Roy Jones Jr.
Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight… Roy Jones Jr. is the first man in history who can lay claim to having held titles at all these weight classes. While the great Bob Fitzsimmons moved between classes and achieved success in 1897, Jones is the only boxer of the modern era to achieve so highly. There has however, always been a degree of controversy over Roy Jones Jr. The Boxing Writer’s Association of America named him fighter of the Decade in the 1990’s and he regularly graces the pages of various publications as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time. However, criticism has been evident and some argue that a conscious effort has been made by his team to avoid some of the big hitters in the various weight classes, for fear of ruining the enigma and PR machine that is Roy Jones Jr. Whatever your view, the man known as “The Roy” is certainly one of the best known names outside the pure heavyweights.
1988 Seoul Olympics
Born on January 16th 1969 in Pensacola Florida, Roy Jones Jr. built his initial reputation on the amateur circuit, before turning professional on the 6th May 1989. Boxing with an orthodox style, Jones’ pedigree was obvious early on and at the age of 10, boxing on the amateur circuit, he successfully defeated boys 4 years older than him on several occasions. Jones’ first brush with the big time was not unfortunately in happy sporting circumstances. He became known as the man robbed of his rightful crown as Olympic champion in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Fighting the Korean, Park Si-Hun, Jones fell foul of the judge’s favour and the Korean was awarded the decision 3-2. The IOC were petitioned to investigate this debacle, and the evidence does show a convincing and superior barrage of punches landed by Jones in every round. However, the decision remained and Jones will remain a silver medal holder.
Rather than being aggrieved by this, Jones was edified and continued fighting, making his debut in the professional arena, with his first fight against Ricky Randall. In front of a Florida home crowd, the Randall fight was over quickly – a second round Knockout victory was Jones’ first taste of professional success. “The Roy” continued his decimation of the opposition, winning his next 17 fights by KO or TKO. His professional record now stands at 55 fights – W-51, L-4, D-0 with 30 Knockouts. Despite being 38, Jones continues to fight, with his next bout scheduled for January 2008 against the Puerto Rican – Felix Trinidad.
Filling up the trophy cabinet
Roy Jones Jr.’s collection of world titles started with his fight against Bernard Hopkins on the 22nd May 1993, when he was crowned with the IBF Middleweight title. Hopkins, acknowledged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in his own right, lost to “The Roy” by unanimous decision, with all 3 judges scoring the fight 116-112 over the 12 rounds. On the 18th March 1995, Roy Jones Jr moved up the weight class to Super Middleweight, a move from 72.575kg to 76.204kg, and after a TKO of James Toney, was crowned IBF Super Middleweight champion. Jones followed up his victory with 6 solid defences, before again hopping up a weight class, fighting Mike Mcallum for the WBC Light-Heavyweight title. Mcallum went down in the 10th round and Jones won a convincing unanimous decision from the judges.
From 1989 to 1997, Roy Jones Jr remained undefeated. His defeat at the hands of Montell Griffin in March 1997 was by means of disqualification. The footage shows Griffin chased round the ring, by a fierce Jones. Griffin had fallen to one knee by the ropes and was caught with two late hooks by Jones, an instant disqualification in the boxing world. Keen to avenge his defeat, the re-match was scheduled for August the same year and in a masterful performance Griffin was knocked down after just 2m 31 seconds into the first round and Jones re-claimed the light-heavyweight title.
A series of defences followed, until in July 2001, Jones successfully united all the various Light-Heavyweight belts, in his defeats of Julio Cesar Gonzalez.
Jones’ defeat of John Ruiz in March 2003, finally cemented his position in the hall of the greats. Ruiz, who had 30lbs of weight on Jones, lost the fight by unanimous decision and Jones took the WBA title to much acclaim.
After the Ruiz fight, Jones moved back to light heavyweight, his most natural weight division, giving up any rights to the WBA heavyweight belt. Perhaps past his magnificent prime, Jones lost consecutive fights from 2004-2006 but has recently returned to his victorious ways. The one man to have the upperhand on Jones is Antonio Tarver, a Southpaw from Florida. The two men have now met on 3 separate occasions and Tarver holds the upper hand 2-1 over Jones.
Jones the showman
Always ballsy in the ring, Jones often showboats in front of his opponents but has not limited his career to the confines of the ropes. While little known in the UK, in the US Jones has recorded and released 2 albums and made a cameo appearance in The Matrix Reloaded as Captain Ballard. An avid sports fan and consummate all-rounder, one of the most controversial events of his career, and the source of much criticism, came in 1996 when Jones, about to fight future world champion Eric Lucas later that day, participated in a semi-pro basketball match that morning, scoring 6 points for Jacksonville Barracuda. However, perhaps the most contentious element of his life involves his involvement in cockfighting.
Jones has openly voiced his interest and involvement in the sport, much to the disgust of both animal rights groups and some of his sporting peers. In an event reminiscent of the 2 sport rivalry in Rocky III, Hulk Hogan has openly criticised Jones, saying that his involvement in cockfighting is despicable. With Jones remaining a huge draw, it will be interesting to see the next direction the Jones PR machine chooses to take.