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Ya’ll want some “get back”?
By Martin Wade (Jun 1, 2004) 
Roy Jones, JR.
Seeing Roy Jones, JR. stand before about 1,500 Pensacola natives, deeply moved and using words like “need” was an image of poignancy. I’ll bet that up to this point he never truly understood how passionate people are about their favorite fighters until he stood at that podium last Saturday. Antonio Tarver should be lauded for his determination and ability to execute in the moment of truth, but he has also given boxing fans so much more.

With one crushing left hand he succeeded in humanizing what many fans wanted to consider “other” than. With one crashing left hand (that by the way was not “lucky”) Antonio Tarver brought Roy Jones face to face with what is real, the good and the bad. Many who harbor resentment of Jones (for one reason or another) are having a field day writing and discussing the “bad” aspect of this reality unaware of the duality that lies beneath all things. In other words, underneath all victories lays defeat (as evidenced May 15th) and under all defeats there is victory. Allow me to venture into what is “good” about Roy Jones’ crushing defeat to Antonio Tarver.

Many of us have no idea the sacrifices that a professional fighter makes and those folks couldn’t last a round with a c- level club fighter yet, we feel we can question a mans heart. For the first time on May 15th Roy Jones consummated the deal that all gladiators make when he hit the canvas. The great thing is for the first time Roy Jones, JR. became a fighter, a fighter gives and a fighter takes and that’s the nature of the game.

Tarver also gave Roy the gift of opportunity; with one punch he gave Roy something that no amount of rap songs, “mismandatories” or otherworldly reflexes could give him. Roy now has an open ticket to ride in first class seating to immortality, a chance to sit with Sugar Ray and Muhammad Ali and truly belong there. Tarver also gave Roy the ultimatum that he rightfully deserves to face at this stage in his career, do you fight for love? Or money? There’s no in between. Obviously, money is no object and the heavyweights are a mute topic, there’s only one fight for Roy and that fight is with Tarver. I only hope that if he takes the 3rd fight he does the right thing, the right thing is to allow a deserving Tarver to become a rich man.

Anatomy of the “Get back”

There’s an old black and white photograph of young Cassius Clay sitting with Angelo Dundee holding a book, examining the book with mock awe. Both men seem enthralled in the “photo op”, but the title of the book makes the picture almost legendary in it’s own prophetic way. The title of the book is “The Art of Psychological Warfare”, and the rest is boxing history. Ali was a master of “mind games” but more importantly a symbol of the power of manifestation. There are plenty of examples of the young Clay prophesizing his place in history at a very tender age, this in a sport where a lot of “cant misses” end up on skid row. Antonio Tarver’s whole obsession with Jones has been almost evangelical and his self-determination on par with some of Ali’s greatest mental campaigns. Roy must understand that he does not have the monopoly on mental toughness and realize that the first step to get back is acceptance. Acceptance is not surrender; it is the first step to change. Accept your role in this, accept that it was a good shot and speak candidly and often about this. Antonio is flourishing through Roy’s inability to give full credit, if Roy gives him the credit he deserves any verbal barbs afterwards would make Antonio appear void of class, something he is very sensitive to. Roy should steer clear from incredulous statements, no matter how angry he becomes because it wreaks of denial.

Roy should also reassume his duties at HBO as soon as possible and conduct himself as the insightful entertaining analyst he is. Make it clear to the boxing world (especially the detractors) that you are a man first and the business of Roy Jones (just like the business of Leonard and De La Hoya) will go on. Roy should also go on Friday Night Fights and co host. Have fun Roy! You deserve it. This will only illustrate to fans what we all should have known, that you are human. Antonio will be out of material; he has no script (and neither do writers) for a “human” Roy Jones. A lot of the venom of this recent backlash is derived from the image of narcissism, arrogance and inaccessibility. Build from the momentum of that Pensacola homecoming, get out there and see that the people still love Roy Jones. This will only give you the foundation necessary to approach the negotiation table with clarity and truth.

When negotiating the third fight, Roy should give Antonio what he wants and fight for a cause. Abandon all talk of who is the “draw” and deal from the heart. Common business sense suggest that the intrigue of seeing how you will respond after crushing defeat is the “show”, by dismissing this principal you send the message that this is a fight. Roy should give a portion to Gerald McClellan and a portion to the city of Pensacola, but make sure he leaves little for himself. This limits opportunities of Antonio and the media, and when asked why you conceded so much to your Florida rival answers, “ because he deserved it”. In the pre fight buildup smile, realize the opportunity before you and take joy in where your accomplishments have brought you. Be accessible, but be yourself, you don’t owe any of us a disingenuine Roy in an attempt to compete with Antonio’s charisma.

In the Ring

Unfortunately for those who believe Tarver has Roy’s number, it’s not true. Antonio landed a punch for the ages to go down with the Sugar Ray Robinson hook (on Gene Fulmer) and the Frazier hook that floored Ali in 71’. There’s a reason they call them “punch for the ages”, that is due to the impossibility that they will occur again. Frazier fought Ali two more times and never quite got that kind of shot again, and it isn’t like “Smokin” Joe wasn’t trying. The problem with Tarver winning so soon is that he never got an opportunity to really put any sustained punishment on Jones. Therefore Roy is still fresh, maybe older, maybe mortal, maybe defeated, but fresh. I don’t believe styles make fights, fighters make fights, and Antonio isn’t just a “tall southpaw” Antonio is a man of conviction. All Roy has to do is rebuild his attack as a mortal, employing a jab to get close and raking Tarver’s body. Roy should turn the tables of anatomy against Antonio and get in his chest; the taller man needs significantly more “airspace” to be effective. It may not look like the Jones we know and love, but it will be effective against a lanky Tarver.

This fight should be in Florida, at heavyweight, and it should be Roy’s last. There should only be three men to make that ring walk with Roy Jones. “Smoke” Gainer, “Coach Merc”, and Roy Jones, SR. No belts, no announcements of past belts, no record, just the announcement that “in this corner weighing in at 200 pounds is Roy Jones, JR., a man”.

Before you hit your keypad

Understand this, I am a son, a father, a brother, and hopefully (thanks “Bad” Brad) a writer, but I am unapologetically a Roy Jones “man”. I am completely prepared to deal with the fact that it is also vogue to trash those who predicted a Jones victory, but I warn any basher of the futility in targeting me. Remember that crazy barber on the avenue who still thinks Oscar Robertson is better than Michael Jordan? That’s me. Am I impressed with Tarver? Hell yes, I’ve grown to appreciate him and he’s good for the sport. I believe the two Floridians have ignited great polarity and passion in the sport, something we need more of. Part of being a man is standing on your square (being consistent in what you believe) and I’ve just never been a fair weather kind of guy. So before you hit “send” to call me an imbecile know the man you are dealing with.

I’m a Jones man
A Sugar Ray man (Leonard and Robinson)
A Bulls of the 90’s man
And even in the 80’s when Michael was large I was a Prince man.

Until the Next Jones (Roy that is)
The Boxing Junkie.

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