The boxing calendar is literally filled with notable birthdays here in the month of January: Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Hopkins. And Jones: Roy Jones Jr. In his prime, 1993 to 2003, Jones was all but untouchable, he was all but unbeatable. Only the grossly underrated and underappreciated Montell Griffin managed a win over Jones during this dazzling, at times otherworldly period; with Griffin getting the DQ win in 1997, this when a frustrated Jones belted his man while he was down on one knee.
But before that fight, and indeed after it; not least in the quickly arranged rematch – Jones did really look like a fistic “Superman.”
Bernard Hopkins? Schooled over 12 rounds. Thomas Tate? Taken out in two rounds. James Toney? Schooled over 12 rounds. Vinnie Pazienza? Destroyed, bit by bit, piece by piece over the course of six grossly one-sided sessions. The great (albeit past his best) Mike McCallum? Carried for 12 rounds. Montell Griffin? Wiped out inside a round in the return meeting. Virgil Hill? Crushed by a rib-busting shot in the fourth round. John Ruiz? Taken to school over 12 rounds.
This is just a part (a big part) of Jones’ resume.
You tell me that the prime Roy Jones would not have lived with ANY fighter in ANY era.
Jones could have walked away, all but flawless, after the heavyweight title win over Ruiz. But Jones instead carried on; getting beaten, getting KO’d, by Antonio Tarver, by Glen Johnson, by Danny Green, by Denis Lebedev, by Enzo Maccarinelli.
The late career defeats hurt Jones’ legacy, sure, but the master from Pensacola still ranks as one of the truly special ones. For a decade, when boxing across four weight divisions, when fighting nothing but the best, Jones made boxing an art; he made it a habit to romp home with a dazzling victory. It’s true, no-one could scarcely touch the prime, at his peak Roy Jones Jr.
In a way, we can all but forget eight of the nine losses Jones suffered. Only one man defeated the real Roy Jones Jr, and RJ took care of business in ruthless fashion in the return. Jones made his mark on the sport in many ways, yet one of his legacies might be that of being the poster boy for what can happen to a fighter who carries on fighting for too long.
Even a boxer with otherworldly skills, if he messes around with Father Time, will inevitably come up short.