'Relevant or Evident': Can Roy Jones Jr. Rise The Top? Or Is He Simply Shot?

roy jones jr.05.07.07- By Vivek Wallace: On the evening of July 14th at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, the world of Boxing will welcome back a man who needs no introduction.

Somewhat missing in action over the last few years, but highly rated prior to, Roy Jones Jr. has set the table for what he plans to be a very successful campaign to regain his once undeniable pound for pound status.

Still basking in a frame of mind that stands far from a lack of confidence, Roy Jones Jr. was recently quoted as saying that he read a magazine and noticed that of the two top pound for pound fighters listed, (assumed to be Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao), neither could throw 5 and 6 punch combinations like him. To his credit, as good as the two fighters are that he is assumed to be talking about, Roy was probably right in that assumption.

Many have felt that Roy's talents has earned him a permanent spot on the list of greats despite a recent down spiral. Further cementing this point from an outside perspective is the great Emmanuel Steward who stated that as great as Floyd Mayweather Jr. is, from a skills standpoint, he still feels the best fighter of the post Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard era is by far Roy Jones Jr.

Assuming this opinion is correct leads most to wonder, based on this apparent greatness, how is it that Roy Jones Jr. has suddenly gone from being a literal 'gloved virtuoso', to simply another face in the crowd?

This is a man who dismantled boxings ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins while both were in their primes. This is a guy who walked away victorious after facing one of boxings (once upon a time) best in-ring strategist, James Toney. This was a guy who went all the way up to the heavyweight division and soundly defeated one of the most awkward pugilist of our era to go down in the history book. The same guy who was so good that his fights were practically boring to watch because few could hit him, let alone steal enough rounds to make competitive fights.

After doing all of those great things, perhaps it was the last 'feather in his cap' (jumping to heavyweight) that made a world of a difference as the man who once seemed super literally became ordinary over night.

Good Move, Bad Move

Recently Roy Jones Jr. openly conceded to the fact that like most insiders felt all along, he should have taken more time off to let his body recover after the huge jump to the heavies. After gaining better than 20 lbs of muscle, Jones Jr. came down in weight to face the light heavyweight divisions best fighter, Antonio Tarver. For Jones, he would initially do enough to win in a fight most thought he lost, but in the rematch, there were simply no question as to who the better fighter on that night was as Jones Jr. suffered his first pro loss in a stunning fashion - a TKO in the 2nd round.

Anxious to bounce back, only four months later he found himself in the ring with a journeyman who had a lot to prove and again found an unfortunate fate which left him not only out for a ten count, but at the time, presumably out of what had been a stellar career.

The warrior aspect of Roy Jones Jr. wouldn't allow himself to go out this way so he continued his mission and ultimately ended the torturous 3 year stint with a 1-3 record.

2nd Coming Of A 'King'?:

With a renewed commitment to regaining his pound for pound status, Roy Jones Jr. has once again set out to prove the many doubters of the fight game wrong. In recent years we've seen another fighter with amazing talent who came across two guys who had his number {Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest} rebound to put his stamp back on the world of boxing. That fighter being the also fast, also talented Shane Mosley.

To say that Roy doesn't have the tools to do this is narrow-minded and in a very categorical way, purely dismissive. In his last fight against Prince Badi Ajamu there were flashes of greatness but some questioned his opponent who fought very few notable fighters prior to tangling with Roy.

As we stand slightly over a week away from his next showdown, again, Roy will find himself in the ring against a fighter who critics view as talented but untested. Whether or not Anthony Hanshaw (21-0, 14KO's) - a pupil of trainer great Floyd Mayweather Sr. - has what it takes to pull off the upset will have a lot to do with which Roy Jones Jr. shows up. Based on age alone (38) we know this won't be the same Roy that hopped in the ring on May 22nd of '93 with Bernard Hopkins. But if it's anywhere close to the one who dominated Prince Ajami last year, for now that could very well be enough.

Many challenges await Roy Jones Jr. if he is victorious. He has been calling out the somewhat sheltered, yet very polished Joe Calzaghe. There's always a possibility of a rematch against Bernard 'The Executioner' Hopkins. Then there's the recently unfolding story which pins him against Puerto Rican mega-star Felix 'Tito' Trinidad. A focused Roy could score enough to walk out with victorious over any of these guys but no one quite knows what Roy has left in his tank. It'll be Roy's task to show and prove so until he does, one can only guess.

Where this road will ultimately lead for Roy Jones Jr.?, no one quite knows. But win, lose, or draw, we do know that one day it will culminate in a pit stop at Canastota, New York where he will join all the other greats of the 'blue abyss', the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Article posted on 05.07.2007

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