Tarver Bests Johnson In Rematch; Quartey Returns

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 19, 2005


Antonio Tarver and Ike Quartey

NEW YORK — One of the most vital signs of a great fighter is how well they rebound from a loss. Antonio Tarver has three losses during his professional career and he has avenged all three – two by knockout! Tarver (23-3, 18 KOs) avenged a loss to Glen Johnson (42-10-2, 28 KOs) by winning a unanimous 12-round decision on Saturday at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis.

Tarver was more aggressive and did not fight Johnson against the ropes as he did in the first bout. Tarver, a former two-time light heavyweight champion and Olympic Bronze medal winner in the 1996 Olympics, outworked Johnson throughout to set up a possible third fight against Roy Jones, Jr. or even Johnson again.

Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson are recognized for being the only fighters to have knocked out Jones. Tarver, who lost the WBC 175-pound title to Jones in December 2003, knocked Jones out with one-punch in the second round of their April 2004 rematch. In attempt to reconstruct his career, Jones was KO’d in the ninth round against Johnson last September.

It was inevitable that Tarver would fight Johnson in a bout to determine who would become the 2004 Fighter of the Year. Johnson, the slicker boxer and better puncher defeated Tarver, via 12-round spilt decision.

In the rematch, Tarver outworked Johnson and did a better job of pressing Johnson against the ropes, clinching, and keeping his opponent in the middle of the ring. Tarver appeared to be more energetic than he was during the first fight, as his punches were sharper and he was more willing to exchange with Johnson. Johnson rallied in the ladder rounds of a very exciting fight that had the 12,000-plus in attendance on their feet. Johnson became more aggressive in the ladder rounds, as Tarver began to tire in round 11. Tarver withstood Johnson’s rally, with sharp counterpunching and good clinching. Tarver landed 218 to Johnson’s 149 punches to win by margins of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113.

“He’s a pit bull, Tarver said of Johnson. “I sat in there and I had to tame him tonight.”

Tarver, although he does not have world title, has to be considered among the top light heavyweight’s in boxing. Although a third fight against Jones would be an attractive encounter, the most ideal fight for Tarver would be a third and perhaps final fight against Johnson.

“Two great fights like that, it’s inevitable,” Tarver said. “We’ve got to do it again for the fans and for the money. We deserve it.”

Johnson agreed: “If HBO loved the fight and wants us back, I am ready and willing.”

It is unclear as to whether Jones will fight Tarver or anyone else. Until Jones, the first former middleweight champion since Bob Fitzsimmons to win apiece of the heavyweight title, decides when or if he wants to fight again, a third fight between Tarver and Johnson will due.

Quartey Victorious

Former WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey (35-2-1, 30 KOs) continued his comeback with a unanimous 10-round decision against Verno Phillips (38-9-1, 20 KOs), a top 10 junior middleweight contender.

Quartey was once recognized for his powerful left jab and knockout right-handed power is perhaps best -known for his 12-round bout against Oscar De La Hoya in 1999. Quartey Quartey floored De La Hoya early in the bout with a hard left hook and controlled the tempo of the bout behind his left jab. De La Hoya rallied to score two knockdowns that included a spectacular flurry that nearly stopped Quartey, who lost a 12-round decision.

Quartey was a very dangerous fighter. He was still undefeated after he defended the WBA welterweight (147) title seven times during (1995-99). Quartey took a 16-month layoff and was stripped of the WBA title prior to fighting De La Hoya for his WBC crown. Following consecutive losses to De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas (2000) in the two most important fights of his career, Quartey became frustrated. He quit his boxing career without proving that he could return to the top of the mountain. It was as though he mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth.

It was not until he signed with boxing promoter and former Senior-Vice President of HBO Sports Lou DiBella under his DiBella Entertainment banner when Quartey decided to return to the fight game after a five-year layoff (2000-2005) since his loss to Vargas. Quartey won an eighth-round TKO victory against Clint McNeil at the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Accra, Ghana.

In his prime, Quartey was famous for doubling and tripling his left jabs early in fights. Against Phillips, Quartey was a one-punch fighter and did not throw powerful jabs until round three. He appeared to get stronger until Phillips dropped Quartey with a huge left hook to his chin.

All three judges still scored the fight 95-94 (twice), and 96-93 for Quartey, who threw more (321-275) and landed more (107-92) than Phillips.

At 35, Quartey proved he still can fight on a top level. He had a very good career going until he simply stopped fighting. His fight against Vargas was a great fight and warranted a rematch. His loss to De La Hoya was disputed by many who felt Quartey should have won the decision, although he was knocked down early in the final round and was nearly KO’d through the ropes. De La Hoya plans on fighting again in the Fall, but it is unclear as to who he will take on as an opponent and at what weight class (either 154 or 147).

There is also the winner of the Undisputed World Middleweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and No.1 contender Jermain Taylor on July 16. Winky Wright, who just defeated Felix Trinidad, is available. A rematch with Vargas could be for the WBC junior middleweight championship if he can surpass the challenge of a game, but limited Javier Francisco Castillejo in July.