By Scoop Malinowski
One of the greatest champions in boxing history has decided to hand up the gloves for the final time.
The career of Roy Jones Jr. is over now but for those millions of us who had the pleasure to watch him compete, the memories will continue to sparkle in our minds.
The kid from Pensacola, FL was as extraordinary as a UFO blazing across the sky at midnight. Built like a mini Hercules, “Super Roy” as Don King liked to call him, this marvel could throw punches like a tornado. He was on another level from everybody else and it was never more evident than on the night of November 18, 1994 in Las Vegas when he reduced another all time great boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney to look like a sparring partner. It wasn’t a boxing match, it wasn’t a fight, it was an exhibition of incomparable human excellence. What Roy Jones Jr did to James Toney that night was one of the most impressive performances I have ever seen in the history of sport. Jones won the IBF Super Middleweight title that night.
I had a few personal memories of Roy that are unforgettable. In 1992 we did a Biofile interview on the phone and a few days later I received in the mail a Roy Jones Jr t-shirt which I still own though it’s faded from probably a few hundred wears.
The first image that comes to mind of Roy though, was outside the ring. Actually it was on the boardwalk in Atlantic City on a hot summer day in 1995 or 1996. It was on a Saturday, it was about 85 degrees, on the day of a big HBO fight card at the Boardwalk Hall. I saw a man sprinting down the boardwalk, as fast as a speeding bullet. It was Roy Jones Jr doing wind sprints on the boardwalk. Man, he would have beaten Usain Bolt that day in a race. And the other impressive aspect about it was I remember Roy did not even have a fight signed. He was not in training camp. He was working out on his own to stay sharp, stay in shape.
There obviously were many aspects of Roy Jones greatness. Yes, he was gifted. Yes, he had genetics. Yes, he was well-coached. Yes, he was intelligent and creative and could do anything with his fists. But most of all Roy Jones loved boxing and the dedication and sacrifice parts, which some greats struggle with once they reach the top.
Roy reached the stop and stayed there. From 1989 to earlier this year, Roy posted a strangely symmetrical pro record of 66-9 (47 KOs), including world titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight.
Like most all the all time greats, Roy Jones Jr. also suffered his fair share of humbling moments. A few years past his peak, at age 35 Jones was knocked out with one punch in the second round by Antonio Tarver in 2004. That loss must’ve cracked the Jones psyche because just four months later he was knocked out cold again by journeyman Glencoffe Johnson in Memphis.
There were still a few more highlights left though, like the impressive decision win over Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden in January 2008. And the thrilling loss a few months later to undefeated Joe Calzaghe.
Some ring observers will say the crowing moment of the Roy Jones Jr career was when he won a version of the heavyweight title in 2003 before over 15,000 fans. Weighing 193 pounds Roy outpointed John Ruiz, 226 pounds, in a fight that earned Roy over $10 million and drew over 600,000 pay per view buys. Jones had nine PPV fights total which totaled 3,178,000 total buys.
Born on January 16, 1969 in Pensacola, FL, Roy turned pro on May 6, 1989 with a two round win over Ricky Randall in Pensacola. His final fight was on February 8 of this year, a ten round decision win over Scott Sigmon in Pensacola, to win the WBU (German version) Cruiserweight title.
There were many defining moments in the career or Roy Jones. The combination of speed, power, originality and brutality he showed in wins against Vinny Pazienza, Toney, Bryant Brannon and Glen Kelly.
One more stylish Jones triumph stands out. Against Clinton Woods in Portland, Oregon, where Jones sang a song from his CD while entering the ring. He beat Woods by TKO 6 in 2002. Only Roy Jones Jr could pull off such a stunt.
Like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Ray Leonard, Manny Pacquiao, Roberto Duran and Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr. at his best was an electrifying, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, almost unreal sporting spectacle unlike any other.