Jones-Tarver: Mouth Aside, Tarver Has No Shot

05.11.03 - By Frank Lotierzo: "I was born for this: All of my struggles have prepared me for this. It's time for a new superstar in boxing. Fighting Roy Jones is not going to be easy, but I'm up for the task. I don't talk about it...I work at it." That is what Antonio Tarver said after it was announced that he was going to defend his WBC and IBF light heavyweight title belts versus former champ Roy Jones.

At their September 12th press conference, Jones repeatedly spoke of the "ass whipping" he was going to give Tarver. Tarver replied back, "I don't take ass whippings...I give them." With those kind of barbs being tossed, this promises to be HBO/PPV's biggest celebrity draw since the rematch between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley.

On November 8th, Antonio Tarver 21-1 (17) will defend his WBC & IBF light heavyweight titles against former undisputed champ Roy Jones. The ironic thing is that the titles that Tarver now holds were only available to him because Jones vacated them in order to fight John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title. I have said before that I am not very impressed with Tarver. He has a better chance of playing small-forward for the San Antonio Spurs, than he does of beating Jones.

Tarver, a bronze medalist at the 1996 Olympic Games has taunted Jones since this fight has been announced. If you listen to and believe Antonio Tarver, he has longed to fight Roy Jones for quite sometime. Tarver has dissed Jones during every press conference and interview. Although I love Tarver's confidence and bravado, I seriously doubt that he posses the tools needed for the execution that he promises. On top of that, you can be sure that Jones will definitely bring his A-game on November 8th. I can't recall a fighter ever being so bold in their demeanor when speaking of or to Jones. If Tarver's goal was to get Jones' attention, I think it's safe to say that he's succeeded.

The fact that Tarver has gone out of his way and has tried to humiliate Jones, may end up being his undoing on fight night. I will admit, it has taken me longer than most to come around on Jones. Some have been blinded by his flash and brilliance. Personally, that doesn't sway me as much as it does others, like Ali, I think he lacks many fundamental basics. Also like Ali, it hasn't kept him from attaining legendary status. The fact that he's dominated one of the weakest era's in light heavyweight history has always caused me to think, "yes, he is a great fighter and has great skills, but I believe there have been many past light heavyweight champs who would be kicking the same amount of butt as him if they were fighting in this era." That's just my opinion, but that's how I see it.

Although I think many past light heavyweight greats would beat every fighter that Jones has at 175, I can't refute or deny his incredible ability. As I've said before, Jones is at the least one of the 10 greatest light heavyweight champs in the 100 year history of the division. I'm sure that's not high enough praise for some, but I'll wait until he's retired before I make a final judgement.

Too me, Tarver isn't anything close to a special or outstanding light heavyweight champ. I have watched him since his amateur days through his title winning effort vs Montel Griffin. I'm still trying hard to figure out exactly what it is that he brings to the ring other than height and reach? Other than being a tall southpaw, what is it about him that will cause Jones a problem. From what I've seen in his two fights with Harding, and his title winning effort versus Griffin, I don't see anything that he is exceptional at. To have any shot against Jones, a fighter must have one thing in his arsenal to get his attention.

Usually, being left-handed is a problem for fighters, that doesn't apply to Jones. He beats his opponents to the punch in such a manner, that it doesn't matter what side they attack from. Sometimes height and reach can cause problems for a fighter. However, Tarver doesn't use his to his advantage. He keeps his feet too far apart, like Lennox Lewis did before Manny Steward corrected him. Tarver also slaps and lunges when on the attack. And he basically throws one punch at a time. When he does vary his attack, it's simply just a one-two. The jab followed by the straight left. From what I've seen Tarver has no hook or finishing punch. And his power is only slightly above average at best.

At times he has snuck the straight left in with some effectiveness. But, I seriously doubt he'll land enough of the few that he does throw to impede anything Jones wants to do? In looking at this fight, I've tried to find one thing to hang my hat on to think that Tarver has a chance to upset Jones, other than his mouth. I just can't find it.

No doubt, when it comes to X's and O's, Jones is always going to come out ahead of any of today's light heavies who are in a position to fight him. After watching Jones win 35 of 36 minutes in his last fight vs former WBA heavyweight champ John Ruiz, and watching Tarver labor through 12 rounds vs Montel Griffin in his last fight, what's the intrigue of this fight?

Jones is an all-time great, who will be as focused and full of purpose as he's been for any fight at light heavy since his rematch with Montell Griffin. On the other hand, Tarver is a light heavyweight title holder that we all will have forgotten about soon after the fight.

I respect Antonio Tarver as a fighter who gets in the ring and gives it his best. I know he's tough. And he has to be a special fighter to have become a world title holder. Think about how many light heavyweight fighters there have been in the last 100 years who never even fought for the title. Oh yes, he's a special person and fighter.

However, I must evaluate him with his peers and past title holders and champions. It is on that level where I don't see him as being an outstanding light heavyweight fighter or champion. I believe if he fought in the mid-seventies or the Spinks era, he would have been a one time title challenger at best? I just don't see any way he beats Jones!

Article posted on 05.11.2003

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