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Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham

Tarver started the war of words with Tyson says Fenech

Can Antonio Tarver handle a motivated Mike Tyson?
Can Antonio Tarver handle a motivated Mike Tyson?

By Paul Upham: "Mike Tyson didn't start this. Antonio Tarver did," says Jeff Fenech. The Australian three-time world boxing champion, trainer and close friend of "Iron" Mike Tyson wants to make it perfectly clear from the beginning who started this new war of words. The last few weeks Tarver has been calling out Tyson for a fight and the former undisputed heavyweight champion once know as the 'baddest man on the planet' is ready to teach the current light heavyweight world champion a lesson.

"I've talked to Mike on the phone in the UK and he wants the fight," Fenech told SecondsOut on Monday. "He was very dirty about what Tarver has been saying about him."

As far as Fenech was concerned, Tyson was retired for good when he signalled to referee Joe Cortez last June that his boxer's fight with Kevin McBride was to be stopped at the end of round 6.

"I never wanted Mike to fight again," explained Fenech. "But when Tarver started bad mouthing Mike and disrespecting him, now its personal. Mike is my great mate and I only want what's best for him. If he wants to knock Tarver out of the ring, I will be there to train him."

39 year-old Tyson 50-6 (44) 2 NC, who is currently in the UK on a speaking tour, always had trouble with much taller opponents. After his loss to Danny Williams in July 2004, it was puzzling that Tyson was brought back against such a physically imposing fighter as McBride (6'6'', 270lbs) at a time when his confidence needed to be restored.

But against the 6'2'' tall, but smaller sized Tarver who would enter the fight somewhere around 210lbs, Tyson will still be the biggest man in the ring at around 235lbs.

"It's a big difference fighting someone who is 200lbs compared to 270," said Fenech. "Tarver is not big and Mike will kill him. I liked Tarver. But he is the one who started this. He started calling out Mike and bad mouthing him. Tarver should have left Mike quietly in retirement. He wants to talk and make money off Mike. This is what this is all about."

37 year-old "Magic Man" Tarver 24-3 (18) is currently filming the sixth Rocky movie titled "Rocky Balboa" with Sylvester Stallone, where he plays fictional heavyweight champion of the world Mason "The Line" Dixon. It appears the southpaw now wants to make the move up in weight in real life by jumping into the ring with Tyson. "I think the heavyweight division is in dire need of CPR and I'm gonna be the breath of fresh air," he told reporters recently about his planned move.

Fenech points to Tarver's last points win over Roy Jones Jr on October 1 as to evidence that Tyson will be too strong and powerful.

"Watching Tarver and Roy Jones put me to sleep," he said. "Mike can beat Tarver 100%. Everyone saw how he fought against Roy Jones. He was scared of Roy. If you are intimidated by the Roy Jones now, imagine what Tarver would do if Tyson roared at him. I really hope this fight happens in 2006. It's up to Mike, Tarver and their people now to work the details out, but I'm ready."

Paul Upham
Contributing Editor

light heavyweight world champion Antonio Tarver, pic by Tom Hogan
light heavyweight world champion Antonio Tarver, pic by Tom Hogan

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