Like it or not Roy, all roads lead to Tarver

14.01.04 - By Robert Bennett: There are four possible opponents who present themselves for Roy Jones next bout, which is likely to be somewhere in May or June. Mike Tyson would be Roy’s favoured choice, the event, and the money would be monstrous. This fight becomes less and less likely however with Iron Mike’s legal problems, and although the lead up to the event would be intense, the fight itself would likely be a fizzler.

John Ruiz is also a possibility. Faced with the prospect of losing his heavyweight title, Jones may elect to step back into the ring with a fighter he knows has virtually no chance of defeating him. Much as I would enjoy seeing Jones befuddle and dominate Ruiz again, this fight would be my last choice of the four. Boxing has nothing to gain from Jones demanding ludicrous payments to watch him outclass Ruiz again.

Remote as the chance is, James Toney is also a possible opponent for Jones. This fight would be my first choice, I would love to see these two rematch some ten years and forty pounds since their first meeting. Believe it or not, should these two fight again, the mythical pound for pound title would likely also be up for grabs, remarkable considering that they fought for the same honour a decade ago. For a boxing fan, Jones-Toney II would be an enormous event, one of the biggest since Hagler-Leonard locked horns in the late eighties.

The fourth choice, and by far the most likely, would be Antonio Tarver. The consensus number one pound for pound fighter in the world, Roy Jones Jr, ran into a unexpectedly difficult challenge in the form of Tarver this past November. Face bruised, and heart tested as it never has been before, Jones pulled out the win in the final two rounds of the fight.

Regardless of what Tarver will have you believe, he did not knock Jones into next week, but he did offer his Royness the sternest test of his distinguished but sometimes criticised career.

The fight was relatively straight forward. Jones would open up with lightning fast blows to the body and head in the earlier parts of the rounds before proceeding to the ropes where Tarver would wail away at the challenger until rounds end. I had the bout scored 115-113 in favour of Jones, rounds 1,2,8,9,10 were scored in favour of Tarver, with round six very close. All other rounds in favour of Jones, I see no way Tarver could have won, although a draw is possible if you score round six for Tarver.

I’ve heard the same old story, that if it wasn’t Jones Jr, the fight would have been scored a loss. Utterly untrue. Had it not been Roy Jones in the ring, the expectation for domination would not have been present, and the rounds would have been seen for what they were, close contested rounds won 7-5 by Jones. Coincidentally, Jones did outland Tarver in seven of twelve rounds.

A result either way in this close fight demanded a rematch. The decision to Jones in a fight where he was bruised and pushed for twelve rounds as never before speaks volumes in terms of Tarver’s right to a rematch. On the other hand, had the decision been given to Tarver, the overhanging doubt as to Roy’s condition due to his rapid weight loss would also force a rematch.

Should a rematch occur, and I believe it will, the first fight will become nothing more then a historical footnote. As is often the case in rematches, history looks kindly on the victor of the return match when viewing the performance of the first. Should Jones be victorious, especially in dominant fashion, his performance will be viewed as nothing more than an aberration caused by his mass weight loss. His stature will grow, for if Tarver could not defeat him on his worst possible night, he must be truly great indeed. Should Tarver be victorious, controversially or not, the first fight will be viewed as the beginning of the end for an aging Jones met by a hungry and talented challenger.

The boxing world is well aware of the results seen the last time Jones was challenged and forced into a rematch. Don’t expect to see a repeat of Jones – Griffin II however, as Tarver is far too good of a fighter to blown out early, even by a fighter as talented as Jones.

Look for a tense few opening rounds as Jones and Tarver again feel each other out, before Jones, once again granted his physical advantages pulls away to a handy points lead before stopping Tarver late into the fight.

One can only hope that Jones then turns his attention to the heavyweight division for the final few fights of his career, and most importantly, a showdown with the renewed James Toney in 2005.

Please feel free to contact me regarding this article at

Article posted on 14.01.2004

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