Boxing

Now We Know Why Roy Jones Jr Didn't Want Antonio Tarver Again

27.09.04 - By Frank Lotierzo - GlovedFist@Juno.com - Is there any doubt why we never heard Roy Jones mention once that he wanted to fight Antonio Tarver in a rubber match. Fighter's know, and Jones knew. You'd think Jones would be consumed with Tarver just for the fact that he proved not only could he stay with Jones, but he could beat him and knock him out. Isn't that what would bring out the best in Jones, another fighter to rival and challenge him. Wasn't Tarver the Joe Frazier that Jones needed to make money and stamp his legacy?

No, Tarver took Roy's confidence and destroyed his feeling of invincibility. Finally, after 50 fights and capturing titles in four different weight divisions, Jones met a fighter he couldn't master. In the first fight with Tarver, Jones pulled out a very close decision in my opinion. However, many who saw the fight thought Tarver deserved the decision. This set up the rematch perfectly.

Six months after their first fight, Jones and Tarver fought a second time. In the second round with the only meaningful punch he landed in the fight, and the best punch Jones ever had been hit with in his entire career, Tarver knocked Jones out with a left hook and took back the light heavyweight title. The left hook Tarver knocked Jones out with shattered the belief that some had that Roy Jones was unbeatable. It would go without saying, at least you would think, that when two top fighters trade the title in two title fights, a rubber match would be automatic.

Not according to Roy Jones. It was no big deal fighting a rubber match versus the only fighter that ever beat him in the ring. Tarver convinced Jones with one left hook that he never wanted to fight him again. Over the years the one thing that couldn't be questioned about Jones was his ability and skill. Conversely, the thing that was always questioned about Jones was the quality of the opposition he fought with the exception of a few. Why not fight a third and deciding bout with the one fighter who you didn't prove your superiority over?

I never bought the excuses Jones gave about not needing Tarver, I thought Jones had more to prove on his behalf than Tarver did. I thought a fighter who accomplished what Jones did would be driven by setting the record straight, leaving no unanswered questions for skeptics. But I grossly miscalculated. My miscalculation was that I assumed Jones still felt he could beat Tarver, and believed what he said repeatedly, that Tarver just got lucky.

Well I was completely wrong. I didn't realize, although I came around, Tarver shattered Jones confidence. Which does happen sometimes to fighter's who finally get beat in a devastating fashion after having their way with everyone they fought up until that point. Definitely count Roy Jones among them.

In his fight this past weekend against Glencoffee Johnson, I expected Jones to be on a mission and win the fight in a spectacular fashion. Johnson was just 2-2-2 in his last 6 bouts and 8-9-2 over the last six years, and wasn't a big puncher. Instead, Jones fought glove-shy and tentative from the onset of the fight. He didn't lead and only fought in spurts when he felt Johnson was resting and coasting. In other words, Jones only really let his hands go when he thought it was safe.

After eight rounds I had the fight 6-2 Johnson. Johnson even wobbled Jones in the fifth round and it looked like he might go down for a second. In the ninth round Johnson caught Jones with a straight right hand thrown from the shoulder. The punch devastated Jones even more than Tarver's left hook and knocked him out. The knockout punch delivered by Johnson was a good shot, but it didn't appear as big as the left hook Tarver hit Jones with in his last fight.

A good chin is something that a fighter is born with. It's no different than speed and power, you either have it or you don't. And it can't be manufactured through training gimmicks. From May of 1989 through 2003, the question what kind of chin does Roy Jones have, was something that not a single critic could answer with impunity. It couldn't be said that he didn't have a sturdy chin because he was never nailed with a memorable punch, due to his speed and brilliance. On the other hand it couldn't be confirmed that he had a solid chin since he never really had to prove it.

A fighter's chin is not something that goes just like that, not if it's a good one. Some fighters have outstanding chin's, but over the course of having many tough fights, they erode a little and soften up. That was the case with heavyweight Razor Ruddock. Entering his two fights with Mike Tyson, he had a very sturdy chin. However, after 19 tough rounds with Tyson over two fights, his chin was never the same.

However, that is not the case with Roy Jones. His chin was never touched once with a significant punch until his rematch with Antonio Tarver. So it wasn't a case of it being softened up. In fact Jones' chin should have been as good as ever since it never endured any punishment. Although Johnson was definitely winning the fight, it wasn't like Jones was getting shellacked, he was just being out worked. The fight ended like the rematch with Tarver, the best punch landed by his opponent knocked him out.

Jones legs used to help him avoid danger, something they no longer can due on call. Like Muhammad Ali, Jones never bothered to learn fundamental defense and basics, something I've said for years about him. So now he is easier to hit, just like Ali was at the end of his career. The only difference was Ali had a concrete chin and faced some terrific punchers, opposed to Jones who has a suspect chin and never really faced any great punchers.

The most remarkable thing regarding Roy Jones is that he was able to fight from 1989 through 2003 and never got caught once with anything close to what would be considered a big shot. His chin didn't just all of sudden deteriorate, he never took a beating and probably suffered less abuse and punishment than any fighter in history.

The truth is Roy Jones was caught with two big punches in his career, and he was knocked out by both of them. There isn't a single boxing observer who can point to one fight of Jones before the second Tarver fight where he was hit with anything close to the two shots that stopped him. Even the punch that Lou DeValle knocked him down with was a grazing blow, and the one right Ruiz landed was pretty good, but nothing like what Tarver and Johnson tug him with. Jones didn't become a china-doll in between the first and second fights with Tarver. No, he just got caught by Tarver in the rematch, and Johnson in his last fight.

It was just this past April that Jones mocked Wladimir Klitschko for not being tough when he was stopped by Lamon Brewster. Who knew five months later we'd find out the difference between Wladimir's durability and Roy's. That being Roy only has to get dropped once, before being stopped, where Wladimir will get up a few times before being stopped. Wladimir took more power punches from Corrie Sanders, a proven knockout artist, in the first round of their fight than Jones did in his entire career, yet he still got up three times, something Jones couldn't do. Roy Jones never fought one devastating puncher in his career. Yet if you listen to some, they'd have you believing Tarver is Archie Moore or Michael Spinks if you didn't know better.

Jones said before the fight with Johnson, that he knew sooner or later a fighter might get lucky and catch him, referring to Tarver. Well I guess Glen Johnson was even luckier than Tarver, because he knocked Jones out even more convincingly than Tarver did.

Think about it, what's the first thing most boxing insiders want to know about a young fighter. Suppose you have interest in a young fighter coming up who shows potential, what's the first thing everyone wants to know after he's about 16-0? What happens when he gets hit with a big shot. The thought behind that is we won't really be able to get a true read on him until he gets hit? Well, Roy Jones was able to keep that question out there and unanswered for 14 years over 50 fights. Truly a remarkable feat.

Roy Jones has only been hit twice in his career with a big punch on the chin, just twice. Two big punches from two different fighters, and the record book reads KO by 2, and KO by 9. We now know what happens when Roy Jones is nailed with a big punch, it's over.

Article posted on 27.09.2004



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