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Articles of 2005

Tarver-Jones III Fight Predictions

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HBO PPV goes all out with Tarver-Jones III. Roy Jones Jr. wants to set the record straight. He wants revenge for his kayo loss to Antonio Tarver in their second fight. Revenge may be sweet, but the sweet science can be bitter, as even casual fans are aware. But Jones was the man to beat forever. If anyone can beat the odds, it’s Roy Jones. Is there enough in Roy’s tank to befuddle the Magic Man? Or is it Tarver Time in Tampa? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.

I may not even watch the Roy Jones-Tarver fight. I'm afraid of what may happen to Jones. I was watching the promo for their fight the other day and Jones sounds like a guy who is going to take a severe beating, like Eric Harding when he fought Tarver the second time. Jones didn't sound over-confident, but he looked – and I'm basing this purely on an insignificant interview on HBO – like a shot fighter, mumbling how he's a warrior and this is what boxers are supposed to do. After watching Leavander Johnson's fight again on tape, I may skip this one and watch the Showtime card instead.
Mitch Abramson

I think Tarver knocks him out inside of five rounds. Jones is at a tremendous psychological disadvantage, facing someone who has already knocked him out. I think Tarver will box aggressively. I think he's a good puncher and I think he'll get to Jones and knock him out again.
“Irish” Bobby Cassidy

If the old Roy Jones is really back – both physically and mentally – Tarver will be in for a long night. If it's all still just a game to Jones, he won't survive six rounds. I'll be cheering for Tarver, a Tampa guy. But if I had to put money on it, I'd pick Jones. He wins by decision.
Rick Folstad

I've changed picks more times than I change my workout clothes in a seven-day week. I can make and defend arguments why Antonio Tarver will win and I can make and defend arguments why Roy Jones will win. I can also turn it around and explain why each cannot possibly win. I've made list after list of pros and cons for each. When it's all said and done, my lists show Tarver coming out victorious. Why then am I picking Jones? In two fights against Tarver, he's been life-and-death in one and starched in another. Then, he got starched again in his next outing. Blasted, then starched! Then, he took a long hiatus. Rust had to have formed on his already fading skills. Yet, I've seen Jones at his best. The last two times I saw him completely motivated were the nights he breezed past John Ruiz to capture the WBA heavyweight title and the night he smoked Montell Griffin. I know just how pumped he was that night against Griffin. I was the promoter for Jones-Griffin II at the Foxwoods Casino that night. Prior to the fight, Jones told me I could expect the outcome that he delivered. I see the fire in Jones' eyes again. I feel that for one more night, he'll put it all together for the victory, probably by decision. Hey, he's Roy Jones Jr. Ya'll must've forgot!
Randy Gordon

The late great Archie Moore referred to opponents that he just couldn't figure out as a “cousin.” A cousin is someone who has your number despite the fact that he may or may not prove as convincing against mutual opponents. For Moore, that man was Ezzard Charles. Despite meeting him on numerous occasions in the ring, Moore could never get past Charles – even though he would later achieve greatness and hold the light-heavyweight title for 10 years. Antonio Tarver has seemingly mastered the puzzle of Roy Jones. In their first meeting Jones never figured out Tarver and I think deep down he knows he lost the match. Of course there was no doubt in the rematch. Add to that, although he and Jones are the same age, there is little doubt that they are at very different places on their individual career paths. Jones may indeed be a spent fighter while Tarver may have a few big fights left in his tank. Of course the great thing about top fighters who are willing to put it all on the line is that we don't have to endlessly speculate.  Anticipate Jones to start fast and try to gain respect. He'll want to prove he has truly committed himself to the task at hand and prove that it's all been just a big set of flukes that led to his recent knockout losses. Tarver will once again take his deliberate southpaw approach and befuddle Jones. Roy Jones has proven his greatness over an extended period but he has met the one man that he just can't figure out. Tarver by KO in 10.
JE Grant

Antonio Tarver is the same age as Roy Jones but has been fighting for half the time Jones has and also has had half as many fights. At the age they are, that translates to more of an edge in being fresh for Tarver than it does to Jones having the nod in experience. Jones has been off for a year, hasn't taken a tune-up fight, and has been stopped in his past two fights (by both Tarver and Glen Johnson). I think the move up to heavyweight has damaged Jones for good because he did it so late in his career; his body just isn't what it was before the move up. Tarver hits hard enough and is technically a sound fighter, one good enough to beat Jones for a second time on this night. Not concerned about Tarver taking Jones lightly, no way, they don't like each other.
Joey Knish

What does Roy Jones have left? My mind says nothing, my heart says something – at least enough to defy the odds one last time and (somewhat) restore his tarnished legacy. Jones hunts and pecks his way to a split decision victory.
Zachary Levin

I've never been one impressed with Antonio Tarver and his fighting style. Something about it rubs me the wrong way. For some reason I'm of the feeling Roy Jones is training his ass off and is going to be ready. Do I think he's the Roy Jones of old? No way. But neither is Tarver. And I see Jones sticking and moving his way to a close, probably boring decision.
Scott Mallon

Tarver arguably beat Jones two times already. There's no reason to believe he won't do it a third time. Tarver TKO 8.
Robert Mladinich

Save your $50. Give it to a hurricane disaster fund. Buy a new bowling T-shirt for your wife. Go to a saloon. (That’s two “o’s.”)  Pay $50 to watch Roy Jones play tarpaper shack in a Cat 5 hurricane? You’ve got to be kidding me. The guy was boring when he could fight. Sorry, when he could box. He never fought, not in any real sense of the word. That china chin of his was the best-kept secret in sports. He did not just avoid honest combat, he ran from it. He was the fastest and the most skilled, but on any given day, 1000 other guys in leather mittens and short pants ranked far ahead of him as the bravest. His last two fights ended with him on his back, looking up, wondering where his legs had gone.  With cable television paying him millions to fight tomato cans, he took his show to Portland, Oregon and Biloxi, Mississippi and Mashantucket, Connecticut. He fought people Lou Del Valie and Reggie Johnson and David Telesco. He won by scores of 118-9, 119-109 and 118-109; and 120-106, 120-106 and 120-106; and 120-108, 120-106 and 120-108. He gave new meaning to the phrase brilliantly boring. So, if you want to blow fifty bucks to see Jones’ chin go three-for-three, be my guest. Or, you can flip to the other big cable channel and watch James Toney take the measure of somnambulist Dominick Guinn, followed by Chris Byrd winning a six-day dance marathon over a dangerous but frustrated DaVarryl Williamson.
Pat Putnam

Tarver showed what champions are made of in his return with Johnson. Armed with that confidence – the chance to secure his legacy and make Jones eat crow, he should be a coiled spring at the bell. His ring walk should be “All jacked up!” Jones, in seclusion, has one image fueling him: jumping to the top rope, punching the sky, “Y’all must’ve forgot! So, it comes down to a superbly conditioned, motivated Tarver against a rededicated Jones at his best. At his best, he’s better than Tarver – more gifted – more fluid – more ring savvy – more spontaneous. But is it worth a hill-of-beans when Tarver “brings it”? (An understatement.) Fresh with the memory of cold-cocking Jones, Tarver’s itching to prove the left wasn’t Haley’s Comet. For the first time since James Toney, it’s personal with Jones – a man’s humbled him in the ring and rubbed his nose in it.  He doesn’t want to win; he wants a pound-of-flesh. Between both these guys, if you could bottle pride, you’d have something to rival cold fusion. I think Jones is going to surprise the doubters and stuff the haters. He’ll reach down and find the brilliance that made him the unquestioned marvel of the sport. Tarver will do more, but Jones will do more effectively and win a UD.
Joe Rein

Roy Jones, Jr. keeps making excuses about his back-to-back knockout losses. He says this time will be different and the old Jones, Jr. will return. Despite the fact that his father has rejoined him in his corner and he's worked harder than ever to prepare for this fight, I don't see the young Roy ever returning. Tarver is a southpaw who's bigger, sharper, and punches harder than Jones, Jr. Tarver may not catch Jones, Jr. as quickly as he did in their last fight, but catch him he will. I like Tarver by KO in Round 5.
Benn Schulberg

Antonio Tarver has had 24 tough rounds with Glen Johnson since knocking out Jones. Jones has had no rounds since suffering his second straight knockout, by Johnson. Could Jones possibly be fighting to just last the distance so that his career does not end on consecutive knockouts? Tarver by decision?
Ed Schuyler

Roy Jones is not a shot fighter. He is simply a humbled one. This Saturday, he will enter the ring more prepared and focused than he has been in years. The fight will feature a lot of pressure on both sides, but in the end Jones will have prevailed. This time, there will be no controversy. Jones by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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