Antonio Tarver was arrested earlier this month in Florida, posted bail and was released three days later, due to charges stemming from unpaid Las Vegas casino IOUs. A Florida Highway Patrol officer arrested Tarver on March 1 after a routine traffic stop.
Tarver told TSS the issue was now behind him for good.
“It’s resolved. I don’t have to go to court. I don’t have to show up for any hearing. I’m not on probation for anything. I handled the business. It’s done, and thankfully I had good support –people like Al Haymon – who didn’t have to step up for me and help me get out of a tough situation.”
Tarver was named in a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas alleging he failed to repay loans totaling over $200,000. The loans, frequently referred to as markers, were obtained in July 2012 at the Wynn Las Vegas resort. Tarver’s bail was set at $215,425, and was paid by Tarver’s longtime manager, Haymon.
While Tarver admitted he was aware of the debt, he said he was unaware of any issued court date and had not intended to evade the law.
“It was an incident that I overlooked, but a lot of things had happened at the time. In one week, I got suspended. In one week, I lost my job at Showtime. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time. And I did something stupid, granted, but I’ve never run away from anything.”
In June 2012, Tarver fought to a 12-round draw with cruiserweight Lateef Kayode in Carson, California. After the fight, Tarver tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone. The California State Athletic Commission suspended Tarver for one year, and the contest was changed to a no decision. Tarver subsequently lost his gig as a ringside analyst for Showtime.
Tarver said he simply couldn’t pay back the debt with so much uncertainly about his future.
“At that time, personally, not knowing what the future holds for me, I couldn’t do it. So it got out of hand and out of control. I couldn’t write that check not knowing what my future held. And it’s two and a half years later, and I’m still trying to rebuild my career.”
Tarver said he made the best decision he could at the time with the information he had. “I mean, hey, things happen… I don’t claim to be perfect. I’ve never played that role. I mean, life is hard just living. On top of everything else that comes along with it, when you are somewhat of a public figure, it’s even three times as hard. So I don’t make any excuses. I thought I made the best decision for my family at the time.”
Tarver said he holds no ill will for anyone involved, and that he’s happy to move forward with his life.
“When I got pulled over...they saw the warrant and they had to do their job. I’m not mad at anybody.”
Tarver said the majority of the $215,425 bail money was collected to pay off the debt. “They had a unique bail. They’d never seen that type of bail before! Basically, they said, look, if you want to get out, you’ve got to write this check, so it came down that.”
Tarver said all parties are now content. “Unfortunately, it was a situation that was in Nevada. They had their own agenda, and all they wanted was their money. And they got their money, so I don’t have a record. I don’t have anything. They got paid. It’s behind me.”
Tarver is a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titleholder. He started his professional fighting career in 1997 and held various belts throughout his career. Moreover, he defeated the preeminent fighter of his era, Roy Jones, Jr., two of the three times they fought, including once by devastating knockout in round two.
Last year, Tarver, age 45, won his second bout at heavyweight by TKO4 over journeyman Mike Sheppard.
Tarver said he plans to continue his boxing career in the sport’s glamour division.
In 2006, he portrayed fictitious heavyweight champion Mason Dixon in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, the sixth installment of the popular movie franchise. Now, Tarver said he’s ready to be the real life Mason Dixon. In fact, that’s how Tarver said he plans to pay Haymon back.
“How am I going to pay him back? By winning the heavyweight title. Because that’s what is in my heart. It’s not about a monetary payback. I’m going to win the heavyweight championship for Al Haymon and for myself, and to show the world just what I’m made of.”