Monday, July 31, 2006
Pound for Pound
In his time he was called 'pound for pound the best boxer ever'. He had the speed of fighters twenty pounds lighter and the strength of fighters twenty pounds heavier. But it was his technical boxing skills that earned him the right to rank himself with the immortals of boxing: Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, Muhammad Ali, Pernell Whitaker and Floyd Patterson.
He was the first middleweight champion in over one hundred years to capture the heavyweight title. He beat John Ruiz for the heavyweight crown - not with his strength, but with his mastery of the fine art of the sweet science. "Every time I saw him lean forward to throw that big right, I used my left jab to keep him off balance", he said after winning an unanimous decision over Ruiz, "He had to get on the ball of his foot in order to throw that punch, and I knew a jab to his forehead every time he started to get on that toe would be the perfect punch."
Roy Jones was lightning fast, arrogant and supremely talented. He fought at a time when there were no fighters of his division with equal talent. In order for a champ to really be called the best he has to fight the best - in his defense there were no great fighters in the light heavyweight division. He walked through Virgil Hill, David Telesco, Montell Griffin, James Toney and many others.
So bored was he with his competition that he joined a semi-pro basketball team and played basketball games the same day as a fight.
And then there were the forays into music: He should've stuck with boxing, but you know how rich men are, they believe they can do anything and be successful at it. Whatever.
So bored was Roy Jones with his competition that he took on any fight he could just to make a buck and show his skills. He fought bartenders, garbage men, phone guys, cops and mechanics. Jones wanted to give the people their monies worth. He'd lay on the ropes and invite his opponent to hit him. He'd dance in the ring. He took rounds off to allow his opponents to catch up with him. He'd have a concert before the fight and once, he rapped his way down the aisle to the ring.
That all changed one night when a man that many thought didn't have a snowballs chance in Satan's kitchen, of really beating Roy. But this man wasn't like any opponent Roy had ever faced: He was the same age and from the same state as Roy, but had been overlooked for all of his professional career.
Referee: Do you have any questions before the fight starts?
Tarver: Yeah, I have one. What excuse are you gonna use tonight, Roy?
And with that said, the Titan was about to be revealed as a mere mortal. BAM to the canvas Jones went in their second fight. The world of boxing was flipped on its axis. The giant is no more.
And then the same thing happened again with a man named Glenn Johnson: BAM to the canvas he went again, this time he was out like a pair of parachute pants.
What happened to Roy Jones Jr? Was it age? Or was it an accumulation of lackluster ambition and performances that dulled his sharp skillz? Roy Jones will go down in the history books as technically the greatest boxer ever. Not the greatest boxer ever, or one of the greatest boxers ever , but the greatest technical boxer ever.
He had no great fights to measure him by. Ali had Frazier, Foreman, Liston, Patterson, Shavers and Norton. Sugar Ray Robinson had more epic battles with Jake Lamotta than most fighters have in a lifetime. Joe Louis had Schmelling and Baer. Hagler had Hearns, Leonard and Mugabe. Who did Jones fight?