Roy Jones Jr. – His return for pride

01.08.05 - By Steven Lowry: Stick around this game long enough and it is bound to bite you. No one escapes…not even legends. It happened to Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, and eventually to one of the greatest boxers in the 90’s, Roy Jones Jr. Now, Light heavyweight Roy Jones Jr. (49-3, 38 KO’s) will return to the ring yet again to fight top-ranked Antonio Tarver for a third time on October 1. The 36-year old Jones won the first fight by majority decision in November, 2003.. Afterwards, Jones blamed his dramatic weight loss that he undertook following his victory over John Ruiz for his poor performance. However, in their second fight, Tarver embarrassed Jones by knocking him out with one punch in the second round of their rematch in May, 2004. Since then, it’s been down hill for Jones, as he was again viciously knocked out, this time to Glen Johnson in the 9th round on September 2004. Nevertheless, it wasn't just the knockout that made Jones look so washed up; it was the way he fought throughout the nine rounds.

Jones looked like a carbon copy of Evander Holyfield, in recent years. It was as if Jones was fighting in quicksand, because he unable to let his hands go, despite the fact that Glen Johnson presented a fairly easy target to hit. From my viewpoint, it simply was classic case of a fighter with shot reflexes. The only time Jones was effective was when he was able to push Johnson against the ropes and crowd him with punches. But Johnson was easily able to slip away before the now slow footed Jones could do any damage.

After losing to Glen Johnson, many would think that Roy Jones would leave boxing and enjoy a comfortable life with his already made money, but, no, Jones still has a score to settle with Tarver, no matter how remote his chance for winning may be. However, lets be honest, Jones is a shadow of his former self, a sick caricature of his once great talent, now dulled and withered. For me, I can clearly see that Jones’ is completely washed up, but for many gullible fans, they still see the Roy from 10 years ago, not the stretched out Roy, flat on his back after getting viciously Ko'd by Tarver and Johnson. These fans hope and pray that Jones can somehow produce the old magic, one more time. Nevertheless, at 36, I only see his speed decreasing, as well as his trademark ‘hard to hit style.’ These attributes are what made him what he is today, and without them at full power, he can never beat Tarver. Heck, for that matter, I couldn't see him beating WBA light heavyweight champion Fabrice Tiozzo, who I think would easily beat Jones at this stage of his career.

Time will tell, but as recent events with Bernard Hopkins and Mike Tyson have shown, age, and not being able to perform at 100%, do lead to reputations of superstars being bruised, or battered like Tyson’s. I am not comparing Jones to Bernard Hopkins, but knowing when enough is enough doesn’t come naturally to these fighters. That being said, I think Roy Jones Jr. will give every ounce of his diminished energy into beating Tarver. But can determination and grit pull Jones through, especially when he based his career on his boxing skills, not brawn?

From the look of things, Jones appears to really hate losing, and having lost his last two fights, he wants to show the world that he still has what it takes to rule the light heavyweight division, even if for only a short while. Having beaten the likes of Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, Jones wants to show that the last two fights were only slip up’s and now he’s coming back to claim his throne as king of light heavyweight. In my opinion, I think Jones is living in fantasy land. Yes, at one time, Jones was probably the best pound for pound fighter in the 90’s. However, this writer will never agree to that argument, simply because Jones never fought the fiercest middleweights during that time, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Nigel Benn or John Mugabi. If Jones was truly the best, he would have faced these devastating punchers and proved it by beating them. Strangely enough, Jones never fought those guys. Gee, I wonder why?

Without a doubt, losing two fights in a row, has very much hit Jones hard, so his natural reaction, like the Montell Griffin saga, is to try and clear things up and prove that he is the man. For the sake of argument, if Jones does beat Tarver, what then? Does he try for a rematch with Glen Johnson, and eventually look to win a belt, or maybe fight Clinton Woods one more time. Is Jones coming back to settle old scores and prove critics wrong or is he back now merely to try and salvage his badly tarnished legacy?

For Jones’ sake, I hope he is preparing hard for this fight, because three losses in a row would really destroy what is left of his legacy. Even though I don't like his chances of success in his comeback, I do respect him for at least trying to clean up his record against Tarver. Time will tell whether Roy Jones Jr. will go down as a pound for pound hero in many people’s eyes, or the guy who couldn’t get out of the game with his pride intact.

Article posted on 01.08.2005

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