It’s been a relatively bad week for Antonio Tarver – culminated at Thursday’s New Jersey State Athletic Commission hearing in which the board voted to uphold the original decision, made by commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr., to suspend heavyweight Antonio Tarver for six months after he failed a drug test connected to his Aug. 14 draw against Steve Cunningham at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Tarver will get credit for time served, the only bright spot for him, not that he cared, evident after taking to Twitter in an effort to convince anyone out there that he is part of a bigger conspiracy based on his past tribulations. It is worth mentioning he’s failed a drug test before, that one related to his June 2012 draw (later ruled a No Contest) against Lateef Kayode.
Now, it looks like things could get worse before they get better as the true victim of these circumstances, Steve Cunningham, has made it clear that he is looking to take legal action against Tarver.
Cunningham was a guest on “The Morning Punch-In” Show and told hosts RB (Michelle Rosado) and Jae (Jeandra LeBeauf) that he plans to pursue a civil litigation.
“I been talking to my lawyers and we’ve just been waiting for the New Jersey State Athletic commission to come out with their findings, and now we’re going to be able to take this to a civil lawsuit. I’m not trying to get any money from this man, I just want to set a standard,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham plans to donate any winnings to a heart foundation in his daughter’s name. You may remember that Cunningham’s daughter, Kennedy, received a new heart after suffering from a rare heart defect stemming from birth.
It is sad to report that the idea of a lawsuit was part of a contingency plan for Cunningham but only in the case of Tarver failing any testing leading up to their August 2015 scrap. He admitted as much during an interview on Thaboxingvoice radio show weeks prior to his fight with Tarver.
What’s sad about it all is that Cunningham’s worst fears were realized even with the microscope under Tarver.
During the TBV interview, Cunningham also made it clear that he believes steroids are a major issue in boxing, much more so than most are aware. He echoed those sentiments on the Bad Culture Radio Network show by saying PEDs are being used by fighters in a rampant fashion.
Cunningham wasn’t done with Tarver, though. He went after the 47-year-old fighter for his child support issues and his problems with gambling, both resulted in massive debt.
But Cunningham has a right to be upset for various reasons. He voiced his frustrations to RB and Jae regarding the punishment Tarver received, claiming it wasn’t stiff enough. Steve brought up the point that SpikeTV, the network Tarver has worked as a commentator for, has yet to let him go.
Responding to questions about the nature of Tarver’s punishment for testing positive, Cunningham said, “It’s a slap in the face to me, it’s a slap in the face to my children because this dude could’ve seriously hurt me. It’s a slap in the face to the boxing fans and to boxing itself.”
Steve went on to say that we should “question all the wins in [Tarver’s] career” and that he should not be inducted into any hall of fame’s.
A lawsuit would be significant, especially if a verdict favors Cunningham. While frivolous lawsuits never solve anything, this is not frivolous at all. Something needs to be done in an effort to make would-be users more conscious of their choices. If fighters see that a positive test comes with the possibility of a hefty civil lawsuit then the precedence could be exactly what is needed to shift the culture.
After all, what’s the use of cheating in order to further your career and financial profile if you risk losing even more in a civil lawsuit.
Cunningham has had a respectable career and he is certainly not done, but if he can obtain a win in civil court and provide boxing with a precedence as important as this one, then it could be what his legacy is based on when he decides to finalize his career.