Tarver Beats Jones In Rubber Match

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 3, 2005

NEW YORK — Roy Jones, Jr. was the best fighter in the world for more than a decade. Jones’s skills were unmatched. He was lightning fast. His reflexes were unlike any other fighter. No one could beat Jones. However, after three consecutive losses in nearly two years, the time has come for Jones to hang up his gloves.

Fighting in the first trilogy of his career, Jones (49-4, 38 KOs) dropped a 12-round unanimous decision in a rubber match to the first man to have convincingly beaten him, Antonio Tarver (24-3, 18 KOs) in front of nearly 21,000 fans at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL.

“I got hurt once and I think that was the turning point of the fight. He hit me with a good shot. But I kept coming

”I was satisfied with my performance, but I do realize that I lost the fight,” Jones said. “I’m not the kind of fighter, like Johnson that can brawl. And that’s the way you have to fight to beat Tarver. Tarver would have given me all I could handle in my best days as a light heavyweight.”

From 1994-2003, Jones was the absolute best winning world championships as a middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and even became first middleweight in more than 100 years to win a heavyweight title when he beat John Ruiz in March 2003.

However, Jones was criticized for his awkward selection of opponents, who were often classified as “unworthy” and “human punching bags.” Many of them were mandatory challengers of the sanctioning bodies he held championships for – WBA, WBC, IBF, IBA, IBO…

It appeared as through Jones would retire with a legacy of being one of the few fighters to have gone unmatched during their era. Jones even challenged Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield to a heavyweight title match.

Jones went from being Superman to human when he returned to 175 from 200 to challenge Tarver for his WBC/IBF light heavyweight titles in December 2003.

Jones beat Tarver in an unexpectedly close, majority decision. In a highly anticipated rematch in 2004, Tarver asked Jones “any excuses tonight, Roy?” before knocking out the champion in the second round.

Jones also suffered a ninth-round knockout loss to former IBF heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson in September 2004.

In the rubber match, Jones, worked with his father Roy Jones, Sr. as a co-trainer to Alton Merkerson, Jones’ amateur boxing coach and professional trainer, hoping to regain the form that enabled Jones to dominate his opponents since turning professional more than 16 years ago.

Jones showed flashes of his old self, but he appeared flat-footed, often tired, and absorbed many of Tarver’s blows. In fact, Tarver threw more punches (620-320) and landed more (158-85). Tarver simply outworked Jones, who wanted to keep his distance. Tarver hurt Jones a several occasions, but did not have enough in his tank to finish the former faded champion.

Tarver, instead, coasted to a decision victory. The three judges scored the bout 117-111 and 116-112 (twice).

“Give a man credit where credit is due,” Tarver boasted after the fight. “He was beat by a better fighter, period! I am one of the best fighters in the world. Give me my credit!”

Interesting Facts

James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, Clinton Woods, Eric Lucas, Julio Gonzalez, Virgil Hill, and John Ruiz went on to win world championships after they all lost to Jones during his championship peak.

Jones pitched a near shutout when he beat Toney in November 1994. Toney went on to win world championships in three different weight classes before fighting Ruiz, the first two-time Latino heavyweight champion, for the WBA heavyweight crown in April this year.

Hopkins, who lost to Jones in May 1993, lost only one fight in the last 12 years. Hopkins made 20 successful defenses of the IBF middleweight championship, knocking out Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad before losing his titles to Jermain Taylor in July.

Hill, a dominant light heavyweight champion (1987-1997), was knocked out by a Jones in April 1998 on a clean and crisp body shot in the fourth round. Hill would win a cruiserweight championship less than two years later; Hill resurrected his career with a three-knockdown, first-round KO of Fabrice Tiozzo.