Farewell To The King, Roy Jones Jr.

28.09.04 - By Coach Tim Walker: Fifteen years ago Roy Jones Jr. stepped into the professional ranks of boxing on the heels of one of the biggest robberies in Olympic pugilistic history and began a career that would astound fans. Collectively we were in awe of his speed, power, quickness, self drive, and cockiness. The latter made some of us love him and others treat him with contempt.

Irregardless of how we feel about Roy Jones outside the ring we had grown accustom to seeing him out-speed, out-quick, and usually out-think his opponents in the ring. We watched him dominate his competition 49 times with such mastery that critics tagged many of his opponents as B or C level fighters. In reality Roy is the gauge by which many boxers’ careers and status are measured. He was the last man to beat the legendary Bernard Hopkins and the first to beat the infamous James Toney. Even world light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver’s entire legacy consists of the 14 rounds in which he met Jones in the ring. Clinton Woods, Eric Harding and Julio Gonzalez were all contenders but were given little chance against Jones. John Ruiz outweighed Jones by 30 pounds and was expected to lay heavyweight wood in their WBA heavyweight bout. Instead Jones forced his will on Ruiz similarly to when he faced Derrick Harmon, David Telesco, Reggie Johnson and others. We expected the unbelievable from Roy and were seldom disappointed.

Still for all his success Roy Jones Jr. is the most recent example a fighter getting old overnight. Sometimes a boxer just knows his time has come and other times the public can sense it before the boxer does.

Lennox Lewis, the greatest heavyweight of this era, sensed that his time had come. When facing Vitali Klitschko, who was given only a marginal chance of winning, Lennox struggled in his preparation and squeaked out a victory on a cuts stoppage. Following the fight Lennox realized that the drive and desire needed to step intot the ring was gone and decided that it was better for him to let it go.

Prior to his fight with Tarver we heard talk from Jones that he wasn’t excited anymore about boxing. He even made mention from time to time about getting out of the game and talked of how training had become difficult and strenuous. In his first fight with Tarver, another boxer who was only given a marginal chance of winning, Jones squeaked out a controversial unanimous decision. The signs of retirement were there but they were not interpreted correctly. In the rematch with Tarver Roy looked sharp but was knocked out in the second round. Again, the signs of retirement were there but they were not interpreted correctly.

Instead of the typical tomato can bout that usually follows a knockout, Roy signed to fight Glengoffe Johnson the IBF light heavyweight champion. Johnson won this belt against Clinton Woods via the unanimous decision. Jones also battled Woods in 2002 and dispatched of him in six rounds.

In the press conferences and interviews the signs also appeared to be there but weren’t interpreted correctly. The cockiness that has been a signature of Jones wasn’t there. Instead there appeared a meek Jones who paid tribute to his opponent.

There was something clearly different with Jones. From the opening bell Johnson, who a couple of years ago would have been likened to many of Jones’ other competition, had the upper hand. Jones stood virtually in cement and in some rounds registered less than 10 landed punches. What was wrong with Roy became painfully obvious as the rounds collected. Time had finally stolen his gifts.

To Jones’ credit, for years he was an athletic unorthodox boxer who relied heavily on his physical attributes. He carried his hands by his sides, baited his opponents by putting his head in punching range, and often would leap in with left hooks and straight rights.

Those days are over. Roy there is no more for you to do. There is no more for you to prove. Your time to let it go has finally come and those of us who respect the science of boxing understand the transition. Sure you will always have critics just as Ali, Robinson and Marciano. But rest assured that a few years from now your name will be mentioned in the same breath with them. Tarver and Johnson are deserving of the earnings that await them but greatness is yours. There is no shame in getting old it happens to all of us.

Thanks for the fun and the memories. Your time to let it go is now.

Article posted on 28.09.2004

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