Antonio Tarver says Joe Calzaghe ducked him in 2008

By Boxing News - 04/13/2020 - Comments

By Charles Brun: Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver says Joe Calzaghe was supposed to face him in 2008 after his win over IBF champion Richie Woodhall, but he chose to take the path of least resistance in facing Roy Jones Jr.

Instead of fighting Tarver (31-6-1, 22 KOs), Calzaghe opted to take the weaker choice in the badly over-the-hill Roy Jones Jr. before hanging up his gloves afterward.

The tall 6’2″ southpaw Tarver would have been a much harsher style match-up for Calzaghe, and he would have had problems winning.

Tarver thinks Calzaghe ducked him by taking the more comfortable option in facing Jones, who wasn’t the guy he once was. By the time Calzaghe fought Jones, he’d lost twice to Tarver and been knocked out by Glen Johnson.

Whether you want to call it a duck job by Calzaghe, it was clear that he chose a weaker opponent in Jones Jr. rather than Tarver.

Tarver says Calzaghe took the easier path

“After I dismantled Woods 🇬🇧 Joe Calzaghe was supposed to be next… #TarversTake 🎥🎧🎤 “Let’s just say he decided to take the road with less resistance”! I was the risk the greats were afraid to take… 🎩#TrueStory,” said Tarver on his Instagram.

Had Calzaghe faced Tarver in 2008, there’s a good chance he would have beaten him. Still, it would have looked better if Calzaghe had fought the more deserving fighter in Tarver than Jones. But it’s possible that Calzaghe made his decision to face Jones based on his popularity.

Tarver was no longer at his best by 2008, as he had been beaten by Bernard Hopkins in 2006. After Calzaghe passed up Tarver, ‘The Magic Man’ took on the young Chad Dawson, who twice beat him.

Calzaghe gets a pass for choosing not to take on Tarver because he beat Bernard Hopkins in April of 2008. With Hopkins having beaten Tarver two years earlier in 2006, Calzaghe might have decided that it was pointless for him to take the fight with ‘The Magic Man.’ There would be no gain in facing Tarver other the chance for him to capture his IBF title and show that could be another talented fighter.

This wasn’t the shot Dawson that fans have seen in recent years. Back in 2008, Dawson was considered the #1 fighter in the 175 lb division, and he proved it by beating Tarver x 2.

Roy Jones Jr. presented less risk for Calzaghe

The combination of easy money and less risk likely led to Calzaghe taking the fight with Jones Jr. instead of Tarver. The casual boxing fans in the U.S were still interested in seeing Roy Jones fight at this late stage in his career, so it was a smart move by Calzaghe to face him.

Tarver wasn’t a big name with the casuals, even though he had lots of talent. Other than Tarver’s victories over Jones, he hadn’t beaten any massive stars during his career. Tarver had lost to Hopkins, and that gave Calzaghe the cover to take the softer fight with Jones to finish out his career.

The guy that many boxing fans believed Calzaghe ducked wasn’t Tarver. It was Andre Ward, who was starting to make a name for himself at the time. There was already a lot of pressure from boxing fans on Calzaghe to face Ward.

Additionally, Adonis Stevenson was another fighter that fans thought Calzaghe was ducking at the time. Stevenson was at his best, knocking everyone out and look unstoppable. Only Calzaghe knows why he chose not to face Stevenson and Ward. It looked at the time that Calzaghe wanted no part of Ward or Stevenson. So instead of staying around to fight them, Calzaghe retired.

The big question is, did Calzaghe retire to avoid a potential loss to Ward and Stevenson? Only Calzaghe knows the answer to that. This writer suspects that he decided to walk away with his perfect record intact rather than risk it against Ward and Stevenson.