After a spectacular run as both Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion, as his career descended, Roy Jones Jr. (as is frequently the case) became less and less of the spectacular almost un-hittable and unstoppable fighter that he had been. And 16 years ago Friday night, he was stopped…. with one bomb punch.
The night was May 15th, 2004 in Las Vegas has Jones defended his Unified Light Heavyweight titles put the second time against fellow Floridian, Antonio Tarver.
Tarver had been a former U.S. Olympian, just like Jones, and had risen into the ranks of Light Heavyweight contention with a 21-1 record record. That’s when he and Jones tangled for the first time in November of 2003.
Jones, 49-1 the night of their first fight, put forth a less-than-stellar performance. And, at times, he looked very fatigued as Tarver hit him more than most fighters ever had in his career. Eventually, Jones eeeked out a majority 12-round decision to retain its belts. But, he lost badly in the court of boxing fan opinion on whether he deserved the decision out right
Jones blamed having to cut weight down from Heavyweight in his previous fight to the 175 lb. limit for fatiguing him, but the public wasn’t buying it, and wanted to see a rematch.
And, that next fight had one of the famous one liner verbal exchanges in a pre-fight instruction session in modern boxing history.
As the fighters stood in front of each other just before the first bell, referee Jay Nady asked them if they had any questions? Tarver immediately said in full voice for all to hear on the PA audio “You got any excuses tonight, Roy?”
And a short time later, Tarver backed it all up with a thunderous straight left hand.
Relive the brief action and the spectacular knockout, as it aired on HBO Pay-per-view that night with the legendary voices of Jim Lampley, the late Emmanuel Steward and Larry Merchant:
The stunning win by Tarver launched him into worldwide boxing fame and as we wrote previously, he validated the KO of Jones with a dominant performance in the third fight in October of that same year scoring an impressive 12-round decision, himself.
We mentioned Jones declined and sadly, he went on to lose six more times in his next 11 fights, including three more times by knockout, finishing with a career record of 66-9.
As for Tarver he went on to some success but also lost to Glen Johnson, Bernard Hopkins and twice to Chad Dawson. However, besides the Jones knockout, he’s most known for having starred in 2006 as “the loudmouth boxing villain” opposite Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky Balboa,” as Mason “the line,” Dixon.
Tarver retired in 2015 with a 31-6-1 record and with the Jones KO, for obvious reasons, being the most memorable moment of his career.