Boxing

Roy Jones vs Mike Tyson: Prestige or Pounding

26.12.03 - By Vaughn M. Featherstone: With a fight with Mike Tyson over the horizon for Roy Jones jr., will this be the crowning moment for Roy Jones as the greatest fighter pound for pound or will it be the crowning of Jones by Tyson? After Jones eaked out a very close majority decision; one that many feel was a "gift", Jones is considering a mega-fight with one of the most devastating punchers of our day.

However, questions arose from the Tarver/Jones fight that many want to know: Was it the weight loss (25 pounds) that affected his ability to dominate Tarver as many thought he would? Could it have been his age (34 years) that was beginning to show? Or perhaps, it was the high level of competition that he has eluded in recent years? I tend to believe the last one. I picked Jones to win the fight but I expected it to be close and wouldn't have been surprised had Tarver pulled it out (which I believe he did). I live by the old saying:

"To be the champion, you must beat the champion without a shadow of a doubt."

I don't think Jones did enough to "beat" the Champion. Many may dispute my opinion but I have a right to it as so. Any one of the three choices could be the answer or perhaps it could be all three. Who knows the truth but the fact remains, a tougher task may await Jones if his proposed fight with Mike Tyson is made.

In Tyson, many have to agree that Jones will be facing a shadow of the destructive, menacing puncher that sent fear throughout the Heavyweight division during the mid 80's until the early part of the 90's. Nonetheless, no one can dispute that the power of Tyson has been lost in his declining years. Anyone who has boxed or has been in this game for a good number of years know that the last thing a boxer loses is his power. Former fighters like Heavyweights Ernie Shavers and George Foreman were perhaps past their primes but the power they had stayed with them until the end. (Foreman returned to win the Heavyweight title 15 years after retiring). One punch can turn any fight around and it is this reason that Jones may be walking into something that he has never dreamed about.

As I watched the replay of Jones/Tarver, I saw Tarver muscle Jones into a corner and also trap Jones on the ropes, consistently pounded him and hitting him at will. Over the course of the twelve round fight, Jones languished on the ropes obviously fatigued. When I think of this, I ask myself, what happens if he focussed and determined Mike Tyson, with his punishing power, should trap a fatigued Jones in a corner or perhaps on the ropes? Tyson, with diminished skill, has always been an excellent finisher. His well documented "Tyson Combo", a combo that has destroyed the likes of Frank Bruno, Jesse Ferguson and Trevor Berbick may be too much for Jones. Tyson's body punching in small quarters is the classic setup punch for his rising uppercut which sends most, if not all, to the canvas. Tyson also uses his body punching to set up the combo as he drives powerful hooks to the head. This as well sends most, if not all, opponents to the canvas. If you document Tyson's career, how many opponents have finished the fight after being dropped by Tyson?

The answer is none.

Jones will no doubt be the faster puncher and will in all likelihood land at a high connect rate. But how long will he be able to run from Tyson after being pounded with punches with "bad intentions?" Will Jones' punches be strong enough to stop Tyson in his tracks? Tyson will no doubt come forward with the mindset that Jones can't hurt him and this may be true. Tyson, contrary to popular belief, has a strong chin. Exhaustion was one major cause of Tyson's most devastating knockdowns.

As I analyzed Tyson's fights over the years before I put this article together, I watched James "Buster" Douglass pummel Tyson over the course of 10 rounds before finally dropping Tyson. Tyson rose, although wobbly.

His knockdown by Evander Holyfield in the first fight was caused by improper balance as Tyson's footwork was very sloppy. Tyson quickly rose but was stopped (on his feet).

Lennox Lewis dropped an exhausted Tyson (who was fatigued as early as round three) enroute to a eighth round TKO.

Tyson has fought some big punchers in his career and has withstood their power. This is not to make excuses for Tyson but the facts speak for themselves.

Will Roy Jones be able to hit Tyson with enough power to make Tyson respect him? Possibly Jones will use ride his bicycle and hope that Tyson punches himself out.

Roy had problems with Tarver at close quarters. Clinching stopped some of the punishment from Tarver. However, Tarver is no Tyson. Tyson loves fighting inside and his strength could break a clinch by Jones. Tyson is also a fairly large fighter for one of his height. Clinching, or an attempt, could open up Jones for some devastating body shots should he not be able to wrap up. Tyson may not be the fast punching Heavyweight of ten years ago, but his speed is still superior than that of Tarver.

Tyson is a master when it comes to landing short punches with devastating effects. In his fights with Andrew Golota and Frans Botha, short punches by Tyson dropped (Golota) or finished (Botha) them with lasting effects. Both fighters had fairly decent chins and are natural big or "super" heavyweights. When Jones fought Ruiz, Jones couldn't hurt John Ruiz although he (Jones) busted him up pretty good. Ruiz allowed Jones to do what he pleased although Jones was fatigued at one point. But as I said about Tarver...

Ruiz is no Tyson.

My outlook: Questions about both fighters.

Tyson:

Tyson's life inside the ring and outside is considered a soap opera. And on that note, I propose these questions:

Will his ongoing feud with Don King affect his concentration?
In filing for bankruptcy, will it make his fighter harder for success and take him away from his fight plan?
He's fighting a smaller opponent. Will he be over-confident?
Will he be in shape, mentally and physically and solely focussed on the fight?



Jones

Jones is seeking to end his career as possibly the greatest fighter pound for pound since Sugar Ray Robinson.

With the weight loss and much needed weight gain, will he be strong enough to go at least 6 grueling rounds with Tyson
After dealing with Tarver, how will his fight psyche be?
Will he see Tyson as the over-the-hill fighter that many see Tyson as and go in overconfident?
How will he fight?
Can he withstand the punishment that Tyson will obviously look to administer?

All in all, I see a very interesting fight should it materialize. In one corner, you have a pure boxer who will make you miss and punish you should you miss. He is an excellent ring technician and consummate champion. In the other corner you have a menacing puncher who could finish you off with either hand. A former Champion possibly looking for one more great performance or perhaps a performance that will put him back on top. This is fight I see as the crafty pure boxer vs the classic brawler: the bull vs the matador scheduled for 12 rounds.

But I don't see it going that far.



Email comments to "Vaughn Featherstone" thirdman_boxing@yahoo.com

Article posted on 26.12.2003



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