Roy Jones Jr: “Tomasz Adamek is a much bigger fight, much better fight, and a much smarter fight than Michael Sprott”

by Geoffrey Ciani – This week’s 101st edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview Roy Jones Junior (54-7, 40 KOs), who has held titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight divisions. Jones lost a unanimous decision in his most recent effort against long time rival Bernard Hopkins in April. Jones spoke about his career, and also discussed the possibility of making a return to heavyweight in hopes of landing fights against Tomasz Adamek and/or David Haye. Here is a complete transcript of that interview:

JENNA J: It’s actually time for our third guest, and that is someone who is a former middleweight, super-middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight champion of the world. We are joined by the one and only Roy Jones Junior. How are you doing tonight Roy?

ROY JONES: Things are going pretty good. How about yourself?

JENNA: It’s going great. I’m glad to be talking to you tonight. I got to first ask you Roy, there have been some rumors that you are considering a move back up to heavyweight. What do you have to say to that?

JONES: Most definitely that’s the rumor. I was considering it. I have several reasons to consider it. For one, I went to England to do some things and just to visit my fans and touring a little bit out there, and the notion came up about maybe filling up Wembley Arena fighting David Haye. I was like, “Really”, they were like, “Yeah, it would sell the arena out”. They built the arena for Hatton and Mayweather, but that fight happened in the United States. So they haven’t had anything of that magnitude yet, but they said myself and David Haye would sell the arena out. So that of course quickly got my attention. When I came back I was at a fight commentating two weeks ago for Zab Judah, and Tomasz Adamek walked up to me and is like, ‘Hey, I thought we were going to fight?’ I said, ‘Whoa, did you say you want to fight me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I want to fight you’. I was like, ‘Wow, okay’. People don’t often ask to fight me but if you ask for it you can get it. I mean, it’s just amazing that he asked for it. I knew we had talked to his people once briefly, but me and him never really talked about it face to face. When he came face to face and asked for it, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s interesting’. If you want it, be careful what you ask for because you just can get it. So at some point we can start talking, but he does have a fight against Vinnie Maddalone and that has to take place first. So I really haven’t thought about it much more. It’s like I didn’t talk to David Haye much because he had to deal with Audley Harrison. He had things to continue to do, and Adamek has to deal with Maddalone and he hasn’t finished. So I’m just kind of sitting and waiting, but definitely it looks like the way to go.

JENNA: Alright now there has also been rumors that you might possibly be facing Michel Sprott. Is there any truth to that?

JONES: Yeah, there was truth to that, too. That was a possible tune-up fight if I was going to go over there and fight David Haye, if David Haye wanted to fight or wanted to see if I was ready. That was a possibility, but we haven’t come full circle yet. However, Michael Sprott is a decent fighter and he did win that TV series that they have there, but Tomasz Adamek is a much bigger fight, much better fight, and a much smarter fight than Michael Sprott. So when Tomasz Adamek stepped to the forefront, he became the frontrunner. The only person that would be over him would be David Haye because he has a title.

JENNA: Now you mentioned David Haye. What were your thoughts on his fight just a couple of weeks ago against Audley Harrison?

JONES: David Haye is absolutely magnificent. He’s a quick fighter. He’s very quick for a heavyweight. He works hard. He’s very exciting inside the ring. I love to watch him fight. I thought he had a wonderful fight. I thought he fought a very smart fight. He was always, as usual, very impressive to me.

JENNA: You were originally scheduled to come back to the ring in October against Danny Santiago and you had a hand injury. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you are feeling now?

JONES: Yeah, the hand injury was a good and a bad thing. It was bad because it got the fight canceled for me, but it was a good thing because it’s been a long time since I was punching definitively enough to hurt my hands in training. That usually means things are happening like they’re supposed to happen, because I was a guy who was long followed by hand injuries. I also hurt my hands because I was a great puncher. Lately I haven’t been hurting my hands because I haven’t really been punching the way I used to punch. This time I was getting a lot of it back and a lot of things were coming back to me, and I was like ‘Wow!’ Then the punching power started and the effects of the punches started being like it used to be, and it actually got to the point where I reinjured my hand. So I knew I was getting myself back, but I hurt my hand and had to pull out. I’m back in t he gym now and I’ll be ready by the time if Adamek decides if he wants to do something or if David Haye decides if he wants to do something.

JENNA: Alright now you mentioned those guys at heavyweight, but where do you ultimately see your future at? Do you see it at heavyweight? Or do you see a fight where you could possibly go back to 175?

JONES: Well you know every time I try to put myself at one weight class or another, something spectacular happens. I mean, just a couple of weeks ago Glen Johnson went back to 168 pounds and knocked out Allan Green. Wow! With that being said and seeing that, after he ballooned up from 175 pounds to 190 and then going down, anything can happen at any weight class. So for me, I’m not a guy who has to prove myself. I’m definitely what I am. I’m still to them basically living in this game. Most of the guys who are fighting and are on top now grew up watching Roy Jones Junior, therefore Roy Jones Junior is capable of pulling anything off at any time. So I don’t have anything to prove, so with me if it’s not a big fight I’m not going to waste my time. That’s the difference between a Michael Sprott and a Tomasz Adamek. Tomasz Adamek is a big fight. Michael Sprott is not really a big fight. He’s just a guy who won a big series and he’s a good fighter, but at the same time, nobody really knows Michael Sprott in this country.

JENNA: Speaking of big fights, your last bout out you fought Bernard Hopkins and you lost a unanimous decision. Can you tell us a little bit about that fight and why you were unable to come out victorious?

JONES: That was a fight that, first of all, it took too long to happen so at that point I think I was no longer as interested in it as I wanted to be. I couldn’t get up like I wanted to get up. All this time, now you finally want to do it. The only reason you’re doing it now is because you think you see flaws in me. So once I got in a ring and hit him with a body shot on the side and he goes down like it was a low blow and the referee allows him to do that, and then when he hits you behind the head they don’t say anything and when you hit him back they take points. Well, at this point I think I was going to get disqualified. If I knocked him out they would have disqualified me. There was really nothing positive for me to gain from that fight. Yeah, he won the fight and I’m glad he won it like he wanted to win it. Me, I couldn’t win a fight like that and be happy with it, but if that’s how he wants to take it fine. So we’re 1-1, but I’m convinced that my ‘one’ was in our prime. His ‘one’ was when we were old men. So I’m cool with that. As far as the rest of it, I still feel like I got good hands, good feet, great balance, and I’m still capable of beating anyone on any given day.

JENNA: Well it seems that Bernard Hopkins has parlayed that win over you into a title shot against Jean Pascal. I’m curious, what are your thoughts about that December 18 match-up?

JONES: I think it’s a great match-up for both fighters. I like Jean Pascal in the fight, but I think it’s a great match-up for both fighters and that’s good that Bernard could parlay that into a better fight for himself.

JENNA: Alright well Roy, we’re also joined by my co-host Geoff Ciani.

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Roy. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.

JONES: Hey, thank you brother. I appreciate that.

CIANI: I actually had the honor of meeting you Roy, at the Zab Judah fight recently. I’m not sure if you remember, but the first thing I wanted to as you was not about boxing, but about your abilities as a commentator. I’m curious if that is something, when you eventually do hang up the gloves for good, is that something you’d be interested in doing?

JONES: Most definitely, I love commentating and the thing I love most about commentating is it’s part of boxing is missing. People don’t understand the sport of boxing, how serious in the sport and how serious of a technician you have to be to be a great boxer. So for me to be able to tell it over the telecast and relate it back to people so they can see what I’m talking about at the same time, and I can educate them about the sport of boxing. It makes me feel good and I feel like I’m doing a great deed for the sport of boxing. When people are educated about something and they understand it, it’s more likely that they will be supportive and want to watch it because they understand it better.

CIANI: Now you’ve commentated a lot of great fights over the years. What were some of your most memorable moments for fights that you got to call?

JONES: On of them was Barrera and Kennedy McKinney. That’s one I’ll never forget. It was a great fight and it was a terrific fight. That probably sticks out best in my mind out of any of the rest of them.

CIANI: Manny Pacquiao recently had a fight against Antonio Margarito. I’m curious, what are your thoughts on Manny Pacquiao as a fighter? What were your thoughts on his performance?

JONES: He’s pound for pound the best fighter in the world, and he put on a magnificent performance—magnificent. I mean I gave up 27 pounds and beat John Ruiz, but I’m a bigger guy, too. For him to give up the kind of weight like he did to this kid Margarito and beat him like he did, it was absolutely magnificent.

CIANI: You said that Pacquiao is the pound for pound king right now, and that’s a distinction you once held. Right now there are a lot of fans torn between whether it’s Pacquiao or Mayweather, and I’m wondering do you think fans will finally get to see that fight in 2011?

JONES: Yeah I think they will and I hope they do, but right now Pacquiao has it and Floyd’s going to have to take it from Pacquiao.

CIANI: Do you regret that at the time you reigned amongst the top in the sport that you never had a rival like that who was also at the top pound for pound at the time?

JONES: Well you can’t regret it. If I had that, I wouldn’t have made history or put myself in the history books as becoming only the second man to win the middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight title. Therefore, it probably was best that I didn’t have a rival because if I did I would have been stuck battling my rival and I never would have thought about going up and fighting for the heavyweight title. So God knew me better than I knew myself. If I had a rival, I would have never left the division. I would have stayed and battled with my rival because that’s just what I am.

CIANI: Now the one guy that there was a lot of reasons the fight didn’t happen according to fans. There was a guy that a lot of people wanted to see, but you were big over here in the States and he was big over there in Germany. I’m of course talking about Dariusz Michalczewski. Can you tell the fans, from your perspective, why that fight never came together and whether in retrospect you ever wish that it did just so you would have had the chance to prove yourself actually in the ring to silence any doubters you had on that front?

JONES: Well you know I was a guy who was self-promoted and could fight anybody at any time. If you’re the man—which I was the man at that time—why would I go to your turf to challenge you when I’m the man? When I know hard it is to win most times in Germany? I watched a lot of fights in Germany, and sometimes it’s pretty tough to get the decision over there, especially when you’re fighting one of the top guys. So why would I go over there and fight Dariusz when I was the man? He had something to prove, not me. I was pound for pound number one. To be the man you need to beat the man. To beat the man, you need to go where the other man is and beat him, right? If I was number two, or number three, or not even on the pound for pound list, and Dariusz Michalczewski was the pound for pound man, then I would be willing to go to Germany and take that risk, because I want to prove that I’m better.

CIANI: We also had Montell Griffin on our show once and he basically said the same thing. He actually said you and him had a conversation about Germany, because he was doing well in his fight with Michalczewski before it controversially was stopped after a bit of a flurry when Montell was doing well. Can you tell us your perspective of that conversation based on what you were saying?

JONES: Yeah, he basically confirmed what I thought already. He told me basically, “If it looks like you’re doing good with him, if he gets you in any kind of trouble they’re going to stop it”. Why would I take that? He was like, “Don’t go over there unless you have to” and I didn’t have to, because I was the man. So I don’t have to go to him. He needs to come to me. He never reached the top pound for pound best list. I did. So if I’m on top of the list, you need to come see me. I don’t need to go see you. It’s not anything against Germany, but I had enough of that in Seoul, Korea. Then in Australia when they let him use the hand wraps on me. So what can I do? I’m not going to keep going to places like that. I’m going to go where I think I can be treated fairly. Sometimes in Germany I don’t think you always get fair decisions so I’m not going to go there. You don’t always get good decisions in the United States either, but at least in my home I know I could go to court or something. Over there I know I basically don’t have a chance.

CIANI: Before you were on top of the pound for pound charts, James Toney was, and it was one of the few fights you entered as an underdog and it was a fight to this day that I think a lot of fans cite as possibly your best performance in a great Hall of Fame career. Can you tell us about that fight and whether you thought that fight would be as easy as it appeared from a fan’s perspective?

JONES: It’s simple It’s just like I told you before. I said that if I had a good rival, that was my rival but I beat him up so bad that he didn’t look like a rival. I expected it to be just like what it was because I knew I was that much better than James Toney. I was watching James Toney copying things I did in his next fight. After watching me fight, he was copying it and doing it in his fight. So therefore he knew a lot more of me than he let on or he wouldn’t be copying me. So at that point I knew I pretty much had the beat on him. It was just a matter of me getting in the ring and doing it. Secondly, that was my rival but I beat him up so bad that he didn’t want to do it again, and really people didn’t care to see it again because it was such a blowout. People say I didn’t have a rival—yes I did. He was there. It was just that I blew him out so bad that people didn’t want to it anymore. I went on to do bigger and better like God intended for me. I thought that was one of the best performances I ever had and it was also against one of the best fighters I ever fought because James Toney, to me, is still pound for pound one of the best fighters that ever lived and he’s probably one of the better fighters that ever fought.

JENNA: Now earlier you mentioned briefly about you winning the heavyweight title. I want to talk about that move that you made. You made the move from 175 up to the heavyweight limit, or actually a little bit under when you fought at 199. Can you tell us a little bit about that fight with John Ruiz?

JONES: Yeah, it was a fight that I was long looking forward to fighting. I mean I never thought of winning the heavyweight title until I woke up from having a dream one night. I guess God was letting me know that he wanted me to go do that. So I was like, “Wow, I can fight Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight title”. I tried to fight Evander and he didn’t want to do it, but then he lost to Ruiz and Ruiz is like, “I’ll fight you”. “Really?” “Yeah”. So I knew he was taking me lightly. I knew he was thinking like Margarito. He was thinking the small guy can’t hurt him, and we saw how with Pacquiao, Margarito found out the small guy can hurt you and so did John Ruiz. But loved the fight because I knew he wasn’t expecting that I could hurt him and he was taking me lightly, and I would be able to teach him a lesson and that’s exactly what I did.

JENNA: Seeing as you went up from light heavyweight to heavyweight, a guy that you fought before, Antonio Tarver, is making that same journey. What did you think of his only fight so far against Nagy Aguilera?

JONES: I mean it was a decent fight, but it was a decent fight against an opponent that really wasn’t supposed to put you to the test. He didn’t really fight until the last round, and most people think he won that last round when he did decide to fight, so who knows. He has to show me something against a true opponent, not against somebody like that guy.

JENNA: Roy when you won the heavyweight title, there was so much talk and so many possibilities with what you could do at that weight class. Why is it you decided to move back down to 175 instead of trying to pursue a match-up with Lennox Lewis who at the time was the heavyweight king?

JONES: After I tried to pursue a match with Mike Tyson, I didn’t know if Lennox Lewis was interested so I didn’t bother him. I think the really big fight for me at that time was Mike Tyson. He didn’t want to do it at the time because he had other things going on, so I knew that at some point after I won the heavyweight title, that at some point to do what Bob Fitzsimmons did—who was the other man who won the middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight title. To complete what he did, you had to come back and recapture the light heavyweight title. If you didn’t do that then you didn’t prove you were a legitimate light heavyweight who won the heavyweight title. Do you understand where I’m coming from? So I knew at some point I was going to come down and regain t he light heavyweight title, otherwise I didn’t do what Bob Fitzsimmons did. Then people would have said that yeah I won it, but I still didn’t do what bob Fitzsimmons did. After he lost it, he went back down and regained the light heavyweight title to prove that he wasn’t a legitimate heavyweight. That’s what I had to go back and do, and that’s just how I am. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it all the way. If I’m not going to do it all the way, I’m not going to do it.

JENNA: Now you beat him by a close decision. I actually thought it was a very gutsy performance because you battled it out in the later rounds. You were a guy that throughout your career wasn’t touched that much in the ring. In the rematch, Antonio Tarver landed a good left hand on you. What went on in that fight?

JONES: Yeah, the referee counted to ten and said that’s it. (laughs) That’s about all. He caught me with a good shot. I never saw the shot coming and that’s what it was. He didn’t see it coming. He had his eyes close and didn’t know he was throwing it, so it’s all good.

JENNA: Do you at all regret coming back so early from that knockout loss and taking on Glen Johnson?

JONES: Yeah, I do sometimes but me being the warrior that I am, like I told you if I had a rival that gave me a hard time, God knows I would never have considered the heavyweight title because I would have fought that rival every time. I would have wanted to fight that same person every time I can. We would have fought over and over and over and over again. That’s why I never would have gotten in the history books because I never would have let go of fighting my rival long enough to try and do something else.

CIANI: I wanted to go back to Adamek for a minute here, Roy. I’m curious, because he started off as a light heavyweight and he moved up to cruiserweight and had success there. Are you surprised at all that he’s had the type of success he’s had since moving up to heavyweight?

JONES: No. He’s a hard working guy. He was a very good light heavyweight, and he was a very good cruiserweight, and now he’s a very good heavyweight. So I’m not surprised at all.

CIANI: Now I actually saw you and Adamek shake hands and hug briefly at Judah-Matthyysse, when I’m assuming you mentioned news of that fight came up. Getting yourself prepared to go back to heavyweight, assuming you did fight Adamek this spring for argument’s sake, what kind of weight would you be looking to enter the ring at this time around?

JONES: Same weight as last time, around 200 pounds. I won’t need much more than that.

CIANI: Okay, at this point Roy, what would you ultimately like to accomplish in boxing before all is said and done as a fighter?

JONES: Two goals I got. Whichever one comes first. Personally I’d like to regain the heavyweight title one more time, but at the same time getting the cruiserweight title is not beyond my reach and that is something that would make me a five division champion and I would probably call it a day. So whichever one comes first, then I’ll call it a day.

CIANI: Now to this point in your career, if you had one big regret that you wish you could do a little differently, what would it be?

JONES: I probably would have played baseball instead of boxing. It’s a lot easier on your head. (laughs)

CIANI: Well Roy, what are some of the other fights out there right now from a fan’s perspective—what fights out there are you excited about seeing, and what fights that maybe aren’t made yet would you most like to see get made soon?

JONES: Of course I’d like to see Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao. Shane Mosley and Pacquiao would be interesting. Pacquiao-Cotto II would be interesting. Andre Ward against pretty much anybody would be interesting. Him and Glen Johnson would be interesting. Glen Johnson versus Arthur Abraham would be interesting. Andre Ward versus Arthur Abraham would be interesting. There are several fights in the 168 pound division that are very interesting to me, and the 140 pound division. That’s a very interesting division. There are a lot of good fights that can happen there. With promoters being like they are and situations with the television networks, it’s kind of tough for a lot of those fights to happen, but hopefully something will give and they will be able to start making boxing far more enjoyable again.

CIANI: Now you mentioned Andre Ward. I want to ask you about him. He reminds me of a younger version of an older Bernard Hopkins if that makes sense. I think Andre Ward is the real deal and that he has a bright future as a pound for pound great in the sport. Am I right about him or wrong about him in your view?

JONES: You’re definitely right about him. I think he’s one of the best fighters out there right now and I think he has a very bright future in the sport.

CIANI: Going back in time, the 1988 Olympics—can you tell the fans a little bit about what you were feeling when you heard the decision?

JONES: It was a gut wrenching feeling. It was a feeling that I did all that time and sacrificing for nothing. I felt really, really bad at the time. I feel like I wasted all my time fighting amateur boxing to go represent my country for nothing, because look what happened to me at the end. A couple of things that I realized is that God is so amazing because God can take what you think was the worst thing that ever happened to you and turn it into the best thing that ever happened to you. If you always once again stay faithful, never lose faith and never stop believing, because when God does things although it seems like it’s bad, God can turn it into a really, really positive thing and that was the best things that ever happened to me in my life. So I have to look at it from a totally different perspective. I learned about the Lord, a lot about how powerful he is, and how miraculous he can be because who else could take something that negative and turn it into the biggest positive that ever happened in your life?

CIANI: That’s interesting. So are you saying in a way that if you got the decision that you deserved and won the Gold that maybe you would have been less inspired?

JONES: It never would have turned out the way it was in the end. I would have never turned out to be the Roy Jones I am today, but God knew me better than I know myself. God knows my heart, my desires, my strengths, my weaknesses; he knows what makes me tick way more than I do. So God put me in a position to make me get up off my behind and show the world what I really could be, because had I won a Gold Medal I might have sat on my behind and never became anything. Or some people like that just lose their drive. A perfect example is a guy named Paul Williams, who I thought was going to be the next big thing in the 147 pound division but he got in some situations and it never happened because he didn’t have anything to really make him drive hard enough to get there, but he really had all the talent in the world. I thought there was no way you could miss with this kid.

JENNA: Alright now Roy, we have just a couple of more questions before we let you off the line. You mentioned before that the fight you really want to see is Mayweather versus Pacquiao. If you had to pick one right now who you think would win that fight, who would it be?

JONES: Right now, I don’t know. It’s a tough situation. It’s tough on the call. In truth, I like Floyd Mayweather’s boxing skills more, but I like Manny Pacquiao’s heart and determination more. So right now I would probably go with the heart and determination, so I might go towards Pacquiao right now.

JENNA: What do you think of the people that criticize Floyd saying that he is avoiding a match-up with Pacquiao due to his fear of losing?

JONES: I don’t know. I wouldn’t call it a fear of losing, but like I said, when a guy has everything you can’t really force him to do something you want him to do. He’s got to have a reason for why he wants a reason. That’s not what makes me think anything bad about him, however, something has to be wrong. Not wrong, but people are different. With me, I couldn’t. If I want to fight you and I think I’m better than you, I want to fight you right now. That’s just how I am, but everybody doesn’t think like me so I can’t criticize Floyd for not doing things the way I do them. That’s just how Roy Jones does it. Everybody doesn’t think like Roy Jones thinks. You understand where I’m coming from? So he has his own reasons in his own mind as to why he’s waiting and hesitating and taking his time. When he’s ready, I’m sure he will. We don’t know the reasons for that and I’m sure he has his reasons. I haven’t talked to him or asked him. So I can’t say anything. For people who criticize him, you can’t really criticize a guy until you’ve been put in his shoes. If you don’t understand the whole thing, the fact of the matter reminds he is still out there as one of the best pound for pound kings, and until that fight happens we’ll see.

JENNA: Roy when you look back at your career, what do you consider to be your best performance?

JONES: I’ve got two of them. Montel Griffin II, and I got three of them—James Toney, and John Ruiz. Those are probably my best three performances, but the Montell Griffin II definitely was probably my best.

JENNA: Alright now if these fights against David Haye and Tomasz Adamek don’t pan out, where do you see yourself going?

JONES: I’ll probably go after a cruiserweight title and then call it a day.

JENNA: Alright Roy, well I have one final question. Is there anything you want to say to all your fans out there?

JONES: Thank you all my fans for supporting me. Thank you all for being there for me, for always keeping up with me and checking in on me. The positive things that you guys say to me are the things that keep me going and make me tick. I really appreciate the love that you all have shown me throughout my career. I just want to take this time and say to you all that I was simply an instrument that God used to play his music through to show you guys what God could do. I hope you all got the point. I hope you all understand my fully. I hope you all understand that if I don’t think I ain’t going in. So thank you for supporting me and God bless you all.

JENNA: Thank you very much Roy. It was a pleasure speaking to you. We wish you all the best in your future.

JONES: Thank you.

CIANI: Thanks Roy. Good luck.

JONES: Thank you.

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For those interested in listening to the Roy Jones Junior interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and twelve minutes into the program.

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