Though no one has actually thrown a punch yet, this has already become a one-sided fight, a solo act performed by a fast-talking light-heavyweight who loves the spotlight almost as much as he loves himself.
And that’s what this fight needs, a little personality to make up for the absence of Roy Jones Jr., better known as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
Tampa’s Antonio Tarver can handle all the media attention. He thrives on it. Articulate and receptive, he‘s one of those guys who is easy to quote.
“Everyone knows I don‘t mind talking to the media and being the center of attention,” Tarver said at a recent press conference promoting his fight with Jones, who didn’t show up for the gala event. “I enjoy it and it’s part of being a superstar in this game.”
Jones, on the other hand, is becoming the Terrell Owens of the fight game. Sure, you admire his talent, but you’re tired of trying to figure out what craziness is going on inside his head. Is he going to play hoops, make records, raise roosters or fight?
Maybe he just wants to be alone.
Jones is set to fight Tarver in their light-heavyweight rubber match on Oct. 1 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. So far, ticket sales have been, as they like to say in the entertainment business, “brisk.” Something like 5,000 tickets were sold in the first three hours they opened the windows.
I honestly believe tickets are selling that fast. Even the salesman I talked to at the car dealership in Tampa where I just bought my truck had purchased four tickets down close to the ring, and it’s still August.
“The window opened at 10 a.m. and I got my tickets at 10:18,” he said. “Row 10. I wanted ringside, but that’s as close as I could get.”
Now I know why my truck was so expensive.
It would be nice if Jones made an appearance at a press conference, but if he needs his privacy, give it to him. Besides, this fight is an easy sell. Two title belt winners from Florida – one from Tampa and one from Pensacola – getting ready to duke it out in their home state.
On top of that, Tampa is still on a high following Jeff Lacy‘s recent demolition of Robin Reid on Aug. 6. A St. Petersburg resident, Lacy, the IBF super-middleweight champ, took a big purse cut to fight Reid in Tampa instead of Las Vegas. But a crowd of more than 15,000 showed up to tell him thanks.
That number helped bring the Tarver-Jones III fight to Tampa. And they’re expecting this fight to be even bigger, despite what Jones has been doing to help promote it: nothing.
Still, we’ve got Tarver to listen to.
He says his motivation for this fight is the way he’s been treated.
“I feel respect hasn’t been given to me,” he said. “And the people have not seriously crowned me as a superstar in this game of boxing.”
Tarver is right. He really hasn’t been shown a lot of respect for what he’s done in the prize ring. But c‘mon, he‘s in the light-heavyweight division, the weight class where fat middleweights go to die and where small heavyweights wish they had stayed.
Want to disappear for a few years, maybe join the witness protection program? Become a light-heavyweight contender.
The only reason Jones made such a loud noise as a light-heavy is because he stayed there so long and kept beating guys up.
It would be nice to hear what Jones has to say about this whole thing, but we can get along without it.
His history is doing his talking for him, and that should be good enough for all of us.