06.05.04 - Roy Jones, Jr. is generally regarded as the best fighter today in any weight class. He has reigned supreme at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and on March 1, 2003 he became the WBA Heavyweight Champion. However on November 8, 2003, Jones had arguably the toughest fight of his professional career when he dropped back to light heavyweight to settle a personal score against then champion Antonio Tarver. Jones won a majority decision -- a verdict that enraged Tarver -- and boxing fans around the world immediately joined the debate. With pressure from all quarters growing, now “It’s More Than Personal” and on May 15, 2004 all questions will be answered at the Mandalay Bay Events Center live on pay-per-view.

Jones-Tarver II, presented by Don King Productions in association with Square Ring and Mandalay Bay and sponsored by CMXchange, will be produced and distributed domestically by HBO Pay-Per-View and broadcast internationally and on closed circuit by KingVision.

How Jones & Tarver prepared for November 8…

Roy Jones’ weight issues prior to his November 8 Light Heavyweight championship bout against Antonio Tarver were well documented. His official weight for the John Ruiz world heavyweight championship bout eight months earlier was 193 pounds of solid muscle and 6% body fat according to nutritionist and conditioning coach Mackie Shillstone. On November 8th, for the first time in his thirteen-year career, Jones was moving down in weight class. “It’s not easy to drop all of that muscle,” said Shillstone. “And he found out.”

Tarver, on the other hand, made his professional debut at 175 and never fought above 179.

Taking the weight off took a toll on Jones, and to make matters worse, three days before the fight, he developed an abscessed tooth. “Three days before the fight, this kid lay in his room with a towel in his mouth, biting down in an attempt to dull the pain,” said trainer Alton Merkerson. “We were debating giving him a root canal. The only reason we didn’t do it was because we couldn’t take any painkillers because it would show up on the urinalysis. So this kid bit down on a towel. He could hardly eat. He bit on a towel for 3 days.”

Tarver, meanwhile, couldn’t eat enough. “An hour before the fight, Antonio was eating spaghetti and meatballs in the dressing room,” said trainer Buddy McGirt. “Eating spaghetti and meatballs, after I wrapped his hands.”

The fight on November 8…

“Roy won the fight,” said Merkerson. “He just wasn’t what he should have been.”

“This is when I knew we lost the fight,” said McGirt. “Someone was sitting next to me. I heard a voice say, “Oh my God, Roy Jones is so fast.” And I said to them, “Tarver must be faster because Roy just missed a punch.” And they got up and walked away from me.”

“I knew that Roy pulled it out the last two rounds,” said McGirt. “I told Antonio that in the corner after the 9th round. He said, ‘But he isn’t touching me.’ I told him, ‘He might not be touching you but he impresses the judges by making them think he is.’ When you are fighting a guy like Roy Jones, you have to say to yourself, “I’ve got to go for broke.”

“Then after the fight, when I got in the ring, one of the people said, “No matter what happens, keep Antonio Tarver in the ring.” The person that said it to me didn’t say anything to Roy Jones’ corner. It was then that I knew that the game was over. I knew it was not our night.”

“But I knew that Roy, being the type of guy that he is, he couldn’t rest with that victory.”

“We didn’t look at the fight again. I watched the first two rounds alone and had to turn it off. I couldn’t watch it. I just couldn’t. I just said, ‘We’ll get it next time.’”

Looking Ahead to May 15…

“Roy is like grand master in boxing,” says Merkerson.

“Roy will have a different attitude, yes, but the same fighting style,” counters McGirt. “Roy Jones is Roy Jones. One thing we know, he is going to come out and ‘gun’ early, but I think if he does that it will be a mistake. It will be a bad mistake and I don’t think that is going to make a whole lot of sense. He’s going to come out early to get that respect.”

“He may come right at us, like he did to Montell Griffin, and try to gun Antonio out of there. What we have to do when Roy starts gun slinging, is to start shooting bullets with him. When Antonio starts shooting bullets with him and Roy notices you have just as much bullets as he has, Roy’s got to go to plan B. I don’t know what his plan B is. I just hope he has a plan B. I expect that from Roy. I expect anything and everything from Roy. That’s what we are preparing for…anything and everything. We have strategies with a plural. We have got to be able to offset any type of attack that Roy has. And after we offset that, we will be able to do what we want to do. We have more than one strategy because if Roy figures you out, he’ll eat you up. So we can’t let him figure us out.

Preparation for 5/15

Jones gets up about 6:00 in the morning and spends time with Mackie on his conditioning. He then has a very nutritional breakfast followed by rest. He gets up about 12 and eats another small meal and goes to the boxing gym about 2:30 or 3:00 for a very hard training session. At 5:00 he has the primary meal of the day and rests for the remainder of the evening.

“He’s does find time to go play basketball every once in a while,” said Merkerson. “That’s been happening ever since he was a kid. It’s a ritual and it keeps him in good shape. He is very focused on the fight. I think Roy has something to prove in this fight. Similar to the Montell Griffin fight. It’s gotten a little personal with Roy, but how personal, we won’t know until he gets in the ring. His focus in definitely 150%. Everybody is going to see what they want to see.”

“Tarver’s whole mental attitude is different,” said McGirt. “His work ethic is different…he’s stepped it up a notch. Now it gets to the point that, in the gym, he just walks right over these sparring partners. I tell him, “Look, we’ve still got to move our head and be smart.” But sometimes he feels like, “I’m King Kong.”

One of Tarver’s sparring partners is former Super Middleweight champion Charles Brewer. “He gives us that rough and tough Philly style,” said McGirt.

Tickets for Jones-Tarver II, priced at $800, $600, $400, $200 and $100, are available at the Mandalay Bay Box Office and all TicketMaster outlets. To order tickets by phone, call (702) 632-7580 or toll free (877) 632-7400.

The Jones-Tarver II pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT on May 15th, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to over 48 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For more event information log on to www.HBOPPV.Com.

Article posted on 06.05.2004

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