Antonio Deon Tarver (born November 21, 1968 in Orlando, Florida) made his acting debut as Mason "The Line" Dixon in the film Rocky Balboa, the sixth installment in the Rocky film franchise. Nicknamed the "Magic Man", Antonio is actually professional boxer and the former WBC, WBA, IBF, & The Ring light heavyweight champion. Tarver built an impressive amateur career, including winning a bronze medal while representing the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, eventually losing to Vassiliy Jirov, who he'd previously defeated in a match at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships. He also captured the gold medal at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Berlin, just two months after having triumphed by also winning gold at the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata.

Professional boxing career

Early years

Tarver made his professional debut at the age of 28 on February 18, 1997, with a second-round knockout of Joaquin Garcia at the legendary "Blue Horizon" in Philadelphia. Tarver won his first 16 fights,14 by knockout, before stepping up his level of competition. After taking most of his first 16 fights in either his native Florida or at the "Blue Horizon", for his 11th fight he met veteran Rocky Gannon in Chester, West Virginia, on August 30, 1998. Tarver knocked out Gannon in the second round. On February 29, 2000, Tarver scored a knockout against Ernest M-16 Mateen in Las Vegas. Later that year, Tarver suffered his first loss when he was knocked down in the 11th round by Eric Harding, en route to a unanimous decision on June 23 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

NABF/USBA World Heavyweight titles (2002)

In 2002, Tarver defeated former two-weight world champion Reggie Johnson by split decision to win the NABF & USBA light heavyweight titles, then scored a fifth round stoppage over Harding in a rematch.

Light heavyweight titles (2003)

On April 26, 2003, Antonio received his first world title shot, when he faced former WBC champion Montel Griffin for the WBC & IBF light heavyweight titles that had been vacated by Roy Jones Jr., who had gone on to defeat John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title the previous month. After dropping Griffin in the first and last rounds, Tarver was crowned champion after winning a unanimous decision.

Tarver vs Dawson fights

On October 11, 2008, Antonio faced rising star Chad Dawson for Tarver's IBF Light Heavyweight title. The fight took place at Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Tarver lost the fight via unanimous decision, with wide margins of 118–109 and 117–110 (twice). The outcome was not disputed. With the loss to Dawson, it was speculated that Tarver may choose to retire; however, he later announced that he and Dawson would meet in a rematch in March 2009.

A rematch with Dawson, originally announced for March 14, 2009, had to be postponed due to an injury suffered by Dawson. Finally, on May 9, the two fighters met at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. Tarver, who came to the fight as a 5:1 underdog, again lost by unanimous decision.

Move up to heavyweight

Following the rematch loss to Dawson, Tarver took over a year off from the ring, before returning on 15 October 2010 to defeat Nagy Aguilera by 10 round unanimous decision in a bout that took place in the heavyweight division. For this fight Tarver officially weighed 221 lbs, some 46 lbs more than he had weighed for the Dawson rematch.


On 20 July 2011, Tarver took on Australian IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in Tarver's debut in the 200 pound cruiserweight division.

Tarver dominated the fight, knocking Green down in the second round and controlling the majority of the action from there on in. After taking heavy punishment and being saved by the bell at the end of round 9, Green failed to come out for the start of round 10, allowing Tarver to take the victory and the title by TKO.

Failed drug tests

Tarver reportedly tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in his pre-fight urine sample prior to his fight with Kayode, with the tests' results only released publicly after the fight.

Tarver tested positive for a banned substance yet again in his pre-fight urine samples coming into the Cunningham bout, with the tests once again being released after the fight.


Rocky Balboa appearance

Tarver starred as heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. In the film the current, unpopular, champion Dixon fights former champion Rocky Balboa, who decides to come out of retirement. Dixon wins the match by split decision, and after breaking his hand in the second round of the bout but still managing to stand toe to toe with Rocky for the full 10 rounds, proves to doubters that he has the heart of a champion. The DVD of the movie offers an alternate ending, in which Rocky wins the split decision. Dixon's record before the fight is 33–0–0 (30 KO).

Also on the DVD, the film's writer and director Sylvester Stallone wanted to cast a real boxer in the role of Dixon, as he thought it would be easier to teach a boxer how to act than to teach an actor how to box convincingly. In an August 18, 2010 interview with Stallone on The Howard Stern Show, the director indicated that Tarver refused to film his scene after the MGM had been rented out and filled with people already incurring high costs. In order to get the filming done, Stallone gave Tarver a cut of his own salary and points on the back end which resulted in Stallone making no money on the film.[1]

Boxing commentator

Since his loss to Dawson, Tarver has been serving as a boxing analyst for Showtime Championship Boxing.


  1. Stallone has another hit – The Howard Stern Show, (2010-08-18). Retrieved on 2012-09-15.

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