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Roy Jones Jr.: My legacy is set but I’m addicted to competition

16
Feb

The sharp edges are gone, replaced by more corpulent features. His face is far jowlier than most fight fans would like to remember him. He can snap his jab, though the consistency has faded into a fizzle through the years, and all we’re left with is a 48-year-old man in denial of what he is today.

Only Roy Jones Jr. doesn’t think that way. The future Hall of Famer doesn’t think he’s tarnishing his legacy by continuing on, doing things like taking on cruiserweight journeyman Bobby Gunn (21-6-1, 18 knockouts) on Friday at the Chase Center, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Jones (64-9, 46 KOs) says his legacy is set. He’s not the Jones of the 1990s, or even the 2000s, but he’s convinced himself that he can still compete.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the name Roy Jones Jr. would send the masses flying. Nine years ago, he filled up Madison Square Garden to beat Felix Trinidad. Now he’s reduced to fighting Gunn, a rugged guy whose chief acclaim is on the seedy, shadowy bare-knuckle circuit, in a venue that seats roughly 1,000.

“Gunn is a very tough dude, tough as nails, and is the kind of guy who will fight anyone, anywhere and at any time,” Jones said his staccato style. “I’m going to win. If you don’t fight guys like that you don’t challenge yourself. It’s why the guy Bernard Hopkins fought (Joe Smith Jr.) was a challenge. A guy like that is a coming to knock your block off, and you better prepare. If you know the guy is coming to get you, it’s why you properly prepare for him.

“I feel good, very good. I’m fighting this at cruiserweight, but I’m not fat. Believe me I’m not fat, even though one time I was a light heavyweight. I’m not fat, trust me.”

Jones says he always challenges himself.

“I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot, but I have to give it up to my idol, Muhammad Ali, he shocked the world, and when you can shock the world that’s the highest challenge you can take,” Jones said. “When the world starts to tell you that you can’t, then you stop. Look, Bernard Hopkins shocked the world when he went 12 rounds with Sergey Kovalev at 50-something years old. He didn’t win, but he shocked the world by going 12 rounds with ‘The Krusher.’ We have a natural instinct to shock the world, do something no one expects you to do.

“This guy Bobby Gunn is a bare-knuckle fighter who’s a puncher. No one thinks I can take a punch anymore. They don’t think I can go 12 rounds anymore. Do none of the things that I used to do, so I’m going to shock the world. Not only am I going to shock the world, I’m going to do it in the right kind of fashion. I’ve been boxing for 38 years and there is no other side of it.

“Bernard Hopkins went out that way against Joe Smith, and there was no other way Bernard was going to go out, unless he was forced out. I understand that. We’re fighters by trade. We fight. What if I don’t want to stop fighting? I have that right to continue.”

Some fans and media understand where Jones is coming from but no one wants to see a legend—and one of the really good guys in boxing—get hurt.

“I understand that,” Jones said. “I appreciate that. I won’t get hurt. The biggest thing for me was giving myself the proper time to recover after fights. I’m pacing myself. You get older, you get smarter.”

Over his last six fights, Jones is 5-1, the one setback being a four-round stoppage to former WBO cruiserweight titleholder Enzo Maccarinelli, in Moscow, Russia, in December 2015. Maccarinelli, by the way, stopped Gunn in one in April 2007. Jones’ five victories have come against a hodgepodge of nobodies. Vyron Phillips made his pro debut against Jones and was stopped in two rounds last March. A loser of nine-straight before tangling with Jones last August, Rodney Moore managed to go the full 10 with a fighter who once was considered owner of the fastest hands in boxing. Prior to fighting Maccarinelli, Jones finished Eric Watkins in six. Watkins had a 2-5-1 record over his last eight before he faced Jones.

Jones’ last meaningful victory was against previously undefeated Pawel Glazewski, on June 30, 2012. Jones was supposed to be “a name” to add on Glazewski’s resume, when the old man gave the Polish fighter a boxing lesson—in Lodz, Poland—winning a 10-round split-decision.

Does he worry about his legacy being tarnished?

“I’m addicted to competition,” Jones said. “When you’re young, you have more options. As you get older you become more appreciative of things. I used to fight with my hands down. I can’t do that anymore. It gives you a whole different motivation. I probably won’t retire until 2021. We’ll figure it out. Here’s the thing with my legacy. Barry Sanders never won a world championship in football. But to me, Barry Sanders is the best running back I ever laid eyes on. Just because you don’t have the title to prove it don’t mean a damned thing to me! To me, pound-for-pound, Barry Sanders is the best running back to ever run the football.

“You have to look at the hard, raw footage of my career. These things sometimes go forgotten. Go back and dissect it and break it down, like Barry Sanders, you will never see another running back do the things that Barry Sanders did. I don’t care who it is. People still want to see Roy Jones fight live, because they’re still going to see things that they’ve never seen in their lives before. As far as that legacy crap goes, as far as what people try and say, I can’t undo what I’ve already done. My legacy is set! That will never change.”

  • Paul

    Retire dude.

    • Sweet_Science_

      Definitely a first ballot Hof’er. I hoped he would start training fighter’s and then still be competing..just not as a fighter.
      He gave the sport a lot regardless of the ko losses in recent years. I like the work he does with Lampley and Kellerman on HBO. First guy in a 100 years to have been middle weight champ and also win a piece of the HW title. The legacy is set. I’m more worried about his health now a days. Yall must forgot lol

      • stafano

        He’s an excellent boxing Anyalst.

        • Sweet_Science_

          Absolutely. The guy is a legend. His insight into boxing is very valuable. Let’s just pray that he’s in good health after he retires whenever that will be.

          • stafano

            Hear, hear!

  • Jody Hanna

    So sad, seeing the remains of such a great fighter dragging himself into the ring years after he should have stopped.

    • Sweet_Science_

      Ya unfortunately he still has the desire to fight. It may take an athletic commission to stop him. Brutal stoppage losses are not a deterrent. It’s the commission’ fault for licensing him.

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    • mitch menendez

      Got a bad feeling about Roy, would hate to see him go out on his shield if you catch my drift

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    • Steven Know It All

      The Roy Jones of today is a ghost of him in his prime . It’s very sad to see him like this because young people getting into boxing will never know what he was like . I went to see him fight Enzo in Moscow Russia at the vtb areana and the way he went down was badly ! If he carries on fighting he’s going to get hurt . He’s got nothing more to prove . Any proper boxing fan knows he’s a legend !

  • stafano

    RJJ, is the most gifted boxer I’ve ever seen. The speed, the power, the reflexes, I’ve never seen such a talent. I first watched him as a 13yr old in 1988 when he was robbed of Gold a t the Seoul Olympics.
    If he had never boxed again after beating Ruiz in 2003. ( W48-L1-38KOs. 1989-2003. Only Loss A unfortunate DQ against Montell Griffin, brutally avenged via 1st round KO ) he would be now seen as one of the true boxing GODS. champ at 160lb, 168lb, 175lb and WBA Heavyweight champion.
    How things might have been.
    I just hope he gets out before a tragedy happens.

    • mitch menendez

      Agreed mate, by your timeline we’re the same age and I remember watching the robbery in Seoul, shit in his prime he was amazing to watch. Imagine trying to fight the guy, just too good!
      Although I get that he wants to compete these days the hard facts are that he can’t, and I just don’t see this ending well for him. I just hope we don’t see his literal demise on primetime

  • Jim Risley

    Old to soon, smart to late.

  • Charlie U.

    In his prime years, he would drop his hands all the time. He’d put him behind his back and fight like his roosters. His athleticism was extraordinary but he clearly relied on it way too much. He was already 34 by the time he fought Tarver and there was definitely a drop in his God given athletic ability that he was never able to compensate for in technical skill. He was always going to be athletic enough to beat a hugging, mugging, plodder like John Ruiz but, by that stage, Tarver was a different story. I can’t believe it’s been almost 14 years since the first Tarver fight and Roy is still fighting. Terrible.

    • Billy ray cyrus

      Tarver1 round 3 is one of my favorite rj highlights doing the “chicken” shit. The rooster stuff was just on a other level.

  • Joey Junger

    It could be more depressing, I guess. He could be wrestling in a loincloth, like Primo Carnera. He could be boxing in a booth on a midway pier, like Jack Johnson, parrying blows for dimes. But yeah, it is getting sad.

  • D Johnson

    The stubbornness that made these guys great fighters can also be their undoing.

  • Had Jones retired after winning the WBA Heavyweight belt against John Ruiz, he would have went down in history as one of the best pound for pound fighters ever. Up until that time, he was so fast and so hard to hit, he hardly lost rounds let alone fights. Of course, going down in history as an MMA fighter might be a better option these days… but that’s another story.

  • PrinceGian

    I know it has been said before but if only he’d retired after Ruiz. One can imagine what the accolades would have been” the greatest fighter since Sugar Ray Robinson” “the best P4P boxer of his era” etc. Even Mayweather would have been compared to him.

  • IanF69

    If anyone has earned the right to do what he likes, it’s Roy. He’s a born fighter, who, in his prime was the boxer everyone of us dreamed we could have been, or wanted to be. Cat like reflexes and fast accurate hands that had power. Footwork that only SRR could equal. He floated round the ring. If he needs to keep fighting until he too get punched out the ropes then I for one won’t knock him. Legend.

  • Giuseppe

    I do not find this sad. I think it’s great. Nothing better than someone choosing the terms by which they live. So many of us have those terms dictated for us. This isn’t sad. It’s great.

    • Julio

      You are spot on my friend. There is nothing the elicits more respect in my eyes that seeing someone claiming his right to live on his terms. If he gets hurt, so be it. And I mean that in a positive way.

      • Giuseppe

        I find the ‘pity’ for RJJ strange and in most cases false…. part of the weird culture we are in that needs ‘victims’ to feel sorry for. He is one of the best boxers of the last 30 years… loads of fans… great job… great house… a family… loves what he does… poor Roy Jones.

        • Julio

          We live in a culture in which people prefer to blindly follow the herd; scared to death to follow their own destiny. You can thank the powers that be for that.

  • Orca

    If you’d told me back in the late 90’s that Jones would still be fighting in 2017 (!) I simply wouldn’t have believed it. He seemed different from the others. The way that the G-man’s injuries affected him pointed to a man who would finish with boxing before boxing finished with him. What happened Roy? I know how hard it must be to walk away but enough is enough. He needs to be on the other side of the ropes with a headset on. It makes you appreciate the will of guys like Lennox Lewis to make the right call and stick with it. Roy should have made that call after the Ruiz fight or after the 1st Tarver fight. Would hate to see him at ringside years from now shuffling around, speaking with fans who, unable to understand him, just smile with admiration for who he used to be and feel pity for who he has become. I’d hate for that to happen. The man was special. His cape is frayed and full of holes. Hang it up Roy.

    • Julio

      I hear your worry, but, it is like when you are younger and your parents advise you not to get involved with certain people, or date certain women, you still go ahead and do it regardless. We need to recognize and exercise our right to make our own decisions, no matter the outcome. I like Roy and enjoyed his glorious prime, but if he wants to continue he has every incentive to do so. He is a grown man and is cognizant of what is at stake.

    • Ignition1

      “It makes you appreciate the will of guys like Lennox Lewis to make the right call and stick with it.”

      Definitely agree with that. My memories of fighters who have done that are way more positive than memories of fighters fighting way past their due date – those memories are tarnished and sad.

      I’m a big RJJ fan, but he says that his legacy is set. Yeah on paper it is, but every article that will be written about him in future will basically be – “He was a P4P legend and the fastest fighter on the planet dominating multiple weight classes. But then he got old, fought on for too long, got knocked out 5 times and spent the rest of his career fighting bums”

      What he’s ignoring is that what he’s doing now is also part of his legacy as much as all the stuff he did in the 90s. Does he REALLY want that? Is he REALLY after a challenge or just wants to make a bit more money? Only he knows.

  • louis butler

    Talking about legends or very good ones, I only remember Monzon, Hagler, Froch, Calzaghe, Lewis, perhaps DLH who quick at the right time without going back. Even great fighters like ali, Tyson, Leonard or even Robinson ( the best of all time ) stayed in the business too much. Maybe it’s something that even the best are often missing.

  • Cousin Strawberry

    Please Roy retire already, Roy will regret it when he gets older. Hang em up. I don’t think its for the $ since he has a gig at HBO.

  • Jayo2.0

    Somebody please stop him! Save what little dignity you have left, Roy. Stop embarrassing yourself and your fans. You’ve been squandering your legacy for years and your lowlights are overshadowing your highlights.

  • Jayo2.0

    Somebody please stop him! Save what little dignity you have left, Roy. Stop embarrassing yourself and your fans. You’ve been squandering your legacy for years and your lowlights are overshadowing your highlights.

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