There have been many monumental boxing upsets in the light-heavyweight division, just as there have been massive upsets in every other weight class in boxing, but can you name a bigger stunner at 175 pounds than the one that took place 14-years ago today?
It was on this day in Las Vegas when it happened. The fight, a rematch, was dubbed “More Than Personal,” and Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones Junior sure had a history. For years, Tarver had wanted a piece of the so-called pound-for-pound best, and the southpaw had had to work his way up to get his shot. When the two did meet, in November of 2003, Jones scraped by with a close (close on everything but two of the official score-cards) decision win.
The win that saw Jones retain his standing as the best 175 pound fighter in the world came after he had captured glory up at heavyweight. Having drained himself to return to light-heavy, Jones almost paid the price against Tarver. In the rematch, Jones really did pay a price.
“Any excuses tonight, Roy?” Tarver demanded of Jones as the two touched gloves before bell-one. Jones never replied.
Though many fans felt Tarver had done enough to have won the first fight six months earlier, no-one – no-one – was prepared for what happened after just under five minutes of ring action had transpired in the rematch. After a relatively event-less opening round, Tarver shocked the entire boxing world in a real, genuine, once in a long time, Buster Douglas-type manner in round-two.
A flashing, his eyes closed at the time, overhand left from Tarver crashed into Jones’ exposed jaw and down he went. Hard. Jones, showing heart, got up on instinct, yet he stumbled clean across the ring and into the ropes, clearly a gonner. It was over. Wow! Nobody could believe it. The finest fighter of the last decade or so, some said THE best in a lot longer, had been knocked out – and in just a couple of rounds. How could this have happened!?
Some upsets hit you hard, in a way that causes a genuine disturbance to everything you think you know about the sport you follow and have followed for years. Tarver KO2 Jones is such an upset, such a result. All these years later, and it’s still so hard to believe the great boxing master who had despatched excellent fighters such as James Toney, Mike McCallum, Virgil Hill, Bernard Hopkins and others was ruined inside six-minutes.
But Tarver did it, and his place in the pantheon of light-heavyweight greats is secure forever as a result. Jones too is recognised as a great of course, but he was never, ever the same again after being KO’d by Tarver in 2004.