Sharkie's Machine: Antonio Tarver Ties Up The Series!

19.06.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Light Heavyweight, Antonio "The Magic Man" Tarver outclassed and outscored the gallant, Glen "The Road Warrior" Johnson, winning a 12 round Unanimous Decision in a Championship fight. Tarver is 3-0 in rematches now. The little known, IBO Title was the prize. IBO stands for International Boxing Organization, which should be the ONLY Sanctioning Body, since Boxing is an International sport and too many chefs spoil the soup.

Early in the fight, Johnson was busier and more aggressive with his work to the body and occasional combination punching. Tarver boxed outside and after a while, got into a rhythm that consisted of jabbing and following up with combinations that were not particularly powerful but effective enough to win most of the rounds.

There were no knockdowns. No slips. Neither man hurt the other. Johnson did a lot of good bodywork and always kept coming forward. Tarver showed he could take a good shot and still control the tempo and for the most part, his opponent.. Tarver used his longer frame to his advantage and most times, kept Johnson at the end of his jabs and combos from outside. While many of his shots were just arm punches, they were consistently scoring points. And while there were many times when Johnson rallied heroically-it was never enough to win the fight.

In the end, it was a Unanimous Decision of 115-113 and 116-112 twice that sealed the deal for Tarver, who has now tied things up between them at 1-1. A rubber match is definitely in order.

Tarver was humble in his victory and credited Johnson for being a very tough guy. This was a fight that saw Tarver work harder than ever for straight 12 rounds. Johnson would never allow anything less.

Glen Johnson was honest in the end and agreed that he lost the fight. He credited Tarver with the ability to slip many of his punches and being the better man that night.

Tarver vs. Johnson III should be a big attraction. Great rivalries always are. If we've learned anything about Glen Johnson since his rise to the top, it's that he should never be counted out. Johnson is a blue-collar fighter with big heart and fierce dedication. Tarver is a better boxer but being a better boxer doesn't always win a boxing match. There are other elements that come into play that can turn a fight one way or the other. In their first fight (which I had Tarver winning by one round), Johnson outworked Tarver in so many rounds that even the rounds Tarver won were debatable. The first fight was very tight but the rematch was different. Tarver actually outworked Johnson this time and left no doubt about who won this time. Now Tarver owns the IBO Title and a great rivalry is in the making. I look forward to seeing part III.

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On the under-card, returning former Welterweight Champion, Ike Quartey (36-2-1-30 KO's), who hadn't fought in five years, took on Verno Phillips (38-11-1-20 KO's), a gritty boxer with good skills who might have won the fight had he not run out of gas in the middle rounds and allowed Quartey to rediscover his rhythm and out gun him over the course of a ten round contest. Phillips started strong and rocked Quartey a few times but was never able to finish him off. Verno's high volume performance early on left him winded midway into the fight.

Phillips won the first two rounds easily but from the third round on, he let Quartey rev up and build his confidence. Quartey won all the rounds from the third to the eighth but in the ninth, Phillips got his second wind and caught Quartey with a left hook that put Ike on his seat. When Ike got up, he held onto Phillips at every opportunity and survived the round. Right before the bell, Phillips scored another knockdown-but the referee, Randy Phillips, waved it off as a slip.

Controversial? Yes. But it was too little too late for Phillips.

I doubt a second knockdown in the ninth would have been enough for Phillips to win the decision after the hole he put himself in-but it might have made Quartey more cautious going into the tenth and final round.

Instead of boxing smart, Phillips was unsuccessfully headhunting in the tenth and Quartey outworked him and won the last round to seal the deal. Phillips came up short because he didn't put enough rounds in the bank earlier and was inconsistent throughout the fight.

I had Quartey winning by a score of 96-93. The official Judges had it, 96-93 and 95-94 twice.

Congratulations to Ike Quartey. Once he got rid of the rust, he put on a pretty good performance. If he works on being a busier fighter and a bit more aggressive, he might make the 154-pound division a pinch more exciting. If he threw more combinations with authority, he has enough power to still make a dent in the division.

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HBO's Roy Jones Jr. was hilarious this week. He was back to starting rumors, this time, about him coming back. He implied that he wants to fight Hopkins or maybe the winner of Tarver Johnson. Jones said he even made a DVD of his favorite knockouts-for his fans that miss him so much. I was a little embarrassed for Roy, who talks like Tarver and Johnson didn't knock him out cold in his last two appearances. If recent history is any indicator, Jones is past his best days. Now that Hopkins is probably fighting his last fight, at age 40, Roy's is calling him out? I don't "hate" Jones. I just don't believe him. Roy should just be happy he gets to play announcer on HBO, where he uses his position to make an occasional valid point about a fight whenever he's not busy glorifying himself.

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Talking about a lack of humility, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Arturo Gatti were on hand via satellite hook up and Mayweather was quick to dismiss Gatti as a bum who didn't earn his Title. Floyd talked himself up as if he were a God. He was like Mohammad Ali minus the likable playfulness.

Gatti looked embarrassed that Floyd chooses to behave in such a way and stood stoically on his side of the split screen. When Floyd finally stopped praising himself and disrespecting his up coming opponent, Gatti smiled and said that Floyd sounded scared, saying Floyd had to 'convince himself.' Gatti assured viewers that he can box well and he has good power, and that we'd all see what happens in the ring next Saturday night.

I'm a big fan of Arturo Gatti. Not because he's a great 'boxer' but because he is a great 'fighter,' who has always shown respect for his opponents, the sport-and himself. He always comes to fight and has become a fan favorite because of his big heart and his blue collar, hard working approach to the sweet science. He can take a big punch and keep coming-with the kind of power that can change his fortunes in a second. He may not be an "A Class Fighter" but under trainer Buddy McGirt, Arturo has become quite a good 'boxer.' Gatti never brags about himself and has been nothing less than a credit to the sport. On paper, Floyd should win. But on the canvas of the boxing ring-anything can happen.

I'm a big fan of Floyd Mayweather's boxing skills. He has tremendous talent; he's fast, unorthodox, defensively masterful, an accurate puncher and has excellent reflexes. But as a personality, he's not someone I could root for. His arrogance reminds me of why I quit watching NBA Basketball. I simply cannot root for trash talking, self-serving, millionaire athletes who give the impression that that only thing they respect besides big money and fame is-nothing.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned or out of touch with the popular culture of todays 'in your face' crowd, but I hope Gatti teaches Floyd a lesson in humility. It's a lesson Floyd desperately needs to learn if he's ever going to grow up.

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Article posted on 20.06.2005

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