It’s always hard to comprehend what you have just seen on the rare occasion when a great, seemingly untouchable and unbeatable fighter is stunned to defeat, losing his perfect record as a result of the result no-one saw coming: think Buster Douglas KO Mike Tyson, Lloyd Honeyghan TKO Don Curry, Frankie Randall W12 Julio Cesar Chavez and, in another stunner, the fight that took place 22 years ago today, March 21, 1997, when Montell Griffin upset a peak Roy Jones Jr.
28 year old Jones, the universally accepted pound-for-pound king, who had seen off all comers to reach his 34-0 record, was controversially beaten by Montell Griffin in their light-heavyweight clash. Jones, unable to get to grips with Griffin’s style, was pushed hard by his 26-0 challenger. Finding himself having the toughest fight of his career to date, Jones, somewhat desperate, cracked Griffin as he was half up/half down after taking a knee whilst under pressure in the ninth-round.
Jones belted his kneeling target with a right-left combo to the head; Griffin left face-first on the mat. It was sensational stuff and no-one could quite believe what they had seen. Then came the official result. Initially, Jones thought he had won the fight via KO, but he was instead, sensationally, disqualified. Talk about a stunner, a great fighter no-one thought would ever lose had lost; albeit in weird circumstances.
Appeals were filed by the Jones camp, but Griffin saw his win stand. He rematch simply, absolutely had to happen.
The rematch was made and Jones, fuming over losing and the manner in which he had been beaten, brought out his other self, his ‘devil.’ Dubbed “Unfinished Business,” the rematch was no match at all. Mere seconds in, a fired up, extremely motivated Jones scored a knockdown, catching Griffin with a left hook that sent him into the ropes. Now stalking his prey, Jones’ left hand proved to be utterly destructive with just over 30-seconds left in the opening session. Jumping in with a blistering left hook, Jones knocked Griffin down for a second time. This time, his equilibrium completely blasted, Griffin fell in spectacular fashion, and then he fell again; all over the ring.
His legs totally gone, Griffin was simply wiped out on this occasion. It was a chilling, ruthless and hugely impressive display of punching power and speed. These two 175-pounders were now 1-1, but there was no need for a rubber-match. The Jones/Griffin rivalry was over and there was no debate over who the better, greater fighter was.
Still, Griffin, who retired with a fine 50-8-1(30) record in 2011, will always be remembered as the first man to defeat the “unbeatable” Roy Jones Junior.