Jones-Tarver II: Be Careful What You Ask For Antonio Tarver

12.05.04 - By Lee Hayes: Next Saturday night, we will be seeing a revenge bout between Roy Jones jr. and Antonio Tarver. Most of us witnessed their first fight, and I for one was shocked by what I saw. Tarver obviously had skills going in to the first bout, but nobody in the fight game had come close to the display of superiority that Jones jr. had bestowed on us since Muhammad Ali graced the ring. Even people that liked what they saw in Antonio felt that he was in over his head against Roy, and rightfully so, Jones was just coming off the most satisfying win of his career when he defeated WBA heavyweight title holder John Ruiz. Roy looked invincible when picking apart Ruiz as if he were nothing more than a 25 dollar a round sparing partner.

What we got during the fight was a lot of drama. We got to see Roy look like something he’d rarely given us a glimpse of during his career. Roy looked human. No big deal for most fighters, a crime for someone that displayed the talents Roy has through out his career.

Roy would later offer up his decrease in weight to make the fight as his excuse for his poor performance. That may be true, when asked about how he would rate himself on a scale of 1 to 10 before the bout, Roy candidly offered up “7” as his personal rating. This coming from the man that calls himself “Superman” Roy Jones jr. Looking at his facial expressions leading up to the fight made many believe that he wasn’t himself. He also looked very drained. If he had just lost 20 lbs of normal body weight for the fight, his excuse might seem flimsy, but the 20 lbs that Roy lost before facing Tarver was almost exclusively muscle mass. It’s understandable if Roy felt drained before his fight.

Roy has always maintained that two fighters reside within the man. Roy Jones jr., that man that has mercifully carried fighters such as Mike McCallum, Reggie Johnson & David Telesco and his sinister alter ego “RJ”. Roy maintains that “RJ” only comes out when Roy is angered beyond his normal persona. Roy claims that it was “RJ” that completely destroyed Montell Griffin in their anticipated rematch. It was “RJ” that beat veteran fighter, Vinny Panzienza, from ring post to ring post, mercilessly in their bout in 1995. Roy claims that RJ is his darker side that will go for a destructive KO, when the more subtle Roy Jones would be satisfied not to harm his opponent and settle for a lop sided decision.

The only fight we have to gauge Roy on in a rematch is his fight with Montell Griffin. In many ways there are parallels. Montell was not supposed to do nearly as well as he did against Roy. He enjoyed most of his success when he backed Roy up in corners or against the ropes, much like Tarver did. Jones jr. also seemed unable to adapt during the fights with Tarver and Griffin, until much later in the fight. Jones suffered the only loss of his career, when he finally felt some success against Griffin and knocked him to the canvas, Roy blatantly fouled him by striking Montell while he was helpless on the canvas. The result was so destructive that the referee had no choice but to disqualify the super star. Roy took out his anger for his loss on Griffin in a way that changed Montell as a fighter for life.

This writer is not trying to take any credit away from Antonio Tarver for his performance in his first fight with Jones, on November 8th, 2003 at Mandalay Bay Center, in Las Vegas. Tarver fought the fight of his life and a lot of ringside observers felt he deserved the nod. I too felt Antonio had done enough to squeak out a decision that evening. This writer cannot however ignore the fact that he feels very strongly that the Roy Jones jr. that showed up that night was nowhere near the fighter he is at his best. Roy has always been an ego driven person. He was obviously very angry about the way things went that night. When Roy gets angry, that’s when his alter ego tends to come out. If I am correct, and that’s the case, you better not run for popcorn or beer this Saturday, May 15th. I personally am predicting an early KO victory in favor of Jones jr. I do not think this fight will go past the half way mark and I think Tarver will be made to look foolish against a much more complete Roy Jones jr. Personally, after seeing all of the trash talking that Tarver has been doing before the first fight, after the fight and leading up to this rematch, I am looking forward to the inevitable beat down that he is going to receive. It should return Roy back to the top of the mountaintop that he climbed when he decimated Ruiz over a year ago.

This writer welcomes your comments and suggestions:

Article posted on 12.05.2004

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