Still keeping up with the Jones’s?
By Martin Wade (September 23, 2004) 
Roy Jones Jr.
Last Saturday night I like every other boxing fan was caught up in the world wind of Bernard Hopkins decisive victory over Oscar De La Hoya. I went about my quest for post fight coverage searching for anything, any angle, and any molehill that I can elevate to mountain status. While watching ESPN News I discovered boxing analyst Pedro Fernandez mediating an interview between Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins. Now this should be good, I thought, because these two guys have had their share of eh hem “words” throughout the year. What transpired was congenial, professional (listening James Toney?) and also fueled my penchant for latching on to conspiracy theories.

After describing how the 9th round knockout came about and extending kudos to De La Hoya, Tarver stepped in to commence a line of questioning with his usual poise and insight. Fernandez as expected took advantage of the presence of Tarver and questioned Hopkins about possibly moving up to light heavyweight to take on Tarver. Hopkins, in response went into a clichéd spiel about boxing being in “ICU” with Tarver and he being the kind of fighters that can save it. Then Bernard laughingly made it clear that though he and Antonio did not have Latin surnames that HBO would have to pay them handsomely for the fight. Tarver wholeheartedly agreed and practically buried any hatchet he may have had with Bernard for the sake of commerce. The sly old fox then started to empathize with Tarver saying that “we” have been in the background for so long. We? What am I missing here?

From my vantage point, the guy in the black suit is a compulsive spendthrift who received his first big payday three years ago. The guy in the gray suit, though charismatic and possessing an electrifying one punch KO over 'Superman' just filed for bankruptcy. Also the guy in the black suit has more options – all of them more lucrative and less dangerous – in Mayorga, Trinidad and yes even Roy Jones. The guy in the gray suit can't seem to get more than parity from Jones and little respect from the promoter of a European super middleweight coming up in weight. The guy in the black suit has now entered a different stratosphere and with legacy (and bank account) intact has no reason to be an active fighter by this time next year. In short, the guy in the gray suit should not trust the guy in the black suit.

Seeing them standing there together you sensed the division. Bernard Hopkins is now a blueblood and Tarver is light years away from such distinction. Bernard’s body language towards Tarver was that of the nerd who pulls up in the jaguar at the high school reunion – I’ve arrived suckers. Tarver looked hungry, eager like a man whose act is starting to wear thin. Bernard Hopkins looked like a man in control of the fistic panorama, a man capable of collusion. Seeing Hopkins 'snow' Tarver on TV reminded me of something my mamma used to say: “baby, money will make us all act funny.” Enter Roy Jones Jr.

Roy Jones has been described as many things and stubborn is one of them. His fight with Glengoffe Johnson is not out of any fear of Tarver, it’s an attempt to force Tarver to accept financial parity. Roy makes an excellent point in saying that parity against him is more than any other payday Tarver can earn and the proud Orlando native should listen. Tarver should not consider Hopkins an option – nor an ally – and be wary of the stubbornness of Roy Jones. Hopkins even slipped and made a comment to Larry Merchant post fight about meeting Jones at 168. In sports, as in life, sometimes rivals unite for a common cause, someone they want to hurt more than each other. Both Jones and Hopkins see one another as easier and more lucrative opponents than the Magic Man. As fans sometimes we overestimate our powers, because I am not convinced that Roy gives a damn if we think Tarver is his master.

By this time next week Roy Jones will have a major sanctioning body strap around his waist and a reason to be as stubborn as ever. Johnson, though rugged, fits the psychological mold of past Jones victims: respectful, humble and grateful. This will make it easy for Roy to be Roy and do what he does best, 'perform'. The post fight interview will be one of the most anticipated in recent years and Roy will say all the right things. He will say he wants Tarver but it will be Hopkins on his speed dial. I know it sounds suspicious, but Roy won't be the first boxer to hit a rival in the wallet. Archie Moore wisely chose to stalk Marciano after promising Ray Robinson a fight over dinner with the wives! Aaron Pryor is still waiting on that call from Sugar Ray Leonard. Rich fighters fight hungry fighters when the hell they want to and on their own terms despite the circumstances. Unfortunately for Tarver, his big fight future is still up in the air and despite his pound-for-pound status he’s still trying to keep up with the Jones’s.

Until The Next 'Jones'
The 'Boxing Junkie'.
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