Roy Jones Jr: The End Of An Era

17.05.04 - By Matthew Hurley: It had to happen at some point. Roy Jones is not “Superman” as Don King dubbed him and, let’s be honest, that’s how Roy viewed himself. His arrogance knew no bounds. So now it’s the opportune time for all the Roy Jones haters to laugh and point and snicker in the wake of “Sir” Roy’s comeuppance at the hands of Antonio Tarver. He finally fell face first into mortality. He’s just like every other fighter who has ever laced up the gloves – he’s beatable.

I’ve never been a fan of Roy Jones. I’ve never liked his style and I’ve never particularly liked him. Frankly I get annoyed with any athlete that talks about themselves in the third person. Jones, in spite of all his accomplishments, has always annoyed me. All sports fans have athletes that get under their skin and for me it’s been Bill Lambier, Claude Lemieux, Mariano Rivera (yeah, I’m a Red Sox fan), Lennox Lewis and Roy Jones. I hate his unorthodox style, I can’t stand his gimmicky ring entrances… hell, it annoys me that he lives on an estate with a million chickens. I don’t know why, it just does, and… and, I’ve never bet against him. Not once, until Saturday night against Antonio Tarver.

There was just something about the first fight between these two that set off a bell in my head. Roy looked old. Forget the weight loss and, for that matter, toss out the fact that Tarver represented a difficult style, Roy looked tired. As my buddy Brian and I suffered through Saturday’s boring NBC boxing card my friend asked me about the Jones vs. Tarver fight.

“Jones will just knock him out right?” he asked.

“Tarver will beat him,” I replied.

“But Jones is the best right?”

I nodded. “Yep… but there’s always someone out there that’s got your number… and Jones is old.”

“You should bet…”

As we watched Smarty Jones win the Preakness I wish I had laid a bet down. I just knew Tarver would win. I didn’t even write about the fight because I figured if I went out on a limb and said Tarver would knock him out I’d get a boatload of hate mail, and believe me I’ve received all I can take.

So why do I find myself in a rather melancholy mood in light of Jones’ defeat? It’s because an era is ending and it’s because, in spite of my antipathy towards him, Roy Jones is a great fighter. Not “was” a great fighter – “is” a great fighter. Muhammad Ali “is” a great fighter. Thomas Hearns “is” a great fighter. Roberto Duran “is” a great fighter. In my book you don’t become a “was”. If you achieve greatness, you’re simply great, end of story. And Roy Jones is great. I may not like him, but I know he was the preeminent fighter of his time. There’s no question about that and it always makes me sad when age and wear and tear chip away at greatness.

Roy Jones was not my kind of fighter but I appreciated him and now that he’s been humbled I feel a little uncertain about boxing in general. If we can’t count on “Superman” who can we count on? Time waits for no man, not even Roy Jones. So, it’s with a strangely heavy heart that this corner salutes a great fighter who never really endeared himself to fight fans like myself. It puzzles me that I never rooted for this unbelievably gifted fighter. And it puzzles me even more that I find myself so sad that he finally lost.

Article posted on 17.05.2004

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