SoftPedia News | October 20, 2005

Sylvester Stallone has finally agreed to star in the sixth Rocky flick. The famous action man will write and direct the movie in which he plays the legend that is Rocky Balboa.

“We’ll try to capture the essence of the first couple of films,” Stallone told Variety. Boxing champion Antonio Tarver is apparently in talks to be Rocky’s opponent in the final bout. Apparently, Stallone was courting Roy Jones, Jr. for the role of Mason Dixon in new movie “Rocky Balboa”, but rumors claim Tarver is in final talks to wear the gloves of Dixon in the sequel, according to contactmusic.com.

Antonio Tarver has also appeared in Stallone’s TV show THE CONTENDER.

Tarver has won the “Magic Man” name for he has made 23 opponents disappear in the ring, and he has helped take a sport in the doldrums to the next level, exciting mainstream sports fans as well as hardcore fight followers – a task many believed was impossible.

The man who resides at the top of the boxing heap here in 2005 was born in Orlando, Florida, on November 21, 1968. At the tender age of 10, Tarver began boxing at a local Boys’ Club, but five years later he gave up the sport, after his family relocated to a different neighborhood. Oddly enough, during those first five years in the sport he happened to fight a young man who would play a major role in his career later on – Roy Jones Jr.

Concentrating on football and other teenage pursuits in his high school years, boxing was the furthest thing from Antonio’s mind until 1988, when he saw his old rival Jones fighting for the United States in the Seoul Olympic Games.

He earned a spot on the US Olympic team that went to Atlanta in 1996, where he made history, becoming the only US amateur boxer ever to win the national championships, the Pan-Am games and the world championships all in one year.

At the world championships, he beat future cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov in the semifinals and then Diosvany Vega in the finals, four months prior to the Olympics.

But Tarver feels he was cheated at the Olympic Games, where he eventually won a Bronze medal. “I dominated the second round of the fight I lost (to Jirov) and came out two points down. I’ve always had great defense and when I look back at the fight now, I don’t see how he was scoring any blows”, he said.

Antonio Tarver made his professional debut at the age of 28 on February 18, 1997, with a second round TKO of Joaquin Garcia.

In June 23, 2000, Tarver suffered the first defeat of his professional career to Eric Harding.

“I’m not making excuses, but if you look at the fight, I dominated until my jaw got broke,” said Tarver. “With the broken jaw, I was unable to finish as strongly as I wanted to. Look at the first nine rounds, its obvious who the better fighter was.”, he added.

The famous boxer enlisted the services of former world champion Buddy McGirt and conditioning coach Dudley Pierce, alongside his promoter Joe DeGuardia and Star Boxing to help him reach those goals.

On January 25, 2002, Tarver earned a shot at the IBF light heavyweight title with a 12 round decision win over Reggie Johnson, a victory that also earned Antonio the NABF and USBA 175-pound titles. On July 20, 2002, he put his guaranteed title shot on the line against the only man to ever beat him, Eric Harding. It was a risky move, but one that only true champions will make. And in just five rounds, Tarver had avenged his defeat via TKO.

Nine months later, on April 26, 2003, Tarver finally got his world title shot and made the most of it, shutting out former world champion Montell Griffin over 12 rounds to win the vacant WBC and IBF titles.

On November 8, 2003, Tarver finally pushed Roy Jones Jr. into a title fight, which is remembered as a 12 round battle that saw the pound for pound king punished by Tarver like he had never been before. Yet when the decision was announced Jones had regained his championship belts via a highly controversial majority decision.

That rematch came on May 15, 2004, and with Tarver’s now immortal question “You got any excuses tonight, Roy?” ringing in the ears of fight fans, one of the most memorable nights in recent history kicked off. Two rounds later, Tarver landed the shot heard ‘round the boxing world, a single left hand that knocked Jones out for the first time in his magnificent career, and after years of blood, sweat, and tears, the world found out what Antonio Tarver already knew – he was a star.

On June 18, 2005, at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, Tarver regained his light heavyweight championship with a stirring 12 round unanimous decision over Glen Johnson, re-establishing his supremacy at 175 pounds.

But the man Tarver once took that crown from – Roy Jones Jr. – is still not convinced, and on October 1, these two rivals will fight for a third time in a rubber match that the boxing world is eagerly anticipating.