Fists of Kryptonite and the Man of Steel; If the Right Doesn’t Get you the Left One Will
By Wayne Richardson (May 17, 2004)
The left one certainly did catch Roy Jones, JR. flush on the chin. Tarver’s counter that came over top of Roy’s right hand was near perfect, the leverage, speed and accuracy combined to produce a punch that even the toughest of beards would have had difficulty withstanding.
Photo © German Villasenor
RJJ, like so many of us never saw it coming, but the effects were devastating as he fell backwards into the corner clearly hurt. He attempted to rise, but his shaky legs weren’t ready thus causing him to stumble before rising at the count of seven. The heart may have wanted to go on, but the brain and body were still another five seconds behind as the referee wisely waved off the fight. At that time of the stoppage, a collective gasp went up from the boxing world as the shock of seeing fifteen years of dominance end with the wave of referee Jay Nady’s arms. Not since February 11 1990, when Buster Douglas ended Tyson’s reign has one knockout had so much impact on the sport of boxing.
The fight had the beginnings of any typical Roy fight with him controlling the first round. Both men came out cautious, circling each other and waiting for the other to throw something. RJJ finally initiated the attack with right hand leads that forced Tarver to the ropes while Antonio appeared to be tentative and waiting for an opening. The round continued on like this with Roy, landing lead rights to the body and head at will and clearly looking like he was going to have has way with another opponent.
The turning point of the short fight was between rounds when Tarver’s Trainer Buddy McGirt chided him for being too respectful and not forcing the attack. McGirt succeeded in lighting a fire under Antonio with suggestion that he was respecting Roy too much, telling him to force RJJ back to the ropes.
It was exactly what Tarver proceeded to do and with a single punch tore the Big Red S off Roy’s chest. He also silenced critics and the 85% of the boxing public who said he had no chance of winning. The general opinion was that he wouldn’t beat a top conditioned Jones much less stop him and that his griping about the last match was tiresome. He proved himself as a top fighter in the division and backed up all the trash talk, for that you have to give him his due respect.
The next step for each fighter will have to be decided in the future. Roy needs time to see if boxing is still in his heart and if he has any desire to continue. He has been boxing for over twenty five years and time may be beginning to take its toll mentally and physically. He may have lost this match, but you can’t deny him his claim to greatness. Unfortunately, you’re only as good as your last fight in many eyes. Roy’s ego will not let him walk away with this dark cloud over his career, with people questioning if he was as good as he appeared or was it carefully chosen opponents that made him appear as such. It does look as if his days as a light heavy weight are over given that he can longer make the weight easily and the money is in the big division.
A possible rematch at heavyweight with Tarver could take place given that Antonio appears eager to rise in weight also. If Jones doesn’t look to avenge against his only legitimate loss, but chooses to fight on, the only match to give him credibility would be against James Toney. The fans would love to see it and Toney has long been eager to avenge his loss to RJJ making this a very real possibility.
The big difference in Roy Jones, JR. now may be a confidence issue, he is no longer Superman and his cape of invincibility is torn. The man has felt the power of a knockout punch and if he fears that damage in the way of what happened to his friend Gerald McClellan could happen to him it could possibly ruin him as a fighter. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure is Roy has always done what he pleases and this time will be no different. He knows his spot on HBO is safe as is his induction into the Hall of Fame and with a pocket full of money; it just may be enough for him.
As for Tarver, he just needs some time to enjoy his victory and bask in the glory of beating this generation’s greatest boxer. His life will now be very different and he in now the man to beat for the time being. He has options opened up before him whether he chooses to stay in his division or move up. Being a Don King fighter gives him easy access to a heavyweight title shot against three of the belt holders and even one of the cruiserweight belts if he decides to attempt to grab another division championship on the way up. He also has a couple of good match ups in the light heavy division by taking on the winner of Glenncoffe Johnson Vs Joe Calzaghe or facing the man many say RJJ ducked, Dariusz Michalczewski.
The question remains to be seen if Tarver can be embraced by the fans. Although he did back up all his trash talking many found him too arrogant and unlikable. Boxing already has James Toney as it resident airbag and while he is loved for his funny statements, the opposite is happening for Tarver. Will he go through every fight as the underdog and will he ever receive the respect he feels is due? Fans are picky and when they take a dislike to a boxer, no matter what he does he will never capture their hearts. Tarver could be one of these great fighters who never appeal to the fans, a 2004 version of former Heavyweight Champion, Larry Holmes.
The Under card
Zab Judah showed once again that he is still too immature to ever be considered a great boxer. He received an undeserved split decision win over Rafael Pineda who was the busier more aggressive fighter.
Judah looked good in spurts, starting the fight explosively with hard left hands and great speed, but then either by tiring himself out or feeling the fight was easy he chose to lie up on the ropes and clown around or talk to the audience. Pineda carried on with steady pressure, landing his jab and straight rights.
After losing rounds three, five and six due to inactivity, Zab once again poured it on in the seventh round with a hard attack that dropped Pineda legitimately once the other knockdown came as he was tripped by Judah. Pineda reciprocated for the trip with a kick to Judah’s crotch that went unnoticed by the referee. The second knockdown was the result of an accumulation of blistering left hands to Rafael head that cause him to take a fall to end the attack.
Remarkably Pineda came back from the round to dominate the last five rounds by being the busier more aggressive boxer though very little power was left in his punches, the result of Zab’s body attack. Judah had no attack from the eighth round on and instead chose to fool around, hitting his opponent in the legs and taunting him. A cramped leg muscle may have been a factor for this inactivity, as the fight ended Zab was rubbing his calf and shaking it of.
Personally I think it was posturing in case he needed an excuse for a fight he clearly lost. The win did nothing to improve his credibility in the welterweight division because he was outworked by a 38 year old who in his prime would have stopped Judah.
Zab must improve his focus if he wants to stay in the 147 weight class, a fighter like Antonio Margarito or Vernon Forrest will take him apart easily. He is basically one loss away from being considered huge waste of talent.
Doghouse scored the fight 115-113 Pineda
The Atlantic City Express better known as Bruce Seldon, continued on his recent comeback and was derailed by heavyweight prospect Gerald Nobles. It had been eight years since his beating at the hands of Mike Tyson and with this the third fight in his career resurrection; Bruce Seldon was hoping to erase the memory of losing his title in a one round knockout.
Both fighters came out winging hard shots with each landing heavy blows, including one monstrous left hook that slowed, but didn’t stop Nobles. The action continued until both men exhausted themselves and ended the round in a clinch, but not before a cut was opened up on Seldon’s right eye.
The second round saw Nobles dominate, backing Bruce in to the corner and firing at will. Seldon scored a knockdown against an off balance Nobles who stepped straight back out of the pocket and caught a counter left hook to the temple. He rose unhurt and continued to win the round, but losing a point as a result.
The rest of the fight was a repetitive display of Seldon doing very little with Nobles stalking him to the corner and throwing a pawing jab and right hands. Bruce looked good in short flashes, exhibiting a fast accurate jab that snapped his opponents head, but could not sustain the attack and gave the fight away to his younger adversary.
Finally in the ninth round with Seldon trailing on the scorecard, a Nobles right hand raked across Bruce’s damaged eye causing him to drop to a knee and be counted out. The only results this fight produced is that Seldon should retire and if Nobles keeps using his weak jab against top opponents, he is going to be stopped by a hard counter right.
At the time of stoppage Doghouse scored this match 77-75 for Nobles.
The first bout of the evening saw Victor Burgos defend his 108 lb title against Fahlan Sakkreerin by stoppage in the sixth round. Victor dropped Sakkreerin twice, the second with a beautiful triple left hook that kept him down.
Burgos attacked in a low crouch, abandoning the jab in favor of right hand lead and left hooks. He pressed the action with solid combinations and a tough body attack. The game Sakkreerin tried to keep the pressure off of him, but his lack of power prevented him from earning any respect from the champion.
A questionable knockdown of Burgo’s (a replay showed a trip) in the forth round had brought the score even going into the fifth, but the body attack was beginning to wear down the challenger and by the end of the round, he was beginning to show weariness.
The stoppage came at 1:43 of the sixth round. This match between two small warriors was the best fight on the televised under card and sets up a possible match between Burgos and fellow Mexican Jorge Arce.
Doghouse had the fight score 47 -47 at time of stoppage.
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