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Antonio Tarver, son both will fight

Heavyweight Antonio Tarver, the former light heavyweight champion, will return to the ring following a 10-month layoff to face Johnathon Banks, who will end a 15-month layoff, as they each look to get into contention.

They will meet in the main event of a "Golden Boy Live" card on Sept. 29 (Fox Sports 1) at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. But Tarver will be concerned with more than just the outcome of his own fight that night.

His son, 26-year-old junior middleweight Antonio Tarver Jr., a southpaw like his old man, will make his professional debut in a four-round bout on the undercard, Tarver told ESPN.com.

"It's a good fight, he's a solid guy, and with the long inactivity a lot of questions will be answered," Tarver said of his fight with Banks. "Totally stoked about my son's pro debut. He's a spitting image of a young me with a more aggressive, fan-friendly style with speed and power."

Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs), 45, of Tampa, Florida, is best known for his shocking second-round knockout of then-light heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. in their 2004 rematch. He beat Jones twice in their trilogy.

But since losing back-to-back light heavyweight title fights to Chad Dawson by decision in 2008 and '09, Tarver has only fought four times, twice at heavyweight with a pair of cruiserweight bouts in between, including a draw with Lateef Kayode in June 2012 that was changed to a no decision because Tarver tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone.

Tarver was fined and suspended -- and lost his job as a Showtime analyst -- and did not fight for 17 months until returning to face journeyman Mike Sheppard at heavyweight in November. Tarver dropped Sheppard three times in the fourth round for the knockout victory.

Tarver said it has been hard for him to get fights, but that he still has as much desire to box as ever.

"This fight with Banks will tell me if I have the ability at 45 to truly make a run and conceivably fight for the heavyweight championship of the world," Tarver said. "My quest starts with a tough fight. Banks is a guy raised in the sport. He can box. He has skills. But it's a challenge I got to step up to. I want this type of fight. I need to realize if I can do it. I believe I can. This fight is a step closer for me.

"I wish I had more activity, but I'm just glad to be back. I want to show I still have it. I know my brand took some hits (over the drug suspension). I'm not naive. But I still got fight in me and the passion to fight. I'm not a shot fighter. I've been training hard and I know I can still do this. I don't take Banks lightly. If I'm victorious, I will just look for my next opportunity. I am coming back to make a statement, but I was never retired or anything."

A protégé of the late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs), 32, of Detroit, scored his biggest win in November 2012, when he knocked out rising contender Seth Mitchell in the second round of a major upset. They met again in an immediate rematch in June 2013 and Mitchell dropped Banks in the second round on his way to a unanimous decision win.

Banks has not fought since the loss, instead focusing more on his duties as the head trainer for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, whom he is training for a mandatory defense against Kubrat Pulev on Sept. 6 in Germany.

Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Banks' promoter, said that Banks will train Klitschko for his fight while also training for his own fight, which he has done before. Once Klitschko's fight is over, Loeffler said Banks will return to Detroit to complete his training camp.

Tarver is very much looking forward to his son's debut on the card.

"He's been training really hard. He started boxing about three years ago and we've been taking it slow," Tarver said. "I see a transformation in him and I think he's ready at this stage. It's time for him to get going if he is going to make his own imprint on boxing.

"I didn't want to force him to box but he had an itch to box. He's been around boxing his whole life."

Tarver Jr. had only a handful of amateur fights while his father had hundreds, was a 1996 U.S. Olympian and one of the most decorated amateurs in U.S. history.

"He's had on-the-job training," Tarver said. "He's a quick learner. He took it upon himself to do this. He has determination. I'm not trying to push him. He wants to challenge himself."