01.10.04 – By Bert Randolph Sugar, Sr. Boxing Analyst at-large for CMXsports.com: The business of building a boxing legacy is one filled with monstrous quicksand, its particles shifting rapidly. Within the course of one week boxing fans have witnessed one of boxing’s unsung warriors, Bernard Hopkins, become a gold leaf-fringed legend by practicing his unique form of acupuncture on Oscar De La Hoya and the gilt of greatness of another, Roy Jones Jr., tarnished by being knocked out for the second consecutive time.
While Hopkins was reinventing the Bernard Wheel, the wheels had seemingly fallen off Jones, the man who, for the better part of a decade, had held homesteading rights to the mythic title of boxing’s “Best Pound-for-Pound” fighter. In a world given to fashioning nimbuses for its practitioners, Jones had built a reputation for being, in the words of long-time boxing observer Budd Schulberg, a “genius fighter,” his moves instinctive with a touch of stylized intelligence complete with a la carte and impromptu vamping.
With his title defenses on an unlimited run and having disposed of that rolling stock known as contenders in three weight classes–middle, super middle and light heavy–Jones, his reflexes stimulated like that of Pavlov’s dogs, salivated at the thought of going, Columbus-like, into new worlds and challenging for the heavyweight title. And, disposing of the unfair weight advantage, he continued to rewrite his legend by going up to 198 pounds to take on, and beat, John Ruiz for the WBA version thereof.
Having won a piece of the heavyweight title, Roy vacillated…but what he vacillated between wasn’t quite clear: whether to stay at heavyweight and defend his newly-won title or return to the light heavy division and his normal weight. Finally deciding on the latter, Roy dropped down in weight to take on Antonio Tarver. But his “Indian Rubber Man” act of going down from 198 to 175 took too much out of Jones and Tarver almost ruined his less-than-triumphal return to the light heavyweight ranks by pummeling Jones on his way to a controversial loss.
Viewing the controversial decision as a charge upon his honor, Roy decided to take on Tarver again, hoping to duplicate his effort against Tarver as he had against Montel Griffin, the only other man to hold a decision on any kind over Jones–his by DQ. But such was not to be as Tarver, after asking Jones what his “excuse” was this time in the pre-fight instructions, caught Roy with a pluperfect left straight that came abruptly out of the unknown to land Roy on his legendary backside.
And although Jones tried to put the best face on his knockout loss to Tarver as being the result of “a lucky punch,” long-time Jones-Watchers thought otherwise. They saw the man who once possessed almost magical reflexes and, rather than paying full faith and credit to boxing’s traditions, pulled straight back to avoid punches, held his hands too low and threw one punch at a time, and got away with it because of his speed was no longer the 25-year-old legend, but instead now a 35-year-old legend emeritus.
And so, in Memphis, last Saturday night, the 35-year-old legend emeritus went down–and OUT. Not just a victim of a long Glen Johnson right, but also of Father Time’s knockout punch.
However, before we can agree with Antonio Tarver’s assessment of “Oh well, that’s one legacy gone,” we must argue that Roy Jones Jr. was–past tense–one of boxing’s all-time greats and that his legend, while now somewhat tarnished, still stands. And the hope here is that Roy takes his well-earned laurels and his money and walks away, while he can. Or, in the words of Joe Bugner (and here, Jon Saraceno of USA Today is a quicker quote-finder than yours truly): be able “to get out while you have all your brains all together and your money, and the ability to count it.”
Granted, facts are a stubborn thing to dislodge, but make no mistake about it: Roy Jones Jr., like Bernard Hopkins, belongs on that sparsely populated island called “Greatness” with a cap “G.”
Bert Randolph Sugar, CMXsports’ Sr. Analyst At-Large, called “ The Guru of Boxing,” has a new book Bert Sugar On Boxing,” (or “The Best of Bert Sugar, The Worst of Bert Sugar, What the Hell’s the Difference?”), published by The Lyon Press and currently available at Border’s, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com
BERT RANDOLPH SUGAR’S latest weekly column –“Sugar ‘N Spice” — can be read EXCLUSIVELY at www.CMXsports.com. Sugar, the world-famous boxing historian and sports bon vivant, is the Senior Boxing Analyst at-large for CMXsports, where he is also part of the new Latin boxing broadcast series, “CMX Boxeo de Campeones,” which made its debut, May 28. Presented by CMXsports and promoted by Guilty Boxing, “CMX Boxeo de Campeones” allows boxing fans from around the world to catch all the action via a live internet stream, and access the replay, at www.cmxsports.com for a monthly subscription fee of just $4.95. BEN Television is airing the English language version, “CMX Champions of Boxing,” to its audience of seven million homes, via its free to air channel on BSKYB, to Great Britain and Ireland, plus collectively reaching more than 30 million satellite accessible digital homes in Western Europe and North Africa The series airs Friday nights, beginning at 11 P.M. ET / 8 P.M. PT. Subscribers can also access archived fight footage and get behind-the-scenes interviews, previews and articles. The broadcasts are available in English and Spanish. This week’s show will emanate from The Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
The Runyonesque Sugar, a former editor of The Ring, and Boxing Illustrated magazines and the author of over 50 sports books, lends his world-renowned knowledge and razor-sharp wit to his weekly column which will be dedicated to the hot topics facing boxing today, as well as contrasting and comparing today’s boxing scene to the historic eras of the past. This week, Bert plants his tongue firmly in cheek with his look on Roy Jones, Jr. “Greatness: Like the Biblical Word ‘Selah’ Has no Definition.”
CMXsports and Guilty Boxing are scheduled to produce 48 two-hour shows a year over a three-year period with two cards each month emanating from Las Vegas –The Orleans Hotel & Casino and the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino. The remaining two shows per month will be broadcast from different locations, including, southern California and Mexico.
“CMX Boxeo de Campeones” showcases the very best in action-packed Latin fights, a staple of Guilty Boxing shows over the past decade, as well as an extensive amount of high-quality features on boxing. CMXsports complements the broadcast with the Internet’s capability to provide fans around-the-clock, behind-the-scenes information about the fighters before and after the show, and the state-of-the-art CMXlivecam, allowing fans unprecedented access to the fighters on a real-time basis. In short, CMXsports is leveraging the latest in Internet streaming and interactive technology to produce an unprecedented experience for the viewer.
CMXsports is one of the rapidly growing members of the CMX family of sports and entertainment companies founded by A. Demetrius (Tony) Brown. Brown, a former professional basketball player, established a successful metal trading company that later evolved into CMXchange, a successful Internet-based trading exchange. Over the past two years, Brown has purchased or created a number of companies focused at a range of sports and entertainment products and services.