MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver were on stage together, joking about a unification fight for the light heavyweight title.
As for Roy Jones Jr., considered by some the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, he was in the back of an ambulance headed to the hospital.
Johnson had just given Jones the beating of his life, landing an overhand right and short left to put in doubt the future of one of the sport's
Johnson, the underdog despite being the champion, kept his IBF crown by knocking Jones cold in the ninth round of a scheduled 12-rounder Saturday
night at FedExForum, the new $250 million home of the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I was never hurt," said Johnson, a Jamaican living in Miami. "I was working to find what I needed. I keep working the body. I keep chopping him down
one point at a time until I find the right punch."
Now, Johnson and Tarver, who took the WBC title from Jones - after Jones had taken it from him - are talking about a fight of their own.
Johnson, 41-9-2 with 28 knockouts, said he is ready to fight anybody, including Tarver. But Tarver, who jumped in on Johnson's post-fight news
conference, said Johnson holds a title he once owned and wants back.
"We've got to sell tickets, brother," Tarver said with a loud laugh. "You got to talk it up, baby. You can't get paid sitting up here being the nice
guy. You know what I'm saying. We've got to get this thing started. You've got a piece of my championship and I'm coming for it."
Jones began a stellar pro career after the 1988 Olympics, where many believe he was robbed of a gold medal. Though 49-3 with 38 knockouts, he has been
beaten only twice. The other loss was a disqualification in 1997.
Jones often was referred to as the best fighter anywhere, pound for pound, and he wasn't shy about calling himself the greatest. He won titles at
classes ranging from middleweight to heavyweight. He got a piece of the heavyweight title in March 2003 by taking the WBA crown from John Ruiz.
Jones dropped weight quickly to fight Tarver in November, barely capturing the light heavyweight title in their first meeting. In the May rematch,
Tarver stopped Jones with a left that sent him sprawling.
Now, Tarver said, Jones is out of the picture.
"I want to see the man go on and enjoy his life after boxing," Tarver said. "We don't need to see Roy Jones go through the things he went through
tonight, the things he went through on May 15. Let the man ride off into the sunset."
Johnson began his pro career at 24 and gained his title, his first, by beating European champion Clinton Woods in February.
"I hope the best for Roy Jones," he said. "I hope he's not hurt and everything else, and I'll fight anybody else. It don't matter."
Johnson came out charging from the opening bell. Jones, the obvious crowd favourite, began to draw boos by the seventh round.
"What are you waiting for, Roy?" one fan yelled.
Johnson threw 437 punches to 270 for Jones who spent much of the fight against the ropes or backing up.
Then Johnson landed the right-left that put Jones flat on his back. And he stayed there. For a few seconds, the crowd was quiet. It took Jones' crew
almost four minutes to get him on his feet. Finally, he walked out of the ring helped by his trainers. The trip to the hospital, his handlers said,
was for a checkup and he was OK.
Asked about the beginning-of-the-end punch, Johnson was matter of fact.
"The right hand? You want me to tell you about the right hand?" he responded. "It was a right hand. That's it."