Tarver, 41, moving up to heavyweight

Updated: June 21, 2010, 3:08 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

In the movie "Rocky Balboa," former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver played the role of heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon opposite Sylvester Stallone's iconic Rocky character.

Now, Tarver is seeking the heavyweight role in real life.

Tarver, 41, unable to secure the cruiserweight fight against Australia's Danny Green that he hoped for, instead announced that he plans to continue his career as a heavyweight.

"I definitely wanted to move up to cruiserweight," Tarver said. "There was one guy in particular that I wanted to fight. But unfortunately, he's interested in unburying dead men.

"So I feel that if I'm going to stay in the game of boxing and give it my all, I've got to set big goals for myself. And as you see, I'm looking a little full right now. So I'm going to put on some muscle and the champ is going heavyweight. So, to the Klitschkos and to David Haye, be on the lookout, because I'm coming."

Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, who are brothers, hold major heavyweight titles as does Haye, the former cruiserweight champion.

Tarver, also a Showtime analyst, made the comments when asked about his future plans by broadcast partner Gus Johnson near the end of the network's broadcast of super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward's shutout decision against Allan Green in their Super Six World Boxing Classic bout on Saturday night in Oakland, Calif.

Although Tarver is 6-foot-2 and has the height of a heavyweight, he has fought his entire 13-year professional career as a 175-pound light heavyweight, where he has had four title reigns.

Tarver (27-6, 19 KOs) hasn't fought since May 2009, when he lost the second of back-to-back light heavyweight title bouts to Chad Dawson.

Boxing history is littered with light heavyweights who have attempted to move up and compete at the top of the heavyweight division. Success has been rare, although light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks moved up and defeated Larry Holmes in 1985 to win the heavyweight championship. Longtime light heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. also moved up to heavyweight in 2003 and defeated John Ruiz to win a belt. Coincidentally, following Jones' victory against Ruiz, he returned to the light heavyweight division and lost two of his three fights with Tarver.

Currently, Tomasz Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, is campaigning as a heavyweight and ranked among the top 10 in the division.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.