18.12.04 – By Derek Tang: The only two light-heavyweights to have ever knocked out the aging, but legendary Roy Jones Jr. meet this Saturday, November 18 on HBO 9PM (ET)! In one corner, we have Antonio Tarver (22-2, 18KOs); he rose to public fame when he was the first to knock out Roy Jones in their rematch in the second round of May of this year. In the other corner, we have Glencoffe Johnson (41-9, 28KOs) and he recently knocked out Roy Jones in September of this year. Tarver relinquished his title belts to face Johnson, instead of defending against his dangerous mandatory, Paul Briggs..
Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver is 6’2” and 35 years old. He has had a distinguished amateur record; he topped both the World Amateur and Pan American Games in 1995, and was a 5-time National Amateur Champion. One year later in 1996, he won the Olympic Bronze medal in the 178-pound division.
He turned pro when he was 28 years old and under the wing of popular trainer, Buddy McGirt, Tarver went on to have a generally successful professional career. Professionally, Tarver has fought credible opponents like Eric Harding and Montell Griffin; Eric Harding broke Tarver’s jaw when they met in June 2000, but Tarver punished Harding in their rematch by flooring him the fifth round in July 2002. Tarver’s other loss on his record was a disputed, majority decision to Roy Jones in November 2003.
Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson is 5”10 and also 35 years old. Unlike Tarver, Johnson was a late boomer of the sport, starting at 20 years old in Miami, Florida at an emerging police boxing gym. Johnson compiled an amateur record of 35-5 and was a two-time Florida State Golden Gloves Champion, once at 165 and at the other at 178-pounds. Professionally, Johnson is very experienced compared to Tarver, and has faced many top opposition throughout the past years. To name a few, he has gotten in the ring with Syd Vanderpool, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Daniel Judah, Eric Harding, and Clinton Woods twice. Johnson’s professional career has had its ups and downs between 2000 and 2003, but lately, he has been on a winning streak, coming off a 9th round KO of Roy Jones.
In terms of boxing skill, Tarver has a strong jab, decent speed, and good punching power. Aside from being composed in the ring, Tarver throws punches in combinations and has sharp distancing tactics. He certainly has a height and reach advantage over Johnson. Johnson is a hard-hitting puncher who is very durable; often he has gone the rounds without tiring out and has much experience against various styles. He usually likes to throw the heavy artillery when possible to make up for his lack of reach and height against taller opponents.
As for predictions, not much is known about Tarver’s chin. If Johnson can apply the pressure on the inside, throw his hard punches, and be aggressive, Tarver is surely going to have problems. Tarver needs to be able to keep Johnson at a safe distance, use that jab, and possibly mix it up once in awhile. Tarver may have trouble putting the everlasting Johnson down and this fight may go to a decision in Tarver’s favor. Nevertheless, Johnson has the edge in power, despite the KO records. I see the fight being ended in knockout fashion with Johnson the victor. Moreover, Tarver doesn’t really have the motivation on his side. He has beat the best (Roy Jones), has completed his life-long goal, and really has nothing else to prove—unless he has a hunger to reign for years to come. Johnson, on the other hand, did not get cocky after beating Jones, and just wants to prove that he’s still a serious contender.