When all-time boxing great Roy Jones Jr. was in his prime and the dominant No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world he did things in the ring that were almost supernatural.
His speed and reflexes were supreme, his power was concussive and he made moves that made people scratch their heads wondering if they had really seen what they had just seen.
At one point it was so hard for Jones to find a serious challenge that he had to challenge himself. So one time, about seven hours before defending his super middleweight world title against Eric Lucas in 1996, Jones played point guard in the Jacksonville Barracudas' victory in a United States Basketball League game. Then he knocked out Lucas in the 11th round of a one-sided fight.
That Jones is long gone, but those who saw him at his best surely won't forget it. But now, just a few weeks after turning 49 on Jan. 16, he is finally ready to hang up his gloves, years past his best days.
Jones will step into the ring for his 75th fight, which he says will be his final bout, when he faces journeyman Scott Sigmon (30-11-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Lynchburg, Virginia, in a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight bout Thursday night at the Pensacola Bay Center -- the same venue where he turned pro in 1989 -- in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida.
Jones (65-9, 47 KOs) is promising a knockout to end his career in style in front of the fans who have been with him from Day 1.
"I'm gonna figure out a way to get him out of there," Jones said this week.
The fight will headline a card that will include three boxing matches and two MMA fights. The full card will stream live beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on UFC's Fight Pass, which is offering a seven-day free trial. Jones-Sigmon is expected to begin at about 10:15 p.m. ET.
There are many who have called for Jones to retire for years but he elected to continue to box for more than a decade past his best days. But even Jones realized he couldn't fight forever.
"There are things I wanted to accomplish that I knew were no longer within my reach. I love boxing. Even out of my prime I love boxing like I did when I was champ. But you can't go on forever no matter how much you love it. It's time. I'm ready to say goodbye." Roy Jones Jr.
"After looking at the landscape, there's nothing big for me to fight for; nothing worth the time; nothing where I can make more history or an exceptional amount of money," Jones said. "So why keep doing it for the risk you're taking? The reward ain't worth it.
"There are things I wanted to accomplish that I knew were no longer within my reach. I love boxing. Even out of my prime I love boxing like I did when I was champ. But you can't go on forever no matter how much you love it. It's time. I'm ready to say goodbye."
As an amateur, Jones was outright robbed of a gold medal and settled for silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The judges were later found to have been corrupt.
How Roy Jones Jr. got robbed of a gold medal in 1988.
"We wuz robbed" is an old boxing expression. But not until the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul did people fully understood its meaning.
During his 29-year professional career, Jones became an all-time great. He won world titles in four weight classes -- middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight -- and became the first former middleweight world champion to win a heavyweight world title in more than 100 years when he rolled past John Ruiz in a lopsided decision victory to take a belt in 2003 in a fight that was the apex of his career.
From there it was mainly downhill. After barely escaping with a decision against Antonio Tarver when he returned to light heavyweight, Jones lost three fights in a row, a knockout to Tarver in the rematch, a brutal knockout to Glen Johnson and a lopsided decision to Tarver in their rubber match.
Jones' last big win came in 2008, when he outpointed the smaller Felix Trinidad, who had come out of retirement to fight Jones. Then Jones had his last truly meaningful fight later in 2008, when he challenged Joe Calzaghe for the lineal light heavyweight world title. Although Jones knocked Calzaghe down in the first round he lost a lopsided decision.
"The great thing today is it don't matter what anyone says or what anyone writes (because) you can type 'sickest boxing highlights' into YouTube or Google and you see Roy Jones Jr. doing this thing. Nobody can change your mind after you see that. That is pound-for-pound! I did what I did -- it happened -- it is a fact." Roy Jones Jr.
Jones went on to win several more fights against no-name opponents and also suffered some rough knockout losses, such as to Denis Lebedev and Enzo Maccarinelli. But Jones has won three fights in a row and has returned home to say goodbye.
"It feels different," Jones said. "I'm emotional even thinking about how I'm going to feel on the day. I'm almost tearing up talking. I'm worried about how I am going to feel all day of the fight. I may be crying all day, but once I am in the ring I'll have to put those tears away because there's gonna be a guy in the other corner looking to beat me. Scott Sigmon won't care about those tears. He cares about getting the win. That's the reality.
"I turned professional in May 1989 in this same arena, but I've been doing this since 1979. In 39 years there's not been a single day where I didn't put on glove, skip, watch tape or spend time thinking about boxing. Boxing has been my life and it is my life. I've enjoyed every moment of it. So much of it is still fresh [in my mind]. Not one thing, but so much jumps out when I look back -- representing my country at the Olympics in 1988, becoming a world champion for the first time, becoming the No.1 pound-for-pound versus James Toney, winning the world heavyweight title. Like it was all yesterday."
Jones defeated a who's who of his time, including Bernard Hopkins to win a middleweight title, Toney to win a super middleweight belt, Vinny Pazienza, Mike McCallum, Montell Griffin, Virgil Hill, Lou Del Valle, Reggie Johnson, Eric Harding, Ruiz, Tarver and Trinidad.
From the time he defeated Toney in 1994 until Tarver knocked him out in their rematch in 2004 most viewed Jones as No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Jones' views the wins over Hopkins, Toney, Griffin and Ruiz as his biggest and reflected on each:
"It was a good fight for my first world title [in 1993]," Jones said of his first fight with Hopkins, who he lost a decision to in a forgettable 2010 rematch. "The thing about that [first] fight was I just wanted to make sure I stayed smart and I stayed focused because one of the first goals in my life was to turn professional and become a world champion. I felt a lot of pressure on my back because this was what I'd worked so hard to do for all those years. I fought the fight with one hand due to injury, but I did what I needed to become world champion."
"I was already a [middleweight] world champion, but he was the boss. James Toney was 'the man' at that time," Jones said. "They were calling him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and to be the man you have to beat the man. I couldn't just get a win, I had to dominate him and show the world that not only was he not the best pound-for-pound, but there was no one else close to Roy Jones Jr. And that's what happened. I annihilated the man, dominated him. That was my coming-out party. I showed all my weapons in that fight. I showed everyone, no, hey, this is what the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world really looks like."
Jones lost his light heavyweight belt and suffered his first defeat to Griffin in a controversial ninth-round disqualification for hitting him when he was down in 1997. Jones destroyed him in the first round of the rematch five months later.
"Losing my undefeated record the way I did was really bad for me," Jones said. "Ya know, even though everybody who ever saw that thought it was wrong, my undefeated record was still gone. Done. They took my 'and 0' away and there was no getting it back. So the second fight came and I made sure to prove who was the better fighter."
Of the Ruiz fight, Jones said, "I wanted to be a world champion my whole life but I never once thought of the heavyweight title until it presented itself. This was something that God gave me, way and above more than I ever asked for or expected. It was the chance to make history, to do something nobody would dream of me doing. This was history -- the first fighter to jump from middleweight to win the heavyweight title in over 100 years [since Bob Fitzsimmons had 106 years earlier]. John Ruiz had no clue what he was dealing with or what he was facing. He found out the hard way."
Like all fighters -- all people -- age caught up with Jones, though he has accepted its ravages.
"I'm not sad to get older, we all get old. I had a great prime," Jones said. "I was good in my prime, ya know? I wasn't surprised that I was getting old, and that my abilities were getting more limited. Everybody knows everybody gets old, but I think some guys really don't think their body will get old. I accepted it. People told me to retire but I knew what I could do and I've never let anyone tell me what to do."
While there is now a generation of boxing fans who don't remember when Jones was the king, he believes history will be kind to him.
"The great thing today is it don't matter what anyone says or what anyone writes [because] you can type 'sickest boxing highlights' into YouTube or Google and you see Roy Jones Jr. doing this thing. Nobody can change your mind after you see that. That is pound-for-pound. I did what I did -- it happened -- it is a fact.
"Nobody else comes close. You can watch me side-by-side with anyone and it's not close. Floyd Mayweather was TBE [the best ever] at making money, but look at his highlights and look at mine. You can't pretend it's the same. You can't pretend there's ever been anyone comes close to doing what I did. Nobody you could name could touch me, and I'm talking about nobody who's around now, nobody who was around in my prime, and nobody who was around any time you can mention. In my prime, I was the ruler. Simple as that.
"I understand there's a lot of great fighters who've followed me already since I was the champ and I hope there's another who comes along [and] does even better because I want to see that. But I haven't seen anyone do what I did yet. I haven't seen anyone turn pro at 154 pounds and win the heavyweight championship of the world."
After thousands of rounds in the gym and in his fights, the countless miles of road work and decades of fighting, Jones said he is ready to move on with his life, which includes work as an HBO boxing commentator, promoter and trainer of young fighters.
"I'm at peace," Jones said. "I'm cool with it. I did this professionally for 29 years. That's a long time. I've had a great time."