Tarver Reveals Kryptonite In His Gloves

Knocking-Out “Super Man” Jones Jr.

15.05.04 – By Christopher Dawson: Tonight at Mandalay Bay Center, against all odds and expert opinion, Antonio Tarver finally reached the pinnacle of his profession. The bout did not start in Antonio’s favor as Roy Jones Jr. landed almost all of the blows in the first round. Jones hit Tarver with some serious shots to the body and a few hard right hands to his head. Still, it seemed that Antonio was much too strong physically to show even the slightest effect from Jones’ best shots. Tarver showed more confidence coming in to this fight, than any other Jones opponent ever has, even going as far as to respond to referee Jay Nady’s staunch-timeless pre-fight question “Do either of you have any questions?” with “Yeah, I have a question, Roy, you got any excuses tonight?” Roy put his head down and walked back to his corner ignoring Antonio’s bravado, however the damage was already inflicted and Antonio had achieved the psychological advantage before the fight really began.

During round one, Roy Jones Jr. had every reason to feel confident in his display of superiority over Tarver. He was controlling the fight in the middle of the ring, avoiding the ropes and corners and stinging Tarver with wicked body punches and the occasional punch to the temple. Still, Tarver seemed un-phased. Again, after round one, the psychological advantage went to Tarver as his legendary corner man, Buddy McGirt seemingly concerned over what had happened in the first three minutes of the fight, leaned in towards Tarver and stated “You are giving this man too much respect”. To which Tarver snapped, “I have no respect for him”. Tarver would later attempt to rephrase his wording and it’s context, but he was more likely caught up in the moment of the bout at the time.

The fact that Tarver was unaffected by the goings on of the first round again indicated that he held the psychological edge, as any fighter will tell you that after hitting a man with your best punch and seeing him show little effect can drain the fight out of a man or steel away the mental edge in a bout. It seemed to me that if anything, Tarver had his left hand cocked through out the first round, waiting to time Jones Jr. Tarver and his trainer McGirt, both stated before the fight that they knew exactly how Roy would fight because he only knows one way, as versatile as that may be. Tarver kept that left hand cocked and ready for Roy to make a mistake and boy what a mistake he made in the second round. Roy hit Tarver with some more hard punches until he found his back about four feet from a neutral corner. He nailed Antonio with one of his hardest right hands and clearly shook Tarver. Roy could not resist the temptation to try to roll Antonio early in the fight as he had every right to think he had his man where he wanted him, so he opened up with a wide left hook. That was his mistake, he clearly hadn’t noticed through thirteen rounds of boxing that Antonio Tarver takes a great punch and recuperates as well as any fighter in recent memory. Tarver saw his chance with Roy’s careless left hand, angered by the hard right he had just received on the bridge of his nose, Antonio took a two step shuffle towards Roy and threw a perfect left hand with all of the weight and balance in his body. The punch landed flush on the right side of Roy’s jaw like a bolt of green kryptonite on the “Super man’s” face. Jones’s head thudded hard on the ring apron. As the upper torso and head -of the man generally considered the pound for pound king of the ring for the last decade- lay outside the ring ropes, it seemed unlikely that Roy would recover. This was no flash knock down, it was devastating and it shocked the millions of pay per view fans as well as the thousands in attendance. At first, it seemed that Roy might make the count at around the nine mark, but I believe the count was at ten when Roy was still only half way up. Even if the count had only reached nine, Roy was clearly on Queer Street as he began a walk towards the ropes, and it appeared they were the only thing holding him up from falling. He then walked blindly in to a neutral corner, still dazed for a few more seconds before becoming aware of what had just happened.

Antonio Tarver finally made the statement he had been trying to lay claim to for the past two years. He is no longer one of the top two or three light heavyweights in the world. He deserves to be labeled number one. He showed us exactly what he said he was going to do. He didn’t leave the decision up to the judges, because he had learned from the last fight. Good for Antonio, now we have a champion at light heavyweight that likes to fight the best and doesn’t expect recognition until he does so. He deserves all accolades and a fight with James Toney may not be out of the question. A possible match up with Joe Calazaghe of Wales may also be on the for-front and could provide the sort of fire works that couldn’t be expected at a Jones Jr. bout.

Roy Jones Jr. showed the kind of class that I hadn’t expected from Super Roy in defeat. Then again, I’d never really seen him lose so it was hard to gauge how he would re-act. I think his cocky attitude and bragging made me believe that he would poor out excuses and be a poor sport, but to my pleasant surprise he gave all props to Tarver and was nothing less than a complete gentleman in defeat. I believe he has earned a rematch and that he is truly a legendary fight of all times.

In summary, tonight’s fight couldn’t have come at a better time for the sport, because this kind of shake up is what boxing needs every once in awhile.

Article posted on 16.05.2004

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