Rubber Match: Jones Vs. Tarver III

27.09.05 - By Craig Parrish: Roy Jones Jr. dominated many “pound for pound” lists for a long time. While he had his detractors, many believed that Roy was one of the all time greats. Many still do. Many complain that he never fought enough hard competition, that he was too selective in his opponents and never showed the willingness to “go for broke” and put it all on the line. That being said, Jones has had some big wins during his career, including victories over recently deposed Middleweight King Bernard Hopkins and James Toney. He also made the record books by being the only former Middleweight to win a Heavyweight Crown in over 100 years when he easily dispatched John Ruiz.

There was talk of a big money fight with Tyson, or possibly the ultimate “David and Goliath” battle with Vitali Klitschko. All told, it looked like Jones was going to wind down his career in spectacular fashion, with either a monumental Heavyweight win, or at least a massive payday to secure his nest egg for all time.

The next stop would be the Hall of Fame. Antonio Tarver began his Professional career relatively late, after spending many years in the Amateurs.

He had a history with Jones. The two first met when they fought each other as 13 year olds at the Sunshine Games in Gainesville, FL. Despite conflicting accounts of how that fight went, Jones won the match and went on to win the Silver Medal at the Olympic Games at the 1988 Olympics, in one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the games. Tarver had taken a 6 year break from boxing at this time, and when he saw his former adversary at the Olympics, it inspired him to go back into the ring.

Several years later at the 1996 Olympic games, Tarver won the Bronze. Tarver turned Pro in 1997 and won the first sixteen bouts of his career fighting at Light Heavyweight. He went on the win the Light Heavyweight belt in 2003 and promptly set his sights on Jones. The first Jones-Tarver fight took place on November 8, 2003. It was a great fight, with Jones receiving the majority decision. Tarver, along with many fight fans, felt that he was robbed. There was tremendous pressure on Jones from Tarver as well as the boxing community for a rematch. Jones agreed, and the second fight took place on May 15th, 2004. Tarver made sure that there would be no controversial decision in this bout. With a spectacular left, he put Jones down and out in the second round of the fight, taking his belts and shocking the world who by this time had considered Jones unbeatable.

In the time that has elapsed since the last fight, both Jones and Tarver have lost to Glen Johnson, although Tarver would return to avenge his defeat. Jones’ loss to Johnson was frightening, as he was savagely knocked out in the ninth round and spent many minutes on the canvas. Most boxing observers felt that after two straight decisive knockouts, Jones was finished. And it seemed for a long time, Jones felt the same as there were no plans for future fights announced and Jones spent many months under the radar, with occasional appearances as a commentator. However, Roy Jones Jr. is a fighter. Earlier this year, it was announced that Jones and Tarver would mix it up one more time.

Many feel that this is a mistake, that Jones has absorbed way too much punishment in his last two fights and he needs to hang it up. Rumors of slurred speech and concerns for Roy’s health have dominated much of the talk of this rematch. Although Tarver is also 35, he is a fresh fighter who has only fought Professionally 26 times, and seems to have a lot more left in the tank than Jones. We shall see. Jones reportedly has been training harder than he has in years. Can Jones take a page from the playbook of the recently re-invigorated Wladimir Klitschko and shock the world? Or will this be a sad end to a brilliant career when a fighter simply doesn’t admit when it’s time to hang up the gloves? We shall see on Saturday night.

Tarver vs. Jones III
October 1st, 9PM ET

Article posted on 27.09.2005

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