(AP)-- Antonio Tarver likes to talk about walking through the grocery store and having people congratulate him on being the fighter who finally gave
Roy Jones Jr. a whipping.
In Tarver's mind, that's exactly what happened last November when he and Jones fought for the light heavyweight title.
"I took the man's heart," Tarver said.
Unfortunately for Tarver, the judges didn't see it that way, allowing Jones to escape the toughest fight of his career with a majority decision that
made him the light heavyweight champion once again.
The crowd that firmly planted itself in Tarver's corner when he dominated the early rounds didn't like it, and they loudly let it be known. Tarver
didn't like it either, and is still angry months later.
"I think the judges were so in awe of what they were seeing that they couldn't believe it themselves," Tarver said. "I think he got a lot of credit
just for being Roy Jones Jr."
Tarver hopes to get that credit himself Saturday night when the two meet in a rematch that will answer these questions:
_ Was Jones worn out by having to lose so much weight after fighting as a heavyweight, as he claimed?
_ Or did Tarver simply expose him as an aging fighter whose once vaunted ring skills are beginning to diminish?
Tarver thinks he knows the answer.
"He never lost a round until meeting Antonio Tarver," Tarver said. "Now they want to know if he is over the hill. Throw all the excuses out the
window. I hope he comes ready."
Tarver will try to reclaim the WBC 175-pound title in the fight at Mandalay Bay hotel-casino, but there is a lot more at stake for both fighters than
a gaudy green belt.
Tarver believes he is the legitimate successor to Jones, and a fighter who should be respected for what he did in the first fight. Jones, meanwhile,
may be a step slower at the age of 35, but wants to prove his performance was a fluke and that he still has a fight or two left before finally hanging
his gloves up.
And yes, he's more than a little tired of hearing Tarver talk.
"Why I'm doing this is because my fans want me to shut this boy's mouth," Jones said. "I don't really want to kill him or nothing like that. I just
want to show him that when I'm on my day you can't beat me at all. He couldn't beat me when I wasn't on my day and he definitely can't beat me when I
am on my day."
Oddsmakers agree with Jones, making him a 4-1 favorite in a fight he seems to be taking personally. The last time that happened, Jones avenged his
only loss by knocking out Montell Griffin in the first round.
"This time I got myself back together. I'm Roy again," Jones said. "He wasn't going to beat Roy Jones the first time when he was lackluster. Now I'm
right; you're so bad, beat me."
Jones, who has not always promoted his fights the way others would like, has been more agreeable this time, perhaps sensing he is nearing the end. On
Thursday he appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," which was taping at the Paris Las Vegas resort.
Tarver is happy Jones is cooperating, because he'll be making $2 million for the rematch. And he says he will finish the job he began in November,
where he lost the late rounds and often wasn't aggressive enough to get the judges to give him points.
"It's going to be more of the same with a whole lot more pain," Tarver said. "What's going to happen is when I am in his face laying it to him in
Rounds 6 and 7, this will not go 12. I am coming to get Roy Jones out of there."
Those are boastful words for a fighter going up against arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport. Jones is 49-1 in 50 fights, with his
only loss coming on a fluke disqualification.
But Tarver gave Jones everything he could take and more in their first fight before Jones came on in the final two rounds to pull out the win.
"I know I can beat Roy Jones., He's not quite sure if he can beat me," Tarver said. "It's psychological warfare. When I come out stronger, quicker,
more determined he won't have a clue for that. His bag of tricks will be emptied."
Tarver (21-2, 17 knockouts) had been in only one title fight before meeting Jones, winning the light heavyweight crown Jones vacated when he moved up
in weight to fight John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title. But even though he was less experienced, Tarver controlled the action for big parts of the
Jones said after the fight that having to lose 25 pounds to make the 175-pound limit drained him. Jones reportedly had to lose 12 pounds in the four
days before the fight to make the limit.
Tarver said there will be no excuses this time.
"For us to revisit the crime scene, it's going to be a beautiful thing," Tarver said. "I will leave no questions."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.