Antonio Tarver has spent a lifetime around the game of boxing, having captured a litany of major titles across divisions and even a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympic games. On Monday, at the age of 48, Tarver announced on The MMA Hour that he has moved into the MMA side of things as well, as “The Magic Man” will serve as the new striking coach of the Blackzilians squad down in Coconut Creek, Florida.
So given Tarver’s standing in combat sports, it’s only natural that the conversation eventually turned to the most divisive topic currently bridging the two worlds of MMA and boxing: the potential mega-fight between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and undefeated all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather. And not surprisingly, Tarver was blunt when asked about the Irishman’s chances.
“Not a chance in hell,” Tarver said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Because Conor McGregor can’t beat the top-20 in the division, how the f*ck is he going to beat Floyd Mayweather? Not a f*cking chance in hell (of even a puncher’s chance), because he’s not punching with those four-ounce gloves on. He’s punching with 10-ounce gloves on. Big difference.
“It’s a money fight. I don’t know if it’s a mockery, but it’s a money fight. That’s what it’s all about. Conor McGregor can’t beat Nate Diaz in a boxing match. In a boxing match, [Diaz] will beat his ass, and there’s a whole lot of other fighters out there who will beat his ass in a boxing match.”
Tarver’s sentiments are nothing new. A slew of MMA and boxing greats have voiced similar doubts about McGregor’s chances in the ring against Mayweather, who at 49-0, is widely considered to be one of the best boxers ever and certainly the best defensive fighter of his era. And while the bout is far from a done deal, Tarver is confident that Mayweather would be able to handle McGregor in whichever way he desires.
“I think Floyd can knock him out, because Floyd is a boxer,” Tarver said. “[McGregor] is not going to know what to do. He hasn’t had the repetitions. He hasn’t had the experiences. He don’t know what it’s going to take. Sh*t, he gets tired in a five-round fight, even though they’re going five rounds and they’re wrestling. What the hell you think is going to happen in round six, seven, if he gets that far? When he’s mentally fatigued and tired? Because I’ve seen him in the Octagon getting mentally fatigued and tired. So he just needs to be taught.”
Tarver went on to offer his services to McGregor, promising that he could teach McGregor the adjustments he needed to defeat Mayweather, even if it wouldn’t necessarily change the outcome of the fight.
“Boxing, those three minutes are totally different than anything else in the world that you would experience,” Tarver said. “So, Conor McGregor, when he ain’t got those four-ounce gloves on, what’s going to happen in round seven when those 10-ounce gloves start feeling like a pound on each hand? He’s not used to that. He’s not accustomed to it, so he’s got to have to have someone in there who knows boxing inside and out to teach him the intricate parts or what to expect from Floyd Mayweather. Someone that knows Floyd Mayweather inside and out, that knows the boxing game inside and out, that can equip him with the things that he needs to know to have a chance to shock the world.
“It’s going to take somebody special. It ain’t going to take nobody just catching f*cking mitts, looking beautiful on the mitts, because that ain’t what it’s about. It’s about anticipating, it’s about reacting, because sometimes you ain’t even got time to think. You’ve just got to react, and your reactions have got to be on-point. So, Conor McGregor is going to have to go through a school of boxing in a short period of time, and he’s going to have to take somebody that can teach him properly, even just with his movements, even with the little things. He may not need a lot, but he’s going to need the right things. I can’t speak on it, but when they first started talking about that, he should’ve had the right person then. And he still can get it, but he can’t continue to wait.”
Tarver also pooh-poohed the idea that Mayweather-McGregor should be anything more than a one-off, arguing against other Boxing vs. MMA contests like the ones proposed by Jimi Manuwa and Anderson Silva against David Haye and Roy Jones Jr., respectively.
“I’m all about entertainment, but I don’t want this sh*t to get carried away. Boxing is boxing and MMA is MMA,” Tarver said. “Now, it’s a unique opportunity with Conor McGregor and Mayweather, of course, and it’s all about that bread. If you were their managers, of course you would want that fight to happen. I don’t if it’s really going to do boxing a service, or could it be a Manny Pacquiao type of fight? As much firepower as Manny Pacquiao has, that fight was a dud, so what the hell is Conor McGregor going to bring that Manny Pacquiao didn’t bring? That’s what I’m trying to think. I’m trying to flip my head around that. And when you look at Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor, and you think boxing, how far away are those plants?
“But like I said, come on, man, when you look at Nate Diaz boxing Conor McGregor, that closes the show for me,” Tarver continued. “That closes it for me. Come on, man. You’re talking about A-fighters versus D-fighters. There’s levels to this sh*t. There’s levels to this. Conor McGregor’s ass could possibly get hurt if he don’t prepare himself correctly. It’s a hurt sport, and Mayweather is not a knockout puncher, but Conor McGregor ain’t getting hit by real professional boxers either.”