By Scotti Vandevender – Fightnews.com
The brand new FedExForum in Memphis, TN opened its arms to its inaugural sporting event in grand fashion here last night. A crowd of almost 14,000 packed into the impressive new arena.
Roy Jones (49-3, 38 KOs) stated all along he intended to bring a show to Memphis to regain his title against IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Glengoffe Johnson (41-9-2, 28 KOs). He excited the Memphis community with his promises of entertainment and did not disappoint. Only the end proved much different than the crowd or he anticipated.
As the music boomed and Jones started his slow prance into the ring behind a rapper from his own personal label, the crowd erupted. He entered the ring as smoke and pyrotechnics blasted the air. While it may have seemed Jones had already started ahead in this fight, Johnson already had surprises for Mr. Jones.
Johnson provided Jones and everyone in attendance with the first surprise as famous rapper Ice-T led him into the ring. Like foreshadowing in a fiction novel, the hint of what lay ahead loomed over the crowd as they began to realize Johnson came here to entertain as well.
As round one opened, Johnson charged Roy, sending him into retreat mode against the ropes, hands held high around his ears. Johnson easily took the round with relentless pursuit, landing several shots to Jones’ skull. Where was the Jones of old, the escape artist that never seemed to get hit? Where was the man that Vinny Pazienza did not even hit once in a round during their bout.
Johnson ensured that man never showed up. Even as Jones flurried in rounds two and three, including a big left hook and barrage of body shots, Johnson absorbed them and continued forward.
While Jones continued the rope-a-dope act ala Muhamed Ali, Johnson took advantage of every opportunity. Entering the ninth round Johnson led on all scorecards (Fightnews had it scored 77-75) and Jones was in dire need of digging deep to try and extra victory from the beating he was receiving.
But, Johnson had other plans. “I looked for him with the left hook. I waited and got no response so I hit him again (with the right). What can I say? I threw the right hand, it hit him on the chin, and that’s it,” Johnson relayed after the fight.
As Jones fell limp to the canvas, out cold before his head ever hit the canvas, the end of an era sounded with a thud on the canvas like a bell rung in a silent night. The crowd stilled and quiet, watched as Jones lay motionless on the canvas unable to move. The time of the knockout was: 48 seconds into the ninth round.
“ Nobody knows I have a knockout punch because nobody sees me fight,” explained IBF light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson after his stunning ninth round knockout of Roy Jones, Jr. on Saturday at the FedExForum in Memphis, TN. “I fight overseas a lot. I’m always a road warrior. It doesn’t matter if I get the respect or not, let’s just get in the ring. I stay focused and do what I have to do.”
The absence of Jones at the post-fight conference, who was transported to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis for testing and observation after suffering a concussion due to the knockout, did not put a damper on the celebration of Johnson and his team.
The triumphant Johnson said to the fans and press in the room, “It’s a great night for me! I just wanted to make a statement that I’m a real fighter. I don’t try to look cute. I just wanted to get the job done. I felt that if the knockout came that’s great, but I did not care. I just wanted to win.”
Johnson proved his durability and worth in the ring and thanked the city of Memphis for welcoming him with such open arms. “I will fight in Memphis any time,” he proclaimed.
” I beat him at his own game,” observed Johnson, a native of Clarendon, Jamaica who fights out Miami. “A lot of guys try to fight Roy from the outside, but I wanted to stay in on him.”
Johnson proclaimed, “I’ll fight anybody. I’m not the best but I’ll fight anybody. I have had a tough career. I came through the back door. I am not one to say I am always the best. I’m the guy willing to fight the self-proclaimed best.”
Johnson was asked about a showdown with middleweight king Bernard Hopkins at 168 pounds, to which he responded, “It’s up to my management but if my body can do it, I will.” This scenario seems highly unlikely anytime soon since Hopkins has stated that he wishes to make twenty defenses of his middleweight crown before considering moving up in weight.
WBC / WBA champion Antonio Tarver was invited to the podium by promoter Dan Goossen as Johnson concluded his speech to press.
” I hope Roy retires,” bluntly stated Tarver. “He needs to stay home and take care of himself. I give him (Jones) all the credit in the world but I don’t want him to get hurt. I want to see Roy enjoy his life after boxing (and) ride off into the sunset.”
In November 2003, Jones moved back down to the 175-pound division after his historic capture of the WBA heavyweight crown and regained the light heavyweight title from Antonio Tarver in the first of their two fights. Subsequently, Tarver knocked out Jones in the second round of their rematch in May.
Tarver wasted no time in challenging Johnson: “I feel like he has something of mine. We have to sell tickets Glenn. You have one of my belts. Come on HBO, let’s get it on.”
Alton Merkerson, the long-time trainer of Jones, stated to the press the knockout could signal the end of his career. “That’s something he and I are going to have to talk about,” Merkerson said. “He’s getting hit now more than he used to get hit.”
While a unification bout with Tarver may also lie ahead, Johnson can rest assured Saturday night he was the best in the world. Tarver contends the belt is rightfully his, that he voluntarily gave it up. But for now it resides firmly around the waist of the man who left Memphis and the rest of the world “All Shook Up.”
The total attendance on Saturday at the FedExForum was 13, 047. The promoters were Square Ring, Inc. and Goossen Tutor Promotions, in association with Prize Fight Boxing and Grand Casinos Tunica.