The Executioner’s Last Meal

MIAMI- Serious talks have commenced between Golden Boy Promotions, (Bernard Hopkins) and Roy Jones Jr. that could lead to a rematch of the 1993 showdown between two of the best boxer’s to ever lace up. In the 1993 matchup Roy Jones Jr. went on to win by decision, leaving few doubts that he was well on his way to becoming boxings “P4P” star, and for a while he was, but emerging from his shadow and soon after completely taking it over was none other than the man who he stands to do battle with once again, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. Since the first matchup when you revisit the history of the two fighters, RJJ was nearly untouchable until he entered the Light Heavyweight division. ‘Rise and Fall of Roy Jones Jr.’ For the longest time he seemed untouchable, even going up to the Heavyweight division and utterly destroying John Ruiz to capture the title in a feat that had not been accomplished in boxing; But after climbing the ‘highest mountain’, rather than retiring on top and enjoying the view, he decided to stay in the game and quench his thirst of ‘ultimate supremacy’, and in a strange twist of fate, the man who once seemed supernatural, suddenly became human. Enter Antoino Tarver (24W-4L, 18Ko’s) a native of Tampa, Florida. A talented boxer who had a storied history in the amatuers with RJJ and in the words of many boxing insider’s, his sole purpose in life was to defeat RJJ after watching Roy’s ‘star’ rise in the olympics and feeling inside like he was better based on the early amatuer meetings between the two. In the first matchup, Roy won a slugfest that was widely contested in the eyes of nearly every fan to watch. The second matchup, however, would not be as close as RJJ was taunted from the moment the two got in the ring, (One of the most famous boxing one-liner’s to date: “Got any excuses tonight Roy?)”, until mid 2nd round when a flush shot to the chin ended Roy’s night at the surprise of the boxing world. Roy would try to settle the score by waging war with Tarver again, losing a decision, and later also fell victim to journeyman Glen Johnson (44W-11L, 29Ko’s) who also knocked RJJ out. To most this was yet another story of a famed boxer falling victim to father time. Or was it? ‘B-Hop’s Rise and Temporary Stall’ To his opposite was a man who decided to take what amounted to a much more ‘scenic’ route, but in the end, payed far greater dividends…Bernard Hopkins. He did drop his decision to RJJ back in ’93, but his best boxing days were truly ahead of him as he would go the next10 years without tasting defeat again. That tenure was filled with it’s share of ‘cupcakes’, but to his credit, his last ten fights in particular boast the best stars in his division, which says alot about a man on the north side of age 40. He soundly destroyed a young and hungry stallion in Tito Trinidad, he defeated boxing’s famed ‘Goldenboy’ Oscar De La Hoya with a nasty body shot, and although he lost two questionable fights at the hands of ‘up and comer’ Jermaine Taylor, he since went on to utterly dissect the same Antonio Tarver who Roy Jones Jr. first tasted bitter defeat against. His two losses against Jermaine Taylor was nothing other than a slight blemish on his record considering they were sandwiched in between boxing supremacy, (consecutive title defense record of 20+ victories), and a feat seldom achieved in boxing where he went from the Middleweight division to Light Heavyweight and defeated Tarver for the division strap. His greatness was never questioned but for a moment his rise was stalled. ‘Different Paths, Same Goal’ After all the blood, sweat and tears that it took to get here for both fighters and the vastly different roads to do so, never-the-less, here soon the two fighters may indeed become one; As in paired together one more time to settle a score they started over a decade ago. Bernard is considered by far to be the better of the two boxers in today’s world because he’s done his damage more recent in a sport that truly invites the question “What have you done for me lately”; But RJJ if anyone, is primed to do the impossible and stands a fairly good chance at doing so for these reasons: First and foremost, of all the boxers, (no matter how great), that Hopkins has defeated in his reign, none possessed on their best day the skill or speed of RJJ; (And the one who did come close in physical attributes walked away twice with the “W”). Second, Psychologically, this is the last man to defeat Hopkins to the point where there was technically no question or doubts. Third, Roy knows a victory here raises him back to P4P contention, cements his legacy, as well as reintroduces him to the mega-fight realm. Granted, Roy fell to the man, (Tarver), who lost to the man, (Hopkins), but styles make fights and this could be the reason Roy is able to pull it off. Tarver was a crafty southpaw with range, style and swagger. Hopkins is conventional and rugged. Hopkins packed enough punch to slow down Tarver, but Roy won’t be the standing target that Tarver was. Hopkins is known to come out of the gates slowly before eventually stealing later rounds, but RJJ’s conditioning has never been questioned, it was his chin, therefore without Hopkins coming straight forward for all 12 rounds, I find it hard to believe he can win on points. And for all that Hardcore Hopkin fans out there, (myself included), who says that he’ll come straight forward and not wait for the later rounds like he did against Tarver, what happens when he spends most of the night missing and begins to reflect his age? All of a sudden we’re on the brink of what most view as an upset. ‘A Pick ’em Fight’ This is truly a fight that could go either way. I see no clear edge for either man, and once it all comes down to it, it’ll be a matchup for the ages. If Roy wins, some will point at Hopkins’ age…If Hopkins wins, most will point at Roy’s last few losses and say he’s shot. At the end of the day, both men simply ran into opponents who had their ‘numbers’, and if we get into numerics, it’s safe to say Roy might have Bernard’s. Hopefully this fight can be made to remove all doubt’s, questions, and possibilities…replacing them with absolute truth.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.