After Glengoffe Johnson: Roy Jones Jr. Must Yell For Tarver

23.09.04 - By Frank Lotierzo - - This Saturday night former undisputed Light Heavyweight Champ Roy Jones 49-2 (38) will fight IBF Light Heavyweight Champ Glengoffe Johnson 40-9-2 (27). In his last fight four and a half months ago, Jones lost his title when he was knocked out in the second round by Antonio Tarver. Jones needs to fight Tarver, and if his legacy is to be even partially restored, he has to beat him in a way that leaves no skeptics.

He's been a World Champion at Middleweight, Super-Middleweight, and Light Heavyweight. On top of that Roy Jones is the first former Middleweight Champ since Bob Fitzsimmons to capture a piece of the Heavyweight title.

Jones won his first title when he decisioned Bernard Hopkins capturing the IBF Middleweight title. Hopkins would go on to win the Middleweight title a year and a half later. After defending the Middleweight title once, Jones moved up to Super-Middleweight. In his first fight he won a lopsided decision over undefeated IBF Super-Middleweight Champ James Toney. Jones made six successful defenses of the Super-Middleweight title, stopping all six challengers.
After running out of challengers at 168, Jones moved up to Light Heavyweight and won a decision over former Jr. Middleweight Champ Mike McCallum for the vacant WBC Light Heavyweight title. In his first defense versus Montel Griffin, Jones lost the title when he was disqualified in the ninth round for punching Griffin while he was down. Five months later Jones fought Griffin again and knocked him out in the first round to regain the title. Over the next five years Jones made 12 successful defenses of the Light Heavyweight title winning eight by knockout.

On March 1st 2003, Jones relinquished his Light Heavyweight title and challenged WBA Heavyweight Champ John Ruiz. Jones out boxed Ruiz over 12 rounds and won a unanimous decision to become the first former Middleweight Champ to capture a piece of the Heavyweight title in 100 years.

Eight months after beating Ruiz, Jones couldn't resist the taunts directed at him by WBC Light Heavyweight Champ Antonio Tarver. In order for Jones to get back down to Light Heavyweight and fight Tarver, he had to shed the 20 plus pounds of muscle he packed on to fight Ruiz.

Jones made weight for the fight with Tarver, but looked visibly drained the night of the fight. Tarver fought well versus Jones by attacking in short spurts and then backing away. The fight was even after 10 rounds. In rounds 11 & 12 Jones was forced to fight with a sense of urgency that he never had to before in his career, in hopes of pulling the fight out. In those last two rounds, Jones exhibited the heart and character that all past greats have had to at some point during their career. Jones salvaged the last two rounds and won a controversial majority decision to reclaim the title. Tarver was livid after the decision was announced and said afterward that he lost to the name Roy Jones, but not the fighter.

Six months after winning the title from Tarver, Jones defended it against him in what was the biggest fight of his career. The Tarver fight was the only time Roy Jones left the ring as a professional fighter where there were lingering questions as to who really won the fight. Jones had a legitimate reason for giving a sub-Jones performance, citing how the weight loss took a lot out of him and he wasn't at the top of his game. He vowed that wouldn't be the case in the rematch. Jones promised Tarver would face the Real Roy Jones this time, while Tarver promised that he'd finish what he started in the last fight. The rematch with Antonio Tarver was the first time Roy Jones entered the ring with the burden of proof solely on him. Both fighters made it clear that there'd be no excuses this time. Tarver even asked Jones at center ring right before the start of the fight just to make sure.

The first round was basically a feel out round with neither fighter taking the lead. In the second round, Jones came out and started to lead. Midway through the round, Tarver beat Jones to the punch with a massive left hand during an exchange that dropped Jones like he was shot. He struggled to get up but didn't come close to beating the count and was counted out. Tarver took back the title he lost to Jones with a stunning one punch knockout. Since knocking out Jones, Tarver has become the toast of the Boxing world. He's done some commentary for HBO & ESPN, along with granting many interviews. Tarver's name has also been mentioned as being a possible opponent for the likes of Vissaly Jirov, Chris Byrd, and Bernard Hopkins.

The name I've heard least mentioned as a possible Tarver opponent is spelled R-O-Y J-O-N-E-S. The talk of Jones-Tarver III has been very hush-hush over the last four and a half months since they fought. Which I find very odd. You'd think a fighter who has put together the body of work that Jones has over the last 10 years would be obsessed with the only fighter who ever whipped him. Wouldn't you think?

In May of 1989 Roy Jones turned pro as a Middleweight. During his tenure at Middleweight, there was only one fighter he didn't dominate, current Middleweight Champ Bernard Hopkins. As a Super-Middleweight, Jones wasn't even pushed once, including in his fight with James Toney.

Jones held the Light Heavyweight title for five years before giving it up to challenge John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight title. In his only fight at Heavyweight, Jones totally out fought Ruiz, winning no less than 11 of the 12 rounds they fought to win the title .

In 51 professional fights, Jones fought two fighter's who at the least proved they belonged in the same ring with him. Bernard Hopkins at Middleweight and Antonio Tarver at Light Heavyweight. Against Hopkins, Jones clearly showed he was the better Boxer, and no one questioned who won the fight when they left the ring that night. But Hopkins was in the fight enough that most knew he'd be heard from again.

Antonio Tarver is different story. Like the Middleweight division Hopkins has owned from 1995-2004, the Light Heavyweight division that Jones has owned from 1997-2004, is equally inept regarding top challengers and contenders. Tarver is the best Light Heavyweight Roy Jones has ever fought, and he's 1-1 versus him, and more than just a few think he's 0-2.

Throughout his Light Heavyweight tenure, Jones has been ripped for the caliber fighters he's defended the title against. And that's a fair point. But in Jones' defense, he did what he should have done and totally dominated and outclassed them. Until Tarver that is.

The fact is Antonio Tarver is the best Light Heavyweight Roy Jones has ever fought, and in two fights hasn't proved that he is the better fighter. Against Tarver, Jones had life and death in winning a disputed decision, and was stretched for the count in their rematch. I know Roy Jones is a great fighter, but the names on his record certainly don't measure up to some of the great fighters he is often compared to. And getting stopped by the only top Light Heavyweight he ever fought stands out.

The fact that Jones isn't campaigning for a third fight with Tarver befuddles me. By Tarver knocking Jones out with one punch, he put him on a list not too many all time greats are found on. Think of some of histories greatest fighters, how many of them were knocked out by one punch, despite fighting into their late 30's and early 40's, and having three or four times as many fights as Jones? Sure, anybody can get caught, but they didn't. However, I can get past the fact that Jones was knocked out by one punch. What I can't get past is how Jones isn't obsessed with fighting Tarver again to clear the record. He's almost passive about it.

Although there is a faction who make excuses for him, Mike Tyson lost to the two best fighters he ever fought. Which definitely hurts his standing in the overall pantheon of Heavyweight greats. The same can be said about Roy Jones if he never fought Antonio Tarver again, history will show that he lost miserably to the best Light Heavyweight he ever fought.

Roy Jones has nothing to gain or prove by winning more flimsy alphabet titles, or setting himself up for the best deal. He's made the money, he needs to solidify his legacy. I don't need to see him fight Vitali Klitschko, James Toney, Chris Byrd, or Bernard Hopkins.

I just want to know if he is better than the best Light Heavyweight he ever fought.

Article posted on 23.09.2004

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