The latest news from boxing heaven is that Roy Jones and Antonio Tarver have agreed to meet for a third and hopefully final time on October 1 for the Magic Man’s light heavyweight title. The bad blood that has simmered between the two Florida fighters has apparently not cooled down over the years, and this rubber match is the result.
Those with a vested interest in the match have already begun banging the drum loudly, comparing it to some of the great trilogies of the past like Ali vs. Frazier and Gatti vs. Ward. But unlike the aforementioned matchups, Roy Jones, judging by his last three outings, has little if nothing left, except for his ego, his desire to go out on top, and his oh-so-vulnerable chin.
No one in their right mind disputes Jones’ supreme athleticism in his prime, but the premature comparisons, from knowledgeable boxing commentators no less, to Sugar Ray Robinson seemed overblown when they were first spoken, and time has borne that out. Roy dazzled us with his speed, his timing, and his exceptional reflexes – not to mention his canny matchmaking abilities – to remain at the top of the heap for the longest time. But those qualities have dissipated with age and the vagaries of success, and Jones, if he’s not careful, may really end up getting seriously hurt this time around.
Roy Jones Jr. is 36 years old. He has been inactive for a year. He is gainfully employed by HBO in a job where his flaws can hide behind a mike. One can only assume that Roy views his knockout losses as an aberration. Maybe moving up in weight to take on John Ruiz took more out of Roy than anyone imagined. Maybe coming back down in weight took something out of him as well. But avenging the loss to Tarver will do just so much to change reality, the reality being that this is a fight that does not need to happen, and that many wish was not.
If Jones pulls off the victory against Tarver, he might call it a day; if he’s victorious, he might go after Glen Johnson and try to avenge that loss; or, if X is still going at it, Roy can challenge the much reduced Hopkins after his rematch with Jermain Taylor. But whatever happens, Jones seems disinclined to bow out of the game gracefully – he could have done just that after any of his last three fights and everyone would have understood – so we’ll pay the price of admission to witness the hubris of a deluded former champion.
There will be some small satisfaction if Jones wins the fight. There will be some equally small satisfaction, especially to those who cringe at Roy’s megalomania, if he loses. Either way, this bout seems to have been made for all the wrong reasons, which, as we know, is never reason enough for a fight not to take place.