A terrible and obvious mismatch is a bad thing in the sport of boxing; for numerous reasons. Chief among these reasons is the risk to his health the grossly mismatched fighter faces. Rewind to January of 1999, and Roy Jones Jr really was the king of boxing, or “Superman” if you prefer. At or around his absolute fighting peak at age 30, and 38-1 – the DQ loss to Montell Griffin having been swiftly and quite brutally avenged – Jones was the best fighter on the planet pound-for-pound.
Jones was also the WBA/WBC light-heavyweight champion, soon to be the unified WBA/WBC/IBF ruler. But, in his first fight of the year, Jones was somehow matched with a fighter who, though ranked, for whatever reasons, as the #1 WBC contender, was in no way capable of giving Jones a fight. And everyone knew it. The fight, and with it the predicted easy win Jones scored, caused outrage. While an unexpected apology also came.
Jones, having way, way, way too much of everything for Frazier, a New York City police officer, chased his challenger around the ring like he’d committed a crime. But the real crime here was the match making, along with Frazier’s inexplicable mandatory status. Jones blasted through Frazier, dropping him in the opening round (this with a combination that actually missed) and then getting the stoppage win a single second before the end of round two. Jones barely broke a sweat.
Lou DiBella, who was senior vice president at HBO at the time of the fight/mismatch, later stated how WBC president Jose Sulaiman should be “embarrassed” for the way his organisation had ranked Frazier so highly. “It was disgraceful,” DiBella said, his sentiments shared by all – including, to his credit after the fact, Sulaiman.
Sulaiman was indeed embarrassed, to the extent that he apologised for the fight. “I am embarrassed, I take full responsibility,” he said, basically having no other option.
As for Jones, he would go on to wipe out anyone in his path, with good fighters such as Reggie Johnson, Richard Hall, Eric Harding, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Clinton Woods, and, up at heavyweight, John Ruiz being beaten. This made the truly stunning loss Jones suffered at the hands of Antonio Tarver, in their May 2004 rematch, all the more earth-shattering.
At the time of the Frazier farce, this was still some years away. Thankfully, Frazier did not suffer serious injury in his impossible, it-should-never-have-happened fight with Jones. Yet here we are, all this time later, still seeing mismatches put on. Some things never change, do they?
Frazier, a good, honest fighter, should not be remembered just for the Jones episode, although this is in fact the case. Frazier, who finished at 18-4-1, never fought again after the Jones hammering, yet he did pick up good wins over Tyrone Frazier, Anthony Hembrick, and Maurice Harris prior to that bad night, that embarrassing night, in Pensacola.