HBO PPV goes all out with Tarver-Jones III. Roy Jones Jr. wants to set the record straight. He wants revenge for his kayo loss to Antonio Tarver in their second fight. Revenge may be sweet, but the sweet science can be bitter, as even casual fans are aware. But Jones was the man to beat forever. If anyone can beat the odds, it’s Roy Jones. Is there enough in Roy’s tank to befuddle the Magic Man? Or is it Tarver Time in Tampa? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.
I may not even watch the Roy Jones-Tarver fight. I'm afraid of what may happen to Jones. I was watching the promo for their fight the other day and Jones sounds like a guy who is going to take a severe beating, like Eric Harding when he fought Tarver the second time. Jones didn't sound over-confident, but he looked – and I'm basing this purely on an insignificant interview on HBO – like a shot fighter, mumbling how he's a warrior and this is what boxers are supposed to do. After watching Leavander Johnson's fight again on tape, I may skip this one and watch the Showtime card instead.
I think Tarver knocks him out inside of five rounds. Jones is at a tremendous psychological disadvantage, facing someone who has already knocked him out. I think Tarver will box aggressively. I think he's a good puncher and I think he'll get to Jones and knock him out again.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy
If the old Roy Jones is really back – both physically and mentally – Tarver will be in for a long night. If it's all still just a game to Jones, he won't survive six rounds. I'll be cheering for Tarver, a Tampa guy. But if I had to put money on it, I'd pick Jones. He wins by decision.
I've changed picks more times than I change my workout clothes in a seven-day week. I can make and defend arguments why Antonio Tarver will win and I can make and defend arguments why Roy Jones will win. I can also turn it around and explain why each cannot possibly win. I've made list after list of pros and cons for each. When it's all said and done, my lists show Tarver coming out victorious. Why then am I picking Jones? In two fights against Tarver, he's been life-and-death in one and starched in another. Then, he got starched again in his next outing. Blasted, then starched! Then, he took a long hiatus. Rust had to have formed on his already fading skills. Yet, I've seen Jones at his best. The last two times I saw him completely motivated were the nights he breezed past John Ruiz to capture the WBA heavyweight title and the night he smoked Montell Griffin. I know just how pumped he was that night against Griffin. I was the promoter for Jones-Griffin II at the Foxwoods Casino that night. Prior to the fight, Jones told me I could expect the outcome that he delivered. I see the fire in Jones' eyes again. I feel that for one more night, he'll put it all together for the victory, probably by decision. Hey, he's Roy Jones Jr. Ya'll must've forgot!
The late great Archie Moore referred to opponents that he just couldn't figure out as a “cousin.” A cousin is someone who has your number despite the fact that he may or may not prove as convincing against mutual opponents. For Moore, that man was Ezzard Charles. Despite meeting him on numerous occasions in the ring, Moore could never get past Charles – even though he would later achieve greatness and hold the light-heavyweight title for 10 years. Antonio Tarver has seemingly mastered the puzzle of Roy Jones. In their first meeting Jones never figured out Tarver and I think deep down he knows he lost the match. Of course there was no doubt in the rematch. Add to that, although he and Jones are the same age, there is little doubt that they are at very different places on their individual career paths. Jones may indeed be a spent fighter while Tarver may have a few big fights left in his tank. Of course the great thing about top fighters who are willing to put it all on the line is that we don't have to endlessly speculate. Anticipate Jones to start fast and try to gain respect. He'll want to prove he has truly committed himself to the task at hand and prove that it's all been just a big set of flukes that led to his recent knockout losses. Tarver will once again take his deliberate southpaw approach and befuddle Jones. Roy Jones has proven his greatness over an extended period but he has met the one man that he just can't figure out. Tarver by KO in 10.
Antonio Tarver is the same age as Roy Jones but has been fighting for half the time Jones has and also has had half as many fights. At the age they are, that translates to more of an edge in being fresh for Tarver than it does to Jones having the nod in experience. Jones has been off for a year, hasn't taken a tune-up fight, and has been stopped in his past two fights (by both Tarver and Glen Johnson). I think the move up to heavyweight has damaged Jones for good because he did it so late in his career; his body just isn't what it was before the move up. Tarver hits hard enough and is technically a sound fighter, one good enough to beat Jones for a second time on this night. Not concerned about Tarver taking Jones lightly, no way, they don't like each other.
What does Roy Jones have left? My mind says nothing, my heart says something – at least enough to defy the odds one last time and (somewhat) restore his tarnished legacy. Jones hunts and pecks his way to a split decision victory.
I've never been one impressed with Antonio Tarver and his fighting style. Something about it rubs me the wrong way. For some reason I'm of the feeling Roy Jones is training his ass off and is going to be ready. Do I think he's the Roy Jones of old? No way. But neither is Tarver. And I see Jones sticking and moving his way to a close, probably boring decision.
Tarver arguably beat Jones two times already. There's no reason to believe he won't do it a third time. Tarver TKO 8.
Save your $50. Give it to a hurricane disaster fund. Buy a new bowling T-shirt for your wife. Go to a saloon. (That’s two “o’s.”) Pay $50 to watch Roy Jones play tarpaper shack in a Cat 5 hurricane? You’ve got to be kidding me. The guy was boring when he could fight. Sorry, when he could box. He never fought, not in any real sense of the word. That china chin of his was the best-kept secret in sports. He did not just avoid honest combat, he ran from it. He was the fastest and the most skilled, but on any given day, 1000 other guys in leather mittens and short pants ranked far ahead of him as the bravest. His last two fights ended with him on his back, looking up, wondering where his legs had gone. With cable television paying him millions to fight tomato cans, he took his show to Portland, Oregon and Biloxi, Mississippi and Mashantucket, Connecticut. He fought people Lou Del Valie and Reggie Johnson and David Telesco. He won by scores of 118-9, 119-109 and 118-109; and 120-106, 120-106 and 120-106; and 120-108, 120-106 and 120-108. He gave new meaning to the phrase brilliantly boring. So, if you want to blow fifty bucks to see Jones’ chin go three-for-three, be my guest. Or, you can flip to the other big cable channel and watch James Toney take the measure of somnambulist Dominick Guinn, followed by Chris Byrd winning a six-day dance marathon over a dangerous but frustrated DaVarryl Williamson.
Tarver showed what champions are made of in his return with Johnson. Armed with that confidence – the chance to secure his legacy and make Jones eat crow, he should be a coiled spring at the bell. His ring walk should be “All jacked up!” Jones, in seclusion, has one image fueling him: jumping to the top rope, punching the sky, “Y’all must’ve forgot! So, it comes down to a superbly conditioned, motivated Tarver against a rededicated Jones at his best. At his best, he’s better than Tarver – more gifted – more fluid – more ring savvy – more spontaneous. But is it worth a hill-of-beans when Tarver “brings it”? (An understatement.) Fresh with the memory of cold-cocking Jones, Tarver’s itching to prove the left wasn’t Haley’s Comet. For the first time since James Toney, it’s personal with Jones – a man’s humbled him in the ring and rubbed his nose in it. He doesn’t want to win; he wants a pound-of-flesh. Between both these guys, if you could bottle pride, you’d have something to rival cold fusion. I think Jones is going to surprise the doubters and stuff the haters. He’ll reach down and find the brilliance that made him the unquestioned marvel of the sport. Tarver will do more, but Jones will do more effectively and win a UD.
Roy Jones, Jr. keeps making excuses about his back-to-back knockout losses. He says this time will be different and the old Jones, Jr. will return. Despite the fact that his father has rejoined him in his corner and he's worked harder than ever to prepare for this fight, I don't see the young Roy ever returning. Tarver is a southpaw who's bigger, sharper, and punches harder than Jones, Jr. Tarver may not catch Jones, Jr. as quickly as he did in their last fight, but catch him he will. I like Tarver by KO in Round 5.
Antonio Tarver has had 24 tough rounds with Glen Johnson since knocking out Jones. Jones has had no rounds since suffering his second straight knockout, by Johnson. Could Jones possibly be fighting to just last the distance so that his career does not end on consecutive knockouts? Tarver by decision?
Roy Jones is not a shot fighter. He is simply a humbled one. This Saturday, he will enter the ring more prepared and focused than he has been in years. The fight will feature a lot of pressure on both sides, but in the end Jones will have prevailed. This time, there will be no controversy. Jones by unanimous decision.