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Next Appearing on a Milk Carton - Antonio Tarver

BY Joey Knish ON September 22, 2004
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Be on the lookout in the dairy section of your local grocery store – the face of Antonio "Magic Man" Tarver may be the next mug you pull off the shelf.

We warned Tarver to be careful what he wished for – and he got it. Now that the man who beat the man is the man, but no one is knocking down his door like they need him and nobody is throwing millions of dollars at him to grace the ring any time soon. Instead, Tarver could steal the title from the Roy Jones Jr. hit - pun intended - rap song and proclaim, “ya’ll must’ve forgot.”

Yes, Tarver did beat Jones Jr. in a shocking and abrupt manner as he landed the perfect punch at the perfect time and the result was, well, perfect. The aftermath of that feat has been void of hoopla and multi-million dollar fight offers. While Tarver talks one of the best games in town, it seems that no one has been listening since he shocked Roy four months ago after bad-mouthing the superstar. A little sweet talk to the same Jones Jr. just may be in order for Tarver if he cares to do more than just spit polish the WBC, IBO, IBA and NBA Light Heavyweight titles he still possesses. (I hadn’t been aware that the NBA had ventured into the business of branding boxing champions, but think Tarver may have already vacated that one in order to lighten his workload.)

Since disposing of Roy Jones Jr. in May with a perfectly placed counter in round two of the rematch to Jones’ 12-round decision victory, Tarver hasn’t even had serious talks regarding a return to the ring. The man he beat will be taking on tough, durable Glengoffe Johnson for the IBF Light Heavyweight title Johnson won by decisioning Clinton Woods.

Jones is taking the best available route to becoming champion again by taking on Johnson for his IBF belt. The IBF title is more highly regarded than three of the four belts Tarver won and with the word “champion” in front of his name Jones becomes the meal ticket at the box office once more. However, Johnson is one tough nut so we won’t get ahead of ourselves before he and Jones meet this weekend on HBO. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Glengoffe Johnson has 40 wins, 9 losses and 2 draws in a 51 fight pro career, but he has only been stopped once in those 9 losses and that was by Bernard Hopkins in 11 rounds for the IBF Middleweight belt back in 1997. The guy is very durable, won’t be fazed and can certainly take a shot.

With Jones seemingly on the verge of righting the wrong of not being champion - because it just doesn’t sound right, darn it - we turn the page to Tarver. Like it or not, and Antonio hates it, many will still view Jones as the division King while Tarver remains a Pawn.

Beyond Tarver-Jones Jr. III the options are limited, as Tarver’s booking agent has sadly discovered. Rather than capitalize on his major victory, the ‘Magic Man’ may find himself turning to Jones once more for some financial assistance. The Light Heavyweight rankings aside from Tarver, Jones and Johnson are a mixed bag of Darius Michalczewski, Tiozzo, Erdei, Thomas Ulrich, Rico Hoye and Montell Griffin. Neither Jones nor Tarver have expressed any interest in traveling overseas where the WBA belt rests with unknown Hungarian Zsolt Erdei or to France where Fabrice Tiozzo can be found coddling his WBA trinket. Michalczewski won’t leave the comfort of fighting in Germany and Ulrich too has a hankering for home cooked sauerkraut and lederhosen.

Assuming the Americans stay in America and the Europeans stay in Europe, as the pattern has been, the choices for both Jones and Tarver are limited to the prospect Hoye and retread Griffin. Glengoffe Johnson is the only one of the boxers listed above who has fought both in the United State and Europe. He has said he’ll fight anyone anywhere and unlike many others his record backs that up.

Tarver and Jones have each disposed of Griffin in the past and now Griffin has gone and nearly spoiled things entirely by exposing Hoye. Last weekend the veteran Griffin took the starry eyed Hoye twelve rounds and despite losing a close, disputed split decision, raised more questions about Hoye than were answered. That bout was the IBF Eliminator preceding the IBF title bout between Jones and Johnson. A Jones-Hoye bout likely won’t excite many, not to the extent a third rumble for the right to ramble with Tarver could.

A fighter’s marketability is directly related to what he has done for us lately and Tarver hasn’t even used his ample vocabulary to give us a glimpse of what he might do next.

Stuck on the outside looking in, it is time for "Magic Man" Tarver to pull a rabbit out of his hat and awe us all once more - before it’s too late. If not for his visage on a milk carton, we all might’ve forgotten.

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