In tonight’s main event at the BB&t Center in Sunrise, Florida, former world light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21 KO’s) returned to the ring, this time as a heavyweight, to score a fourth round stoppage over journeyman Mike Sheppard (21-16-1, 9 KO’s) in what was scheduled as a 10 round contest for the interim NABA heavyweight title on Golden Boy Promotions Tuesday Night Fights card.
The ring rust showed on the 45 year old Tarver, who had difficulty finding his range and timing the opening rounds, but by the fourth frame that didn’t matter. In the opening seconds of the round, the “Magic Man” landed a thudding left uppercut that dropped Sheppard for the first time. Sheppard beat the count, only to be felled a second time by a body shot, and was dropped for the third and final time courtesy of a chopping left, prompting referee Samuel Burgos to wave off the action
The victory marks Tarver’s first bout since June of 2012, when he fought undefeated Lateef Kayode to a 12 round draw in a bout contested for Tarver’s IBO world cruiserweight title. The bout was later ruled a no contest when Tarver tested positive for drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, and was suspended for one year.
The former world champion, who has defeated the likes of Montell Griffin, Roy Jones Jr., and Glen Johnson, has his sights set on the heavyweight title. He stated during pre-fight comments, that he’ll be ready to fight the Klitschkos in a year.
In the nights co-feature attraction, the NABO bantamweight title holder Randy Caballero (20-0, 12 KO’s) remained undefeated, scoring a seventh round stoppage over the game but outclassed Jessy Cruz (10-6-1, 4 KO’s) in a non-title bout. Caballero broke Cruz down over the course of the fight, dropping him the sixth and seventh rounds before finally cornering and overwhelming him in the closing seconds of the seventh round, having the bout waved off at the bell.
The telecasts opening attraction featured light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. (15-0, 10 KO’s) scoring a near shut out decision over Yusaf Mack (31-7-2, 17 KO’s) in a 10 round contest. Williams had Mack shaken in the ninth frame, but Mack toughed his way through, and Williams had to settle for the decision.
In an non-televised under card bout, 2012 U.S. Olympic heavyweight Dominic Breazeale (8-0, 8 KO’s) remained undefeated, stopping Keith Barr (11-5, 3 KO’s) in the second round. Also, Luis Ortiz (20-0, 17 KO’s ) aka “the real King Kong”, made quick work of Alex Gonzales (20-9, 10 KO’s), knocking him out in the first round.