On October 1, 2005, Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver meet for the third matchup in their trilogy which took place at St. Pete Times Forum (now Amalie Arena) in Tampa, Florida.
A packed house of 20,895 saw the IBO Light heavyweight title on the line as two big names in Florida boxing battle which was aired on HBO pay-per-view. That was the only titles on the line for the matchup as Tarver at the time who held the WBA, and WBC titles decided to vacate those belts to face Jones for the third time instead of taking on mandatory challenger, Paul Briggs.
Tarver and Jones had met each other twice in the previous two years. The first match took place on November 8, 2003, with Jones returning to the light heavyweight division after winning the WBA heavyweight title in his previous bout. Jones was able to narrowly defeat Tarver by majority decision to recapture the WBC light heavyweight title (which Tarver had won earlier in the year after Jones vacated it following his heavyweight title victory) and the vacant WBA super light heavyweight title and retain the IBO and The Ring light heavyweight titles that he still held. The two fighters would have a rematch the following year on May 15, 2004. This time, Tarver would pick up the victory by second-round knockout, becoming the first person to knock out Jones in his professional career.
The third contest was labeled “No Excuses,” which came about from Tarver to Jones in the ring after the referees’ instructions before the second fight. The referee asked both fighters, as a customary procedure, if they had any questions, and Tarver asserted: “Yeah, I got a question. You got any excuses tonight, Roy?”
Once the bell rang, this fight relayed a tale more along the lines of the second fight with Tarver being more f the aggressor for the majority of the battle. This gameplan would be a riding theme as Tarver was able to land more shots as he was the more active fighter. The packed arena in attendance (me included) noticed this as by the second half of the fight Jones became inactive. Chants of “Tarver! Tarver!” broke out in spurts throughout the match but clearly heard for the Tampa native in the latter rounds.
Tarver landed 158 of 620 punches (25%) and Jones connected on 85 of 320 (27%). After twelve rounds of this contest, Tarver had won easily on all three judges scorecards 117-11 and the other two 116-112.
The fighters earned more than $4 million apiece plus a share of pay-per-view revenues on a pay-per-view received 440,000 buys.
Tarver said 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. You all thought I would be one-punch happy but I passed my test. I did my homework. I took nothing for granted. I wasn’t assured of victory until they raised my hand.”
Check out below this bout which was an impressive display by the Magic Man.