Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver continues to rant to anyone who will listen about how he was robbed against Roy Jones Jr. back in November of 2003 when they met in the boxing ring at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Tarver insists that justice was denied that night, that he should have retained the WBC and IBO Light Heavyweight titles that were at stake.
All this noise comes despite the fact that not one of the three judges sitting ringside had him winning the bout. If it were so obvious that he won the fight then surely someone would have seen it that way. They didn't because … he didn't. Tarver was wrong, not wronged.
Certainly Tarver performed better against Jones Jr. than anyone in recent memory, but that doesn't mean he is now 'the man'. Sure, he was the “champion” on paper coming into the bout – but not because he beat the man who was then the man. Montell Griffin was definitely not 'the man.' No, Tarver was merely squatting at the top of the division until the rightful owner returned home from a trip north to Heavyweight. Jones came back to Light Heavyweight and while he wasn't dominant, he won.
The problem in scoring boxing matches is sometimes in seeing who won the entire fight, as opposed to scoring each round one-by-one and then adding the scores together. If you put yourself in Tarver's shoes back in November, you might have been raising your hand at the end of 12 rounds thinking you had pulled of a huge upset too. Unfortunately for Tarver, winning one minute of a three-minute round leaves a lot of room open to interpretation. On a round-by-round basis, two of the three judges interpreted Roy Jones Jr. as having the advantage in those remaining two minutes. That's how Jones won the fight.
We heard much of the same noise being made by Vassiliy Jirov fans after he was allegedly “robbed” against Joe Mesi back in March of this year. When Joe Mesi had to pick himself off the canvas three times in the last two rounds of the fight the outcome seemed to tilt in favor of Jirov. However, Mesi had already won all seven of rounds 2-8 (all by 10-9 counts) by a clear margin. Jirov pocketed round 1 (10-9), round 9 (10-8) and round 10 (a rare 10-7). Add it together and the scores were announced with all three judges carding identical 94-93 scores in favor of “Baby” Joe Mesi. “Jirov was robbed!” they cried. No he wasn't, and neither was Tarver against Jones. That's the sweet science and it involves a little math.
As with most big fights there are a lot of questions set to be answered next Saturday as Jones Jr. and Tarver do it again in Las Vegas. Remember that Jones was coming back down to 175 pounds after beating John Ruiz as a heavyweight. Gaining and then losing approximately 20 pounds from one fight to the next can take its toll on a boxer and Jones was definitely not as slick as he had been in the past. Now 35 years of age, Jones must be looking at the downside of a solid career and one never knows when Father Time will exact his sometimes hefty toll. Roy Jones Jr. has been a fighter who relied on fast hands and slick moves – slipping just a half step from one fight to the next could prove the difference against the talented Tarver.
Last time we checked, Tarver was still tall, still lanky, still a southpaw and still delivers a piercing left hand. And he still lost the first fight with Roy Jones Jr.