19.10.05 – By Travis Marks: In the wake of his second victory over archrival and all-time great Roy Jones Jr., Antonio Tarver finds himself at somewhat of a crossroads. Over the past three years Tarver has fought a virtual who’s who in the light-heavyweight division. He’s taken on the likes of former top contender Eric Harding, former champion Montell Griffin, Glen Johnson twice, and Roy Jones Jr. in a trilogy. He’s has more than accounted for himself against all of those fighters, so what else is left for him?
At the age of thirty six Antonio does not have many years left, so the time for him to move is now. He could try to unify the light-heavyweight titles by fighting unheralded champions, Tomasz Adamek, Fabrice Tiozzo, Clinton Woods, and Zsolt Erdei. After five fights with Jones and Johnson the boxing public would demand more from Tarver than fights with those gentlemen. Tarver needs to seek out challenges from elite fighters with recognizable names. The perfect fight for Tarver to take would be one with James Toney.
Toney, like Tarver has found much success in the ring lately. After defeating cruiserweight king Vassiliy Jirov is a tough fight in late 2003, Toney has been on a roll. He dismantled former heavyweight great Evander Holyfield in nine rounds, beat up on unbeaten prospect Rydell Booker over twelve rounds, out boxed John Ruiz and dominated the once highly touted Dominic Guinn.
With both men on the top of their games, the timing is perfect for a showdown. Tarver has even mentioned Toney as a possible future opponent. While many might think that he is biting off more than he can chew, Tarver feels quite the contrary. In an interview Antonio Tarver stated that he believes he can beat James Toney. His reasoning is simple. Tarver feels that because he was able to defeat Roy Jones Jr. and Montell Griffin, two men who were triumphant over Toney in the past, he would be able to beat James as well. Toney feels that he would easily beat Tarver because he views Antonio as untalented.
A fight between Tarver and Toney would be intriguing. Toney being a natural middleweight has maintained his overall skills and ring generalship as a heavyweight. While he may not be as fast with his hands as he used to be, James has been able to still utilize the skills that has made him the exceptional fighter that he is. Toney is a defensive wizard and master boxer. He can fight from either the outside or the inside. He utilizes every punch in the game. A natural counter puncher, he is not at all reluctant to lead. He fights for every second of every round until the last bell sounds. His defense is remarkable. He literally stands in front of his opponents but never gets hit flush. His chin is one of the best in boxing; in fact he’s never really been hurt. His only negatives are that he is sometimes unfocused, is most times out of shape and may experience difficulties with boxers who use their legs to avoid confrontation.
Tarver like Toney is a natural counter puncher but that’s where the similarities end. Tarver is a reluctant fighter. He is quite comfortable waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. Antonio has the utmost confidence is the power of his left hand. His prodigious power affords him the opportunity to turn a fight around at any point. Antonio is a very tall and rangy fighter. He keeps his opponent at bay with an effective right jab. His jab is one of the many components in very sturdy defense. Antonio is always dress down in defense as it appears that he sees every punch coming. When hit he has proven to have a strong chin as he has only been down once as a professional. Tarver has one very glaring weakness; he has horrible stamina. In almost every lengthy fight Antonio wears down. His mouth is oftentimes open as he is gasping for air.
Styles make fights. A fight with Toney would not be a good one for Tarver. Where Tarver likes to take his time in fights you find Toney pressing the action. Toney would really try to wear down Tarver with unrelenting body shots. Tarver would try to pick his spots and try to land that big left hand but would be unsuccessful doing so. Even if he hits Toney it would never be clean enough to do the damage needed. The body shots would eventually take a tremendous the toll on Antonio Tarver. He would eventually succumb to Toney the way that Evander Holyfield did. Toney would win via mid-late round knockout.