-- There were two distinct sounds in the ring late Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The first was the thud of Roy Jones Jr. hitting the canvas with less than two minutes left in the second round of a stunning knockout that could portend the end of one of boxing's most illustrious careers. The second was the cash register ringing for Antonio Tarver, whose sweeping left hook put him in position to finally cash in at age 35.
Tarver, who only eight days before the bout filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal bankruptcy court in Tampa, understood immediately what his knockout would bring.
"I fought for peanuts for years," said Tarver (22-2). "I fought in all these small places, like the Blue Horizon [in Philadelphia], and I more than paid my dues."
And after earning slightly more than $2 million plus a $100,000 bonus that promoter Don King paid him at a party, the new World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion understood he's finally sitting on a gold mine.
King controls three of the four major heavyweight champions and all of the cruiserweight champs, opening numerous possibilities for Tarver.
"I'm a superstar now in the sport of boxing," Tarver said. "Boxing is alive and I want to make the big fights. I want to show you people what you've been missing out on all this time."
Tarver's win all but killed the idea of a Jones-Mike Tyson fight, one many experts believe was the biggest potential pay-per-view bout on the horizon.
Jones's future remains muddy and he wouldn't say when -- or even if -- he'll fight again. Jones is 49-2 in a career that undoubtedly will land him in the Hall of Fame after world titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, but Tarver made him look every one of his 35 years on Saturday.
"This ain't the time to talk about that," Jones said of his future.
Tarver, though, had plenty to say and he made it clear he wants to cash in on his bonanza.
King wouldn't rule out anyone as a potential opponent, including the unretiring Felix Trinidad, who will return to boxing after a two-year hiatus to fight Ricardo Mayorga as a middleweight on Oct. 2.
Regardless of which way he goes, Tarver plans to take advantage of his success.
"I would have knocked anybody out with that shot because I hit him right on the kisser," Tarver said. 'He wasn't getting up from that. It was a beautiful punch. I felt it all the way to the bottom of my toes. My time has come and I want to be a people's champion. I'm going to fight all the big fights that the people want to see.
"Get used to this face," he said, grinning. "You're going to see a lot of it."