On Saturday night, the great Roy Jones Jr. (62-9) was the recipient of one of the most brutal knockouts of his career against Cruiserweight contender Enzo Maccarinelli (33-7). It was very sad watching what was left of the legendary Jones in the ring that night. An overweight Jones was standing straight up, holding his hands low, while trading punches with the much bigger Maccarinelli. According to the commentators, Jones was doing the old “rope-a-dope” tactic, shooting straight rights and left hooks while being pinned against the ropes. In reality, Jones’ body is so broken down that he could no longer move laterally. His knees are shot from taking the abuse he withstood from his father.
As an amateur, Jones Sr. used to make his son run ten miles a day in the streets of Pensacola, Florida. If Jones was the last kid to come back from doing his road work, he paid a heavy price through physical abuse. Because of the condition of his knees, running is no longer an option to get in shape for fights at this stage of his career. Due to Jones’ deteriorating knees, his legs were so straight in his last fight that it appeared he was fighting on stilts. A boxer cannot punch effectively or get out-of-the-way of punches if his legs are not able to able to bend or function properly.
Jones was knocked out with a right uppercut to the head and a vicious right hook to the temple. The heavy blows dropped Jones like a ton of bricks, flat on his stomach. Eventually, he rolled over on his back, eyes closed, with slight movement to his legs. However, his legs looked as if he was having involuntary leg spasms. It was a sight seen way too often in the hall of fame career of the great Jones. The jerky movement was eerily familiar to when Jones was knocked out cold by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in 2004. Most fighters would have walked away from boxing after sustaining such traumatic knockouts. Jones has had 21 additional professional fights since.
Jones has fallen victim to staying in one of the most unforgiving sports on the planet far beyond what he should have. I have seen the rise and fall all too often in World Champions. World Champions such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De Lay Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, it is very rare to see a fighter go out on top like Lennox Lewis or Joe Calzaghe. It is even more rare to see an old fighter such as George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins succeed in the twilight of their career.
Growing up I was in awe of the Jones. The speed, quickness, and power was unlike anyone I have seen put on a pair of boxing gloves. Jones dominated the 90s, and it seemed like there was no one worthy of challenging him. Boxing pundits used to say that Jones fought in the wrong era of boxing due to the lack of competition. It was unheard of for a man to go from winning the middleweight championship of the world, to winning the heavyweight championship of the world, along with every world title in between. Every title except, the Cruiserweight title.
In a very touching article written by Brin-Jonathan Butler, Jones was asked when enough was enough regarding his accomplishments in the ring. Jones said,”Cruiserweight title. Nobody in history has won all the titles I’ve won and the cruiserweight title. I’d be the only man in history. That’s when you die and go to heaven, and God can look at you and know you did everything with the gifts he gave you. If I died today, could I really say that? If I stopped fighting, could I live the rest of my life knowing I didn’t do everything I was put here to do?”
Jones should have went out on top in 2003 when he defeated Heavyweight Champion John Ruiz. I remember seeing how fast he worked the jab against Ruiz. The speed of his hands and feet was a work of art. Ruiz couldn’t touch the man. When Jones won that fight, he cemented his legacy in boxing. But like many boxers, he was lured back into the sport. He then felt his accomplishments were not enough.
I hope Jones will not be remembered as the man who stayed in the ring way too long, lying unconscious on the canvas. Budd Schulberg wrote, “Old fighters don’t fade away. They slowly die in front of our eyes.” I’m tired of seeing Jones die in front of my eyes along with everyone else that is close to him. In 2006 Jones, made his rap debut with, “Ya’ll must have forgot,” reminding the public of all of his accomplishments in the ring. One thing is for sure. I do not think I will ever forget.