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It’s too painful to watch this version of Jones

20
Mar

When I think of Roy Jones, I think of ridiculous speed and athletic ability.

The eight-time – yes, eight-time – world title holder and long-time pound-for-pound king never had classic technique but it didn’t matter. His God-given talent superseded everything else – including his opponents.

He was 49-1 before his decline and the one loss was a disqualification against Montell Griffin that he later avenged. Among his victims: young versions of Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, which says a lot. In essence, Jones was unbeatable for most of his career.

And he was something to behold.

No, he was never a warrior; he was always reticent to take punishment, particularly after witnessing what happened to ill-fated Gerald McClellan. For this reason, as well as spotty opposition, he wasn’t a favorite of some fans.

However, we all marveled at his blazing-fast hands and feet, which left almost all his opponents baffled and onlookers shaking their heads in amazement. Super middleweights and light heavyweights just aren’t supposed to be that fast.

He gave virtuoso performances, not the kind that had you cheering wildly but clapping enthusiastically out of respect for and awe of his unique talent.

Which is why it’s so painful to watch Jones now.

I had to turn away at times when he fought Joe Calzaghe in his last fight, in November. His face bloodied, taking quick, hard punches from his far-superior opponent, he became as helpless as so many of his opponents once were. That wasn’t Roy Jones in there, not even close.

He has nothing left, absolutely nothing, which is the inevitable fate of a fighter who relied almost exclusively on his speed and athletic ability. Once that goes, so goes the overwhelming advantage he had over his opponents.

And yet Jones continues to fight at 40.

He faces Omar Sheika, a one-time fringe contender who has fought once in 3¾ years, on Saturday night in Jones’ hometown of Pensacola, Fla. They’ll share the card, co-promoted by Jones, with Mixed Martial Arts bouts.

He said he fights on for the right reasons. “I do it because I love what I do,” he said at the final news conference on Wednesday.

More likely, he continues to fight to help build his promotional company, Square Ring Promotions. In other words, it’s about money. And what’s sadder than a faded star embarrassing himself in front of the world because he feels he has to?

He once commanded the attention of the boxing world because of his natural gifts. Now, he’s reduced to facing an inactive fighter who was only a step above mediocre at his best on a pay-per-view card that seems destined for utter failure.

I’ll probably buy the show because it’s my business. Otherwise, what’s the appeal?

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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