Beating Roy Jones Jr. Doesnít Mean Youíre The Best

27.06.05 - By James Allan: While most of the general fans attention is drawn to the prospect of a tournament to finally crown a unified heavyweight champion, it might not be a bad idea to also organise a tournament to crown a unified light Ė heavyweight champion at the same time. Now most people will argue that at this exact moment in time Antonio Tarver, courtesy of his win over Glencoffe Johnson is the man at 175. Not only has he avenged his loss over this opponent, he also holds a second round knockout victory over Roy Jones Jnr. But the fact also remains that Tarver has 3 losses on his record, one each to the aforementioned opponents and one to Eric Harding. This loss he also avenged, knocking out Harding in the fifth round of their return match. His losses to Jones and Johnson were close affairs, a split decision against Johnson and a majority decision against Jones. But there are more to these stats than meets the eye.

Against Harding, Tarver was thoroughly outboxed, losing by scores of 111 Ė 116 on all three cards, and also being put on the canvas in the 11th. He may have done a lot of complaining after his loss to Jones, but the simple truth is that Jones deserved to win that match.. It is now obvious that this is the fight that first brought to peopleís attention the fact that Jones had passed the peak of his career, but regardless of this, on that night Tarver didnít do enough to win. Jones dug deep over the last two rounds and just managed to scrape the victory.

Tarverís second round KO of Jones was spectacular, but given how obvious it was in their first fight that Jones was not the fighter he used to be, it shouldnít have been as much of a shock as it was. In Jonesí next fight Johnson proceeded to knock Jones all over the ring for eight rounds before eventually knocking him out in the ninth. This victory combined with his win over Clinton Woods in an IBF title fight meant that he and Tarver were accepted as the top two in the division and that the winner of their first fight would be acclaimed as the number one.

But before going on a streak of three high profile wins in the L/HW division, Johnson had 9 losses on his record. In the 175 division he had lost to Julio Gonzalez and Derick Harmon. Gonzalez beat Dariusz Michalczewski for the WBO title before he lost it to Zsolt Erdei in his first defence. Gonzalez is now lined up as the opponent for Clinton Woods first defence of the IBF title he recently won. Harmonís career has slipped so far out of sight it canít be seen at all now. Losses to Montell Griffin, Michalczewski, OíNeil Bell and Jorge Fernando Castro have practically ruled him out of any major title shots in the division.

This is hardly the kind of form that would suggest number one status. Throw in the other two major title holders, Fabrice Tiozzo who holds the WBA version and the undefeated Tomasz Adamek who holds the WBC title and suddenly the division isnít as clear cut as some people would like to make it out to be. In truth, the only reason that Tarver and Johnson were acclaimed as the top two is because they both have wins over a Roy Jones Jnr who is nowhere near the boxer he used to be. Woods has already stated that he would like a chance to fight Johnson again, and given the manner of his win over Rico Hoye he would have to be given a chance. As already said Adamek is undefeated, he would surely fancy his chances against both Johnson and Tarver.

Tiozzo holds a sixth round KO over Michalzewski in his last fight and he Tarver and Johnson are all the same age, 36, Woods is 33, Erdei is 31 and Adamek is the youngest of them all at 28. For the first four fighters time is running out. There are probably only a few more big paydays left for them now and if they are hanging on hoping for a Jones return to provide it, then they are wasting their time. Jones may talk about coming back, but he isnít going to do it. He is too rich, too old, too slow and it has now been shown that he is too chinny to ever reach the top of the L/HW tree again. He knows this, and because he knows it he wonít be back.

Hopkins and Calzaghe are both talking about stepping up, but Hopkins is now 41 years old and has a flourishing career outside of boxing beckoning. Calzaghe is lined up to meet the winner of the Lacy Ė Reid bout and by the time he is ready to step up, precious time will have slipped away from Tarver, Johnson and Tiozzo.

The best thing these fighters can now do is to face each other, make a lot of money and leave us with one champion. That way everybody will be happy.

Article posted on 27.06.2005

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