Roy Jones Jr: The By-Product Of Overzealous Hype?

26.05.04 - By Nat Kerr - - Its scary how things can change literally overnight. Little more than a week ago Roy Jones Junior was being compared to the likes of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. Words like, ďone of the best everĒ, ďbest pound for pound Ē and ďlegendĒ were attached to every periodical associated with the self-proclaimed great. That all changed with one counter left from Antonio Tarver.

After Tarverís victory over Jones, publication after publication has called to question Royís legacy as a boxer. It has become commonplace to read just how overrated, over hyped Jones was, and how he dominated during an era when the light heavyweight division was devoid of competitive fighters. What is far more disturbing for fight fans is that these same experts were predicting a walk in the park for Jones in his rematch with Tarver.

Why the sudden reversal of opinion?

Chalk it up to hero worship at itís worst. Before the Tarver debacle, Roy Jones Junior was the infallible protagonist the American media so desperately sought. For many, he was the second coming of Muhammad Ali. He was brash, cocky, arrogant, and self-confident. Full of the same self-hype that propelled Ali into the annals of history as the most recognized sporting figure of the 20-th century. Roy Jones embodied the American athlete; albeit post-Ali, that proclaimed his greatness and went on to prove it with his actions. He could do no wrong. When he was caught using an illegal substance in May of 2000, no one bothered to dissect what should have been a scandal. In fact, only one media outlet- from France of all places, made any attempt to contact the office of the Commissioner of Indiana Boxing to investigate the issue. The American media didnít bother. It just didnít fit the image of Jones they were so eager to portray.

The bitter truth is Roy Jones Junior was never a legend. There is no denying Jones was the best boxing had to offer for a decade. But, before Tarver, Jones had not been hit very often. Yes, a good defence means you donít get a hit a lot. Jones has tremendous quickness, excellent foot speed, instinct and the ability to elude a punch- all positives. But everyone gets hit sooner or later, and a fighterís chin goes along way in deciding his fate in the ring. One of the few times Roy Jones Juniorís chin was tested before the Tarver fight, Lou Del Valle, in a fight way back in 1998, tagged him with a left that had the champion kissing canvas for the first time in his career. That night Roy Jones was able to recover from the knockdown to win a unanimous decision. Against Antonio Tarver he was not so lucky. When Jones was finally hit flush by a respectable puncher, he went down for the count. All credit in the world to Tarver and Buddy McGirt for having the courage to take the fight to Jones. But the knockout was as much about Jonesí physical attributes as it was about Tarverís punching power.

Few will disagree that to be considered a great, a legend, you have to conquer great fighters. Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Sonny Liston-three of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Roy Jones didnít have a Frazier to bring credence to all of the hype. He avoided the only fighter who threatened his throne-Dariusz Michalczewski, who at the time was, besides Jones, the best light heavyweight in the world. The poor state of the light-heavyweight division notwithstanding, the Michalczewski case highlights that it was not always the lack of opposition that maligned Jonesí quest to be a boxing legend. In part, Jones himself was at fault for picking and choosing safe opponents, rather than fighting worthier foe. Bottom line: Royís competition was just not strong enough to lend credibility to all of the self-marketing and propaganda surrounding his persona.

Looking back, it wasnít Roy Jones that was exposed on May 15th. Rather, it was the media and itís overzealous hyping of Jones that went down for the count. Way too much time and effort was spent trying to convince the masses that Jones was the second coming of one legend or another. Perhaps next time a pundit decides to brand someone one of the best ever, they should do so when the fighterís career is long over. At least that way a more objective analysis can be made.

Article posted on 26.05.2004

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