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Pay Per View with “The Boys”
By Martin Wade (May 18, 2004) 
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“If you hear any noise, it’s just me and the boys” George Clinton

Ahhh, the pageantry of a pay per view Saturday, for my buddies (mainstream sports fans) it’s a Roy Jones, JR. fight but for a boxing junkie it’s like the Super Bowl. Like the Super Bowl pay per view Saturday starts early for the hardcore. I read that Roy came in at 174, interesting. I then start my day with a light run and some boxing based training. Dam double end bag got the best of me again, how the hell does Roy Jones drop 16 hooks on this thing? Then it’s on to the liquor store (pronounced “likka sto” by me and my boys) to stock up on the Corona’s and some hard stuff for my boy Dave. You see, Dave has three daughters, he’s father of the year every year in my book, but if you see him you know why he’s in need of the hard stuff.

While the boys are still attending to marital duties I get things started by tuning in to NBC’s last installment of the Budweiser Boxing series. The first bout featured Sergio Mora against Les Ralston. Good scrap, good enough to wet this junkie’s appetite for the sweet science. I especially appreciate the amount of research given to two 8 round fighters; this kind of attention to “stories” is what created the stars of yesteryear. The headliner featured Heavyweight prospect Calvin Brock against rugged Arkansas Native Terry Smith.

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Brock came in at 226 for this windy city showdown, looking at his body leads me to believe he should be at 220. I’m not a big fan of the ‘evolution” theory in the heavyweight division. I sincerely believe the next guy will be around 220, heavy handed yet busy enough to through punches in bunches. The tap dancing heavyweight (Brock) banged out a quality win over smith, showcasing good speed, ability to fight a tough style and a solid chin. Calvin Brock also talks a good game and has a compelling story, let’s hope for boxing’s sake he can continue to develop appropriately.

It would be great to see a weekly boxing telecast that combines NBC’s attention to research with ESPN2’s studio segments. Add some competitive, meaningful fights and you have a recipe for boxing rejuvenation on network television.

After taking a shot nap, I woke up bright eyed and fuzzy tailed and put out the phone calls to “the boys”.

The Roll Call

OK Boxing fans allow me to introduce this motley band of reformed hoodlums I call “the boys”. First up is my man Charles, affectionately known as “Chicken Grease”. Charles’ is a cruiserweight, but his best years were at light heavyweight. His responsibilities include procurement and supplementation of the beverages. In other words, bring some damn beer man! Although he is my “homie” we must monitor this brotha because he’s kind of thrifty, there’s a story involving warm discounted beer that I don’t want to get into right now. Next up is my boy Dave, he’s a chiseled 175, but his best years were at middleweight, back then we used to refer to him as “Crazy David”. Now, with a house full of adorable daughters David is truly starting to live up to that nickname. And last, but not least there’s Mark, we call him “the Big Oak” due to his status as the heavyweight of the bunch. The big fella is in charge of the food, and he continues to raise the bar of excellence with each pay per view event. I would disclose his weight, but due to our size differential and his claims that I talk too much trash to be so little I chose to withhold such information.

The under card: what brutality. Not in the ring, but in the diabolical mind of Don King. What did we ever do to him to deserve this? The boys received the opening televised fight between flyweights Victor Burgos and Fahlan Sakkreerin with disdain. “Big Oak” (in true heavyweight flair) goes “man, I aint got no problem with them little dudes, but when I want to see the big fight I hate having to watch them.” I have to agree, but as a boxing writer I felt more vindicated when even Larry Merchant confessed to knowing little about the lower weight divisions. Fortunately enough the IBF champion Burgos showed some power and got Sakkreerin out of there in round seven.

The next bout featured the return of former Heavyweight Champion Bruce Seldon after an 8-year hiatus and a couple of fights into his comeback. I thought Seldon looked surprisingly solid at 251 yet the sight of Seldon brought roars of laughter from the boys. Seldon was facing Gerald Nobles who promptly commenced to shoving Seldon back into retirement.

Chicken Grease: “Man, that brotha looked like Muddy Waters”
(Roars of laughter)

Big Oak: Man, that Nobles cat look like he’s in need of a “manssier’
(Roars of laughter)

In round five Bruce Seldon showed some signs of life by returning fire while absorbing Nobles combination punching. Jim Lampley commented that he wouldn’t blame Seldon for finding a soft spot on the canvas. By round six Seldon strangely switched to southpaw and started to punch effectively actually winning the round. Round seven was nip and tuck; Manny Steward offered some great nuggets on how the 33-year-old Nobles performed in sparring with Lennox Lewis.

Chicken Grease: This fight is for the “child support championship of the world.”

Big Oak: Seldon is like, “alright after I win this fight ima get some better fitting trunks”, brotha got some John Stockton trunks.”

In round 8 Seldon started by flashing a jab and then switched back to southpaw. By rounds end Nobles pacified Seldon with sharp volume punching, by this point Seldon looked dead on his feet. At 2:29 of round nine Seldon went down with a left hand to a cut right eye and decided to stay down. This was a valiant showing, but in no way bought him reprieve from the boys.

Big Oak: OK, he just went from getting knocked out by Tyson to quitting cus some dude named Gerald hit him in the eye. (Roars of laughter)

Chicken Grease: ȁMan, he’s thinking, I’m going back to the factory.”

The next bout was a blatant attempt by Don King to position one of his name fighters (in this case Zab Judah) for a big rematch by picking up some hardware, any hardware. I have no problem with that; the problem came in the fight going 12 rounds. Larry Merchant made an excellent point about Floyd Mayweather, JR. not needing to play around to the extent that his buddy Zab does. Zab spent a lot of time preening and slapping instead of turning on his punches truly breaking the 38 year old Rafael Pineda down. It also seemed that Pineda’s rugged persistence seemed to bother Judah in stretches, proving he was underestimated when targeted as a “keep busy” fight.

Now it’s time for the main event Roy Jones, JR. Vs Antonio Tarver! My place erupted at the site of Roy Jones, JR. coming from the tunnel. I myself predicted a sadistic brand of punishment so I too was a little caught up in the moment yelling, “ Uh huh, let’s see what you gotta say now!” During the pre fight introductions “Big Oak” broke the room up with this one.

Man, that brotha (Jones) got mo belts than JC Penney, and got professional homies to hold em up for him.”

As the two best light heavyweights in the world faced each other at center ring Tarver uttered the now legendary words “ Do You have any excuses now Roy?” The boys greeted the comment with disgust, by this time the Corona count was high and the boys wanted Tarver shut up.

Round one started cautiously, Larry Merchant noting each fighter’s natural inclination to wait for counters. By mid round Roy seemed to adapt a menacing, forward commanding presence in the ring. Roy seemed very intent on being the aggressor, not allowing Tarver to make him retreat, Roy clearly won the round and it seemed as if Tarver was headed for trouble. Round two began with Tarver taking more of the offensive, landing his right jab and backing Jones up. Roy seemed determined to not allow Tarver this ground and dug in, after launching one of his patented ‘sneaky rights’ hands in the fights first real exchange it happened. Tarver beat what many say is the fastest boxer in history to the punch with a perfect overhand left. Roy Jones, JR. was down before he hit the canvas, eyes rolling in his head, an expression boxing fans have never seen in his illustrious career.

After struggling to get up (ala Tyson without the lost mouthpiece) Jones rose at “9” to the waiving arms of Jay Nady. The expression on the great fighters face was one of resignation and disgust; you could hear a pen drop at my address. As we watched the loquacious Tarver conduct his interview filled with references to inner strength and faith (things we should all know we by now) we wondered of Roy Jones’ mental state.

When reached for an interview Roy seemed a mosaic of contradiction, denial, boredom, shock and resistance. He talked with what seemed to be bitterness about fighting at light heavyweight, he even seemed to exude a kind of unfairness that people “live” to fight him. I thought that came with the territory of greatness? After all of these years I find it odd that Roy would speak of this dynamic as if it’s a burden. I’ve never seen a post fight interview that left me scratching my head and asking, what is he trying to say?

As for the boys, Chicken Grease (a martial arts instructor and boxing coach) talked in a sobering tone about how fundamentals catch up to the super gifted who got away with ignoring them in their youth. We talked about where Roy’s hand was (while delivering his blow) and how Ali used to pull his head back. The Big Oak (a teddy bear by nature) was at a loss for words. He then said, man doesn’t this feel like the night Tyson got beat by Douglas? We all agreed, knowing that in some way Saturday night we all got a little older. As the boys put on their jackets, heading home to tend to wives and their infant sons I offered my own nugget of wisdom. I said fellas “Boxing is a cold hearted blackjack dealer who cares not about the feelings of the idealistic.”

On Saturday night, Antonio Tarver did shock the world and shut a lot of mouths, mine being one of them. I only hope in the future that he is able to get the fights he deserves at the higher weights; I really believe the light heavyweight division has nothing more to offer the 6’2 southpaw.

For Jones I wish time, time to enjoy his family, his fortune and time to stop kicking himself for such a crushing defeat. I’d love to see him walk away, put on a tux and interview his old Florida rival because he no longer needs the ring to be “Roy”. But history has shown us over time those gladiators, no matter how rich just aren’t wired like that.

Until the next “Tarver” (for this piece)

The Boxing Junkie”.
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