Tarver – Jones: The Thrilla in Tampa


29.09.05 – By Scoop Malinowski / Boxinginsider.com – “No two men can be half an hour together but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.” — Samuel Johnson

It’s a classic confrontation, one for the ages. The outspoken, articulate ambassador though vastly underrated and underappreciated hero vs. the once-mighty superstar me-first primadonna who has fallen heavily from his pound-for-pound pinnacle.

Tarver and Jones collide again in one of the most fascinating showdowns of the modern era.

Will the faded superstar be able to overcome the shock and humiliation of two one-sided drubbings in his last two fights? Will Jones be able to find the magic one more time? Or has his ego tricked him into believing he can offset Tarver when the truth is he is finished at the highest level of the sport because his greatest power – his speed – has dissipated?

By Jones’s antics this week in Tampa, refusing to share the same room with Tarver, etc., it would seem to indicate Jones is uncomfortable being around Tarver, to some degree, somewhat like Ali’s verbal mastery always seemed to discombobulate Joe Frazier. Tarver naturally seems to know which buttons to push, he seems to have Jones completely figured out. No matter what Roy says in the media, Tarver always has the wittier comeback. Never was it so apparent as when we heard Tarver say, I have a question, what excuses are you gonna use tonight Roy?

Tarver out-Ali’d even Ali with that historic line which will always be one of the most memorable one-liners in sports history.

Jones just can’t seem to find an exploitable weakness in Tarver. It is my contention that Tarver totally conquered Jones psychologically before the last fight with all those interviews in which he exposed Jones’ lies and hypocracies. Tarver knew Jones tried to avoid the rematch – with the help of HBO – and he never shut up until Jones finally signed on the dotted line. Tarver knew he had Jones mentally and once you win the psychological fight, the physical fight is easy. That’s why it only took seven punches to destroy the great Roy Jones.

No one can say it was a lucky punch or Jones was not quite right, blah blah blah, that’s nonsense. Antonio Tarver performed one of the greatest, most spectactular upset shockers in the history of boxing and all of sports. He absolutely deserves all the credit for slaying the Goliath of Roy Jones. And he did it with style that even Ali, Jordan, Tiger, Tyson and The Babe surely had to admire.

And I believe he is going to do it again. Tarver is taking this fight more seriously than the last one. He knows Jones is a desperate man to salvage his legacy and reputation. He knows Jones would risk all his millions, his health, everything really, to go out a winner – and not a knocked out loser. Tarver understands Jones better than any of us, he knows the Jones ego and is confident he can handle anything that comes his way in the ring on Saturday night.

Jones is the wildcard in this fight. Superman will try to conjure up the magic one last time. WIll he be able to turn back the clock and somehow re-find that superhuman hand and foot speed and utilize one of the greatest weapons in ring history to defeat Tarver? You can never count out Jones. Like he has shown many times, he is capable of almost anything in the ring, even stopping a challenger with a punch launched from behind his back!

If Jones is able to be successful in Tampa on Saturday night I believe it has to be considered one of the greatest comebacks ever. To witness Jones after the Glen Johnson massacre – laying there prone, as if in some kind of imaginary coffin – it is almost unfeasible to believe he can rise from that.

But Roy Jones is not the average normal human being. He is capable of superhuman feats.

The problem is Antonio Tarver has that kind of capacity and determination just as well.

It just may come down to who wants it more. It may turn into that kind of vicious struggle we don’t often see at the highest level of boxing any more, such as The Thrilla in Manila.

I’m leaning for Tarver to do it again, but Jones is a dangerous warrior who, for the first time, is the clearcut underdog – and in a fight he really, desperately needs to win. We could see an aspect of Jones’ greatness we have never seen before.

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