Tarver retains heavyweight aim

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Antonio ‘Magic Man’ Tarver says he’s “prepared beautifully” for his fight with Steve Cunningham in Newark on Friday night.

Tarver, 46, who currently holds a 31-6 record, remains undefeated since his controversial failed drug test in June 2012.

The former WBC, WBA and IBF light-heavyweight champion insists he still hopes to become the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history, especially if he can emerge victorious against American compatriot Cunningham in their Premier Boxing Champions encounter.

"This is a big fight for me,” Tarver said. "You have two guys who know their way around the ring. We're in the hurt business and only one man can win. When the smoke clears on Friday we'll see who's left standing.

"Every fight is do or die for me. I've come too far to start over. I'm on a destiny trip right now. I'm racing towards that heavyweight world championship.

"I was a big light heavyweight but I feel perfect at heavyweight. When I look back at some of my old fights, I was really just a shell of myself. Now I'm healthy and strong and ready to get to the top.

"I wasn't blessed with this unique talent for nothing. I have to put it on display. The game hasn't retired me. When I went through all of my struggles, I became a champion right then. Now I just have to walk through my destiny.

"I'm fighting the very best and I'm beating the very best. I'm looking to knock everybody out.

"Training camp has been amazing. My team has gotten me beautifully prepared for this fight. We're just feeling strong and can't wait until Friday.”

Cunningham, nicknamed USS following spells in the US Navy, enters the bout on the back of a disappointing points defeat to Ukranian Vyacheslav Glazkov in March. The 39 year-old, who holds a 28-7 record, says he is out to cause an upset against five-time world champion Tarver.

"I know I'm prepared to do what I need to do,” said Cunningham. “I'm ready to get this win and I want to look spectacular. Tarver is a five-time champion, legend, Hall of Famer, but that's all going out the window August 14. He's just another guy I have to beat.

"My record doesn't reflect what I've done in the ring, but I take it on the chin and keep going forward like I do in the ring. 

"People have seen the work ethic from me. They've seen what I've gone through in the ring. They saw the close decision losses. I've always had faith in myself and I still do.

"Tarver has fought the best out there. He's been there. He's been through adversity. He's had ups and downs. There's nothing you can say about Tarver that makes you feel like you can go in there and make him look like a bum.

"I'm 39 and I feel awesome. This is a fight. The age means nothing to me. I'm fighting a five-time champion and that's how we look at it."