Socktober: Valuev-Donald, Toney-Guinn, Byrd-Williamson, & Jones-Tarver III
28.09.05 - By Kevin Kincade: On October 1st the Boxing Fraternity will be celebrating a pretty significant birthday: The Thirtieth Anniversary of “The Thrilla in Manila”, the climactic third and final clash between Muhammad Ali and “Smokin'” Joe Frazier. There will be more men fighting than you can shake a stick at, so hook up both VCR's or DVR's or you're bound to miss something. Kudos to both Showtime and HBO's TVKO for throwing parties for the greatest Heavyweight Rubber match of All Time……or taking advantage of an opportunity, whichever way you wish to look at it. Sho opted for the heavyweights while HBO opted for a rubber match.
Article posted on 28.09.2005
Come Saturday night, Donald and the Giant will see who's got the biggest slingshot, Toney will try to win the Battle of the Bulge, Byrd, since no one could get him anywhere near Wladimir Klitschko a few months ago, is doing the next best thing by fighting the second to last man Wlad met in the ring, and Antonio Tarver will attempt to halt the comeback of a former 4-division World Champion…..now, what was his name?
At one time, Roy Jones Jr. was as elusive as a handful of gas, as fast as a camera flash, and had the power to put anyone to sleep….and fast; but those days are long gone. Everybody knows he knocked out the current IBF belt holder, Clinton Woods in 6 rounds in 2002. Everyone knows how he humiliated both current WBA Heavyweight Titlist John Ruiz and his recent “unofficial” conqueror James Toney, who's also fighting this weekend. It's also common knowledge that he defeated Bernard Hopkins before B-Hopp got old and became great. For an entire decade, Roy Jones Jr. was the undisputed pound-for-pound best. In fact, at his peak, Roy Jones Jr. would have given any fighter who has EVER fought between 160 and 190 lbs trouble. However, he is no longer at his peak and many believe he is shot. At 36, there is no doubt that Jones has seen his better days; but does he have one more in him?
The old saying is: a once-great fighter always has one great fight left; but was Jones one last great effort against Tarver in their first match? Jones, drained from losing at least 20 lbs of muscle, looked gaunt and retreated to the ropes early in their first match and only came on during the middle and late rounds against a tiring Tarver. Jones, at his worst, showed us the championship mettle within. Then, in the rematch, “More Than Personal”, Roy started off looking slick and Tarver looked as though he didn't know what to do……until Round 2. With one counter left, fortunes were reversed and Jones, for the first time in his career, really tasted defeat. A few months later, he had a second helping against the unlikely candidate, Glengoffe Johnson. Two stone-cold knock-out losses back to back: Roy Jones must be through. He wasn't even competitive in Memphis against Johnson and was on the canvas for 5 to 10 minutes after the Johnson right that felled him; and didn't leave the ring until 45 minutes had elapsed and the HBO crew was packing up to go. The cries for his permanent retirement are not without merit.
The prevailing argument is that when he stripped off the 20+ lbs from the Ruiz fight to take on Tarver the first time, Jones permanently damaged his body and his reflexes. Another argument is that his “defense” has always been his reflexes; and at 36, even without possible permanent damage due to the stripping away of muscle fiber, he'd be just as susceptible to getting hit due to the natural process of aging. Both are defensible given his dismal showing in his last fight. The 2nd round knock-out at the hands of Tarver could easily be chalked up as a one punch knock-out that could have happened to anybody; but, let's face it, Jones took a beating in the Johnson fight. All 8 + rounds were dominated by Johnson as he pounded a seemingly helpless Jones along the ropes. That fight took place almost exactly one year ago. In the meantime, Jones has had no tune-ups and has spent more time offering analysis from behind a microphone than throwing punches in a gymnasium. In fact, two of the fights he has offered analysis on were both Tarver-Johnson contests. It makes one wonder, “Does he see something….or is he fooling himself as so many fighters have done?” My gut-feeling tells me if there is any Ali magic floating around on the 1st, it will find Jones.
Moving on to the big boys….and I do mean “BIG” at 7' tall and weighing in somewhere in the neighborhood of 330 Lbs, “The Beast From the East”, Nicolay Valuev, takes on his first “B-Level” opponent in Larry “The Legend” Donald. Donald, while hardly living up to his nick-name, at 37, is still a relatively fleet-footed opponent who should test Valuev. Also, in Nicolay's favor, Donald has never done well against taller opponents (see Bowe-Donald and Klitschko-Donald for references) However, Donald should still have enough speed in those old legs of his to last the distance, losing a decision, being too elusive for the 330 Lb'er to catch solid enough to put him away.
James Toney had the Golden Fleece in his grasp earlier this year, only to let it slip away on accusations of steroid use. Looking for vindication, Toney now climbs into the ring with the 30 year old Guinn, who, at one time, carried the hopes of the division's future on his shoulders until he shrugged them off like loose shackles. Dominick has gone 1-2-1 in his last four contests and has looked more bored with the sport than anything else. Somehow, I think the opportunity to fight an old, 37, blown-up middleweight will inspire him to find whatever he lost when he climbed into the ring with Monte Barrett. Toney may be one of the more technically skilled fighters of the last 30 years; but there's no denying Father Time and Physics. The two name-heavyweights that Toney has fought were ancient Evander Holyfield and the inept John Ruiz. Dominick is in his prime and hits much harder than "The Quiet Man" and I suspect he'll be 2-2-1 in his last five when October 2nd rolls around.
Now, for Chris Byrd's fourth defense of his IBF crown, "Rapid Fire" will take on "Touch of Sleep", DaVarryl Williamson. Williamson was Wladimir Klitschko's last opponent before Peter and had "Dr. Steel Hammer" in a little trouble before the bout went to the cards early due to a cut caused by an unintentional butt.....which makes him an even more intriguing opponent now. DaVarryl earned his shot at the belt by putting Derrick Jefferson to sleep in 2 rounds in his last bout and decisioning a still feisty Oliver McCall, who just won against Przemyslaw Saleta. Though Byrd has been slipping as of late and is ripe for the taking, I doubt this is his night to fall. Look for a typical Chris Byrd performance in this one; Byrd by Decision.
Whether you like the big boys of boxing or are curious to see if Roy Jones has one great performance left in him, this weekend will not disappoint you. We'd be living in Boxing Babylon if only every month could start off like this one.
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