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Antonio Tarver Actor Antonio Tarver  arrives at the premiere of MGM's 'Rocky Balboa' at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California.


Make a move, see how opponent reacts,
and 'take a picture', says Antonio Tarver

By Gordon Marino

A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting with Antonio Tarver just before the Pacquiao vs Mosley fight. He was in a bit of a rush but kind enough to stop to offer two important boxing tips.


The Montell Griffin fight aside, Tarver the first to beat the then dazzling Roy Jones Jr. And in July – at 42, he stopped Danny Green to win the IBO Cruiserweight title.  He is a master of technique and that is a testimony to the professor of punching, Tarver’s trainer, Jimmy Williams.


As the ever grateful “Magic Man” once said of his teacher,  “He’s been with me from the womb to tomb. He laid the foundation, taught me all the ins and outs about boxing,” Tarver added, “The skill and the talent you see in me today, he is the one who honed those skills.”


The cruiserweight king passed along some valuable instruction from his mentor. First,  “Always work the angles. Move side to side as though you were coming in the back door.” Tarver recalled that when shadow boxing he would often just move in a close circle around a pole of the kind that most of us have in our basements.” Don’t cross your legs. Pivot, slide, change directions.”


But Tarver passed on a more subtle lesson in the sweet science. “Feint and take a picture,” he said with his eyes flashing.


   “Excuse me?” I said.


Tarver explained, “It’s simple. You make a move- see what the guy does and remember it.” For instance, “If you feint the jab and your opponent moves his head inside, then you feint the jab and throw the right, or in my case left hand.”  The champ demonstrated by faking a left and putting me right in the line of his right hook.


In his last contest with Pablo Cesar Cano, Erik Morales faked the right and he noticed that Cano would just pull his head back.  Apropos of the Williams/ Tarver advice, Morales then started feinting the right and firing a hook. In later rounds, he  began feinting the right and then, after a nanosecond pause, throwing the right! When the referee came out of the ring after the fight, he was literally shaking his head in wonder at Morales's moves.


I mentioned to the champ that this technique takes calmness and concentration. “It does” Tarver agreed, “but you have to have both of those qualities to be successful in this sport.” And there is no disputing that verdict.  


Yesterday, when my boxers were sparring I asked them each to do one thing,  “feint a right hand and come back to the corner and tell me what the other guy did. Did he pull back? Start to slip left?”  Following Antonio’s counsel, I assured them each, “I’m not asking for a counterpunch -- just for you to be able to take a picture, register your opponent’s reaction -- nothing more.”


One of my boxers was able to do it but the other, who was only in his third session, was still a little to worked up to be able to see things in the ring. But I’m going to continue working with the “feint and take a picture formula.” Thanks Mr. Tarver -- and Mr. Williams!

Gordon Marino

Other articles by Gordon Marino

Vitali Klitschko pounds out an argument for boxing reform

The elemental feelings of anger and fear

Training tips from Angelo Dundee: Everything works off the jab

Training tips from Bernard Hopkins: Improving your speed

Training tips from Mike Tyson: A devastating cocktail of punches

Pacquiao's training secret: Fever pitch


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Gordon Marino | The Ringside Boxing Show

A former boxer, Gordon Marino
was head boxing coach
at Virginia Military Institute
and now runs a boxing program
in Northfield, Minn.,
where he teaches philosophy
at St. Olaf College.
He also writes about boxing
for the Wall Street Journal.

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