Why Roy Jones jr. Should Challenge Antonio Tarver

11.08.05 - By John Way: Seriously folks, you really didn't expect Superman to hang up his gloves for good, did you? Evidently you didn't, because the boxing world drew a collective breath of astonishment when Jones suddenly announced that he intended to challenge Antonio Tarver for his IBO light heavyweight strap. This less than intriguing rubber match hasn't gotten much positive press for two reasons: 1.) This bout, scheduled for October 1st has the misfortune of falling only seven days before the feverishly anticipated rematch between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo.

Aside from the most ardent(or affluent) Roy Jones lovers, most fight fans will realize without much effort, that they would rather watch a sequel one of the greatest fight ever, in addition to an under card that's worth $50 alone.

2.) Jones is considered completely shot-as in Ivan Robinson or Evander Holyfield shot if you listen to some writers-having been kayoed twice in his last two fights, while Tarver hasn't been looking a whole lot better. That's the thing with Roy, you either love him, or you hate him, or you just think he's okay.

We all know Roy Jones' story: the 16 consecutive knockouts to start his career, his wins over middleweight kings like Bernard Hopkins, Mike McCallum, and James Toney, the blitz's over Thomas Tate and Montell Griffin, and most of all, we know about the recent struggles. Even though the tales of weight-making woes and diminished reflexes have been repeated ad nauseum, the normal boxing fan still can't go three days without stumbling upon some article pleading for Jones to quit. Let's be frank folks, jr. doesn't give two hairs from Thomas Hauser's left armpit for what the pugilistic pundits think. The one time pound for pound king must be scratching his head as to why people want him to abandon his quest to regain the crown. Especially while once great, but now washed-up yahoo's like Frankie Randall, Junior Jones, and Jorge Paez are allowed to put their lives in serious jeopardy without even facing a condemning article or two. Now, I think its time to take an unsentimental, yet realistic look at this upcoming bout.

First of all, I implore you all to be honest with yourselves: will Roy's legacy be "shattered" if Tarver starches him again? Given the fact that virtually no one expects him to win, there is almost nothing to lose by lacing up the gloves one more time, especially against a top fighter like Antonio. Does any self-respecting fan of the sweet science really think that a late career loss lessens a boxer's status as an all time great? For instance, was Muhammad Ali denied a plaque in Canastota because of his defeat to Larry Holmes? Have all those beatings Ray Robinson took against 2nd tier men in his twilight years affected his legend? Nope, last I checked, Bert Sugar still thinks he's number one. I can't remember the last time I've heard someone say "yeah, Julio Cesar Chavez was pretty good, but I'm just not convinced that he's great, having lost to Kostya Tsyu when he was in his late thirties".

Secondly, is the Pensacola native really that shot? Sure, he has been flattened twice recently, and certainly isn't nearly as fast as he used to be, but Roy still looked fast enough to beat "the Magic Man" back in 2003. Claims that Roy appeared to be washed up in his most recent fight-against 2004 fighter of the year Glen Johnson-are ridiculous! Jones constantly retreating to the ropes probably had more to do with Johnson, than any overnight drop off in ability. Just ask Syd Vanderpool, Tarver, Clinton Woods, Sven Ottke, or Eric Harding how hard it is to stick to a game plan in a fight with Glencoffe. "The Road Warrior" is a rootin' tootin' brawler, who makes any fighter look bad; which is likely the case in this situation. I encourage anyone who doubts me, to closely look at some of the middle rounds of Johnson-Jones. Whenever Johnson relented, Jones would lash out with a blistering combination of speed and accuracy, before seemly punching himself out. This said the only sudden evaporation in skills that I saw that night was in the stamina department, as Roy seemed to exhaust himself after the slightest bit of punching or moving. Yes, Jones is certain on the way down, but he is hardly washed up.

Finally, critics claim that Jones is endangering himself by fighting on, risking brain damage or, maybe even the fate of close friend, Gerald McClellan. What?!!! Punch drunkenness is cause by repeated blows to the head over the course of time, something Roy has not been subject to. Between 1999 and 2002, you could count the number of shots he took in fight on one hand, and only lately has he made a habit of eating punches on a regular basis. As you can see, there isn't really anything to lose, and at the same time everything to gain, so therefore I encourage him to go forward with this fight. Though I doubt he will win the contest, I'm sure he will put up an admirable effort before sauntering off into a comfortable retirement.

Agree or disagree? Comments are welcome.

Article posted on 11.08.2005

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