MIAMI, Okla. – Former 175-pound champion Antonio Tarver outpointed Nagy Aguilera to win his heavyweight debut Friday night.
The 1996 Olympic bronze medalist had been working as an analyst for Showtime before returning to the ring almost a year and a half after his last fight, a loss to the younger and faster Chad Dawson.
Tarver started slow, then started picking up momentum in the latter rounds. Neither fighter scored a knockdown but each landed solid blows.
Judges Duane Ford, Gary Ritter and David Sutherland scored the fight 98-92 in favor of Tarver (28-6).
"With a 17 month layoff and since I am 41 years old, I would give myself an A-plus," Tarver said. "I had a real guy fighting me — a live guy. He wasn't going to lay down. He took some tremendous shots. Anybody with any less heart would have been knocked out. I take my hat off to Nagy ... he came to win."
Aguilera dropped to 16-5 with his second straight loss.
"It wasn't his fight tonight," Tarver said. "I think my experience really paid off. We are still here. People doubted me and people think I picked the wrong guy. But he was the right guy for me. If I couldn't beat Nagy, I didn't deserve to look at any type of challengers."
In the co-feature, Shawn Porter of Akron, Ohio, won the NABF welterweight championship by stopping Hector Munoz of Albuquerque, N.M. Porter (17-0) dominated from the start, and Munoz's corner finally threw in the towel at 2:05 of the ninth round.
"This was just the 17th (fight) for me, so I am still learning about the fight game," Porter said. "This was definitely a big improvement from my last fight (a 10-round victory over Ray Robinson in July).