –the Magic Man could not perform the sleight of hand required to put any significant leather on Jones. Tarver chose to play it safe when greatness mandated a rabbit be pulled out of the hat.
Though it should be said that the judges' scorecards had Tarver losing by a ludicrously large margin, it was still Jones who in the closing rounds fought with the urgency necessary to pull the fight out of the fire. It was a close fight, which in moments of humility Tarver has conceded, but it was still Jones who deserved the decision for digging down deep in the 11th and 12th rounds.
A rematch is a tantalizing possibility for fight fans and looks like it may be in the offing. Recent reports suggest Tarver has signed for a rematch which could take place in May. The contract, though, still awaits Jones signature.
It's one contract Jones needs to sign. The overall effect of Tarver's ongoing campaign to call Jones out has had all the subtlety of a Golota low blow, but darn it once again if that Tarver doesn't talk a good game. If Jones walks away from a rematch now his reputation will be irreparably damaged.
As for Tarver, if he handles Jones this time around with half the skill, daring and dexterity he displays whenever a microphone meets his acquaintance, Roy could be in trouble. Big trouble.
Don't believe me? Just ask the Magic Man.