Time for Roy Jones Jr. to retire

28.09.04 - By Patrick Corcoran: For some reason, Roy Jonesís ninth round knockout loss to Glen Johnson this past Saturday was even more shocking than that to Antonio Tarver last May. It seemed impossible that someone who one year ago was the consensus pound-for-pound champ would lose to fighter stepping into the ring with nine defeats. But then it happened, and Roy Jones went from being in the middle of a rough patch to being on the down slope of a hall of fame career. Those people, and there were many of us, who thought that his loss to Tarver was merely an aberration were proven wrong in dramatic fashion. A lot of us figured that Jones would be the old Roy Jonesópunching from impossible angles, flashing counter shots at an all-but defenseless adversary, controlling the ring like a shark in the ocean. But that was not to be. Even before he ate the penultimate overhand right that ended his night, Jones was not the same fighter who made James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, and John Ruiz look second rate.

It shouldnít have been such a surprise. In his two fights against Tarver in 2003 and 2004, Jones never looked more vulnerable. He hardly resembled the wunderkind who had dominated the boxing world for more than a decade. Jones built his reputation by outclassing foes, but Tarver held his own in the first fight, and destroyed him with one short left hand in the second. Couple that loss with his latest stumble, and Roy is still the Michael Jordan of boxing, but the Washington Wizards version, not the one they love in Chicago.

The question now is, What next for Roy? The obvious answer is to retire. Jones himself said he canít get up for the Antonio Tarvers of the world, and if a lack of motivation leads to consecutive knockout losses, thereís no point in sticking around. Jones has made a pile of money in this game (and by most accounts has managed it superbly), and both his health and his legacy could be at risk should he decide to hang on for a few more meaningless fights. He has a broadcasting career waiting for him at HBO, and although of course that canít match the thrill of competing before an audience of millions, there is nothing thrilling about getting knocked out. Moreover, who is left for Roy? Even assuming that his skills arenít so diminished that he can no longer compete with boxingís best, where is the fight that will motivate Roy Jones? Thatís a question that only Jones can answer, but the prospective fights are underwhelming. The longtime dream of a Tyson superfight is a fantasy.

Even in todayís watered down heavyweight division, itís hard to consider Roy Jones as a credible contender for a belt. Tarver might sign on to a rubber match with Jones, but if Jones didnít want to step in with Jones after the knockout in May, why would he want to now? I could go one for another three hundred words or so about the reasons I think Jones should hang it up, but the proof is in the pudding. And what I say doesnít really matter all that much. If Jones decides that he wonít leave the sport while flat on his back, if he rediscovers his motivation and comes back to win a legitimate title, then all the articles proclaiming Jones a spent fighter are worthless. And it wouldnít be the first time that a determined champ proved the boxing community wrong. However, that appears to be an unlikely scenario, and it hardly seems worth the risk.

After watching this generationís best fighter motionless on the canvas after a shot from Glen Johnson, riding off into the sunset doesnít seem like such a cruel ending for Roy Jones.

Article posted on 28.09.2004

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