30.07.06 – By Ted Sares: Who Roy Jones should fight next is different from whom we would like him to fight next. Off his fine showing against the limited Prince Badi Ajamu, I submit he should carefully pick one more opponent (some might want to add the word “cherry” before pick) before stepping up in class……………..and to me, stepping up in class means fighting the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Glen Johnson, Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, or Bernard Hopkins..
He has already disposed of Clinton Woods but Woods is vastly improved from that TKO loss and might well fit the “whom” rather than the “who.” Robin Reid is another name that pops up though he would be a big underdog, but remember, this is a work in progress………….or at least it should be depending on the demands of Roy’s substantial ego. Rubin Williams, 28-2, and coming off a UD over Richard Grant, 19-13-1, would be another nice move on the way to the top. But my pick would be KO artist Alejandro Berrio, 25 (24 ko’s)- 4, who recently tko’d the previously unbeaten Yusef Mack, 22-1-2, in spectacular fashion and has a degree of respectability about him based on his opposition, or the undefeated Robert Stieglitz, 28 (18 ko’s)-0 who fights out of Germany. Of course, we all know German fighters don’t want to fight Roy Jones Jr anywhere but in Germany. Indeed, all of Stieglitz’s fights have been in Germany including his last, an 11th round highly controversial TKO win over the aforementioned Berrio in an IBF Super Middleweight Eliminator.
So why consider Berrio over the undefeated but plodding Stieglitz? Because it would be virtually impossible to get the Russian born German to fight outside of Germany and it would be equally difficult and understandable to get Roy to fight in a country known for decisions that seem to go against visiting fighters with alarming frequency. So that kind of leaves Berrio or perhaps Rico Hoye.
But wait, the venerable and tough Syd Vanderpool, 35 (23-ko’s)-4, might be available and would be a common opponent vis a vis Bernard Hopkins, though his fight with the “Executioner” was 6 years ago. Rico Hoye, 19 (14-ko’s)-1, or even Montell Griffin, 48 (30 ko’s)-6, might fit the “who” category quite well. Hoye, out of Detroit, beat Griffin by SD but lost to Clinton Woods by TKO in 5 for the vacant IBF Light Heavyweight Title at the Magna Centre, Rotherham, England last year. His most recent fight was a UD over Derrick Whitley, 24-24-3. Griffin seems to be a on a decline so that fight likely would not be much of a test for Roy.
Lets’s sum it up. I like the Colombian Berrio, Stieglitz or Hoye as the next “test” for Roy Jones, Jr……and by “test,” I mean a fight to determine whether Roy was really that good or was Badi really that bad? And of the three, Berrio is clearly the most dangerous. Even though not a top level fght, it would be a dangerous one for Roy Jones Jr.
But if you want to play the “whom” game, we have a great “redemption” story if he fights Glen Johnson, and if Johnson fights like he did in the second Tarver fight, Roy just might get his redemption. However, my feeling is that, style- wise, Roy should avoid this fight, particularly because of the way Johnson looked in soundly beating Richard Hall and George Khalid Jones in his last two fights. I believe Roy would have great difficulty holding off the stalking and incoming Johnson.
A Lacy bout would be a classic young fighter vs old fighter story and hold a lot of interest for the fans, but I think Lacy needs another fight before stepping up in weight and stepping in with Jones. Style-wise, his one dimensional attack would seem to be made to order for a fit and ready Jones. However, if you like this one, you have to pass it over and like a Joe Calzaghe vs Roy Jones fight much better. After all, Calzaghe ate Lacy for lunch and a fight between the “Pride of Wales” and Jones would be a better one for the fans, albeit a more dangerous one for Roy. Still, Roy would be more comfortable at 175 than Joe who would be moving up in weight. And what about Woods? No, Jones has already been there and done that.
Of course, if one were to make hypothetical adjustments for moving up or down in weight, all kinds of opponents emerge throughout the world…names like Mundine, Kessler and Beyer, but my suspicion is that Calzaghe and Lacy are the only ones likely to do this in the near future.
So what’s left? Well lo and behold, none other than the “retired,”content and smiling Bernard Hopkins looms in the background. Bernard has cemented his place in boxing history and so has Roy……………..but a rematch between these two future Hall of Fame inductees would be one for the ages………………and the winner would still have Calzaghe to consider. In my mind, this is clearly the most compelling fight……the one “we all would like to see.” If Roy engages his ego, we may well see it next. But if he engages his brain before his ego, the fight he considers next arguably should be with Hoye, Stieglitz or Berrio…..pick em. Either way, it’s a treat for the fans.
As fellow writer James Slater says, “the future for Roy Jones, Jr will prove to be very interesting indeed.”
Ted Sares can be reached at email@example.com