Antonio Tarver vs Roy Jones Jr. III: Rubber Match
By Julian Kasdin (September 29, 2005)  
Photo © HBO-PPV
Saturday night is for all the marbles as Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver, 23-3 (18), defends his light heavyweight championship against fellow Floridian, and arch rival, Roy Jones Jr., 49-3 (38). This is an important fight for both men because it cements the winner’s legacy and the right to proclaim that they are the better man. Roy and Antonio have been competing against each other since the age of 13, when the two fought during the Sunshine State games; it was that first encounter that set the stage. From that moment on, and after Roy became a champion, it became Antonio’s goal to defeat him. Antonio got his chance and came up short the first time, only to knockout his rival the second time out, will he repeat this feat, or will Roy win and stake his claim to being one of the all time greats.

Antonio Tarver is a large light heavyweight, standing at 6’2” and walking around at as much as 220 pounds he is considerably larger then his foe. He also is one of the most skilled fighters and hardest hitters in the light heavyweight division. He is one of the few fighters that has defeated everyone he has faced, and has never lost a rematch. He has wins over many top light heavyweights, and with a win on Saturday can actually be considered a potential all time great. I don’t really think I need to tell anyone what Antonio should do, but that is what I do, so here goes. Tarver should use his reach advantage to get Jones with his long jab and straight, pushing Jones against the ropes, and pressuring him in much the same manner he did in the first fight, the second round of the second fight, and what Glen Johnson did to Roy in their fight. The worse place for Roy is on the ropes, and with his speed, power and skill Tarver can keep him there and punish him.

Roy Jones might be the greatest fighter of the last fifteen years. He has won titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, being the undisputed champion in two divisions, Darius had a claim as the linear champion at light heavy. He has defeated Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Montell Griffin, Julio Gonzalez, and even Antonio Tarver. His accomplishments match up with many great fighters from the past, but his recent fall could damage his standing in boxing history. Roy needs this win to not only become a true all time great, but possibly one of the greatest of all time. Roy needs to return to basics, he needs to use the jab to set up shots, he needs to get in on Tarver where his punches won’t be as effective, he needs to stay off the ropes and use masterful footwork, he needs to protect himself. Roy also needs to take the fight to Tarver, he isn’t the quick counter punching genius he used to be, he needs to have Tarver backing up, a position that sees Antonio become less effective.

Last weekend we saw Wladimir Klitschko resurrect his career against power punching Samuel Peter, can Roy Jones do the same? The truth is that Tarver is not Peter; Tarver is a tremendously skilled fighter, who is quick and powerful. Roy is a fighter who depended on blinding speed and perfect reflexes, once those went he started going down hill. I expect Tarver to be up for this match, and expect him to win, albeit probably not as quickly as the second time out. Look for Tarver to be on top of Roy from the beginning, pressuring him into the ropes and controlling the fight. The end result should either be a clear decision win, but more likely another knockout win against a man who used to never get touched.
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