Roy Jones Jr. - A living, breathing, slightly crazy boxing legend


The news that Roy Jones Jr. is planning on fighting in Liverpool in September was not a shock.

Jones turned professional in 1989, he has had 69 fights, he first won a world title in 1993 and the first proclamations that he was finished as a fighter were in 2003.

It is fair to argue that Jones has ruined his original legacy, the one where he was the best fighter in the world, and amazingly he has carved another as boxing's greatest survivor.

In 2003 Jones gained 19 pounds, perfected a beautiful plan and won the WBA heavyweight title with a stunning twelve-round masterclass against the champion, John Ruiz. It was flawless and a privilege to witness from the fourth row in Las Vegas.

At that time - and this is too often neglected - Ruiz was a good fighter, a heavyweight with a win against Evander Holyfield. However, once Ruiz, who was 33 pounds heavier, left his corner for the first round it was clear that Jones was operating at another level - forget the weight, forget the history books.

At that point the only blemish in the life and times of Roy Jones was the "bad moment" when he lashed out at Montell Griffin in 1997 and was disqualified; less than 130 days later, Jones knocked out Griffin in one round.

There was, I should add, a failed drug test and too many tales of dog and cock fighting for all of the talk to be idle. Jones certainly had an eclectic mix of friends and acquaintances and I saw that up close and personal one night in 1996.

Jones had just retired the old master Mike McCallum with a sublime display of boxing in Tampa. McCallum is a modern great, a champion that succeeded against the cruel odds in boxing, but in 1996 he was on the way out; Jones bamboozled him and dropped him with a counter - the brief knockdown happened a second after McCallum landed his best punch of the fight.

Anyway, in the changing room after the fight a procession of Florida's finest filed in to pay homage to Jones. There were a few Hell's Angels, a preacher or two, a policeman, a hustler or two, women from the church with their prayers and other assorted loyal friends. Jones, if I'm not mistaken, rode back to Pensacola, the town he put firmly on the boxing map, with all of his friends on a coach. He was the world's greatest fighter at that time but he was still Roy to the people that loved him.

During the last decade - the dark years - Jones has been in some horrible fights in different parts of the world. It has not been easy watching the defeats and often harder watching the wins. "I have lost some speed, I've still got the power and I still go on the offensive - that is what the fans all over the world want," Jones said in Liverpool last week.

Tickets for the fight with veteran Tony Moran, a local fighter with a record of endurance in brutal fights, on September 12 are selling well. I'm not surprised, Roy Jones is a living, breathing, slightly crazy boxing legend and watching him in the flesh is still worth the price of a ticket. I hope to be there, but I would prefer it if he were home and happy and retired.