De La Hoya Blog
Editor's note: The fact Roy Jones Jr., 40, is fighting Jeff Lacy this Saturday in Biloxi, Miss., and Bernard Hopkins is trying to make a fight for his 45th birthday in January prompted former fighter and President of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya to weigh in on whether fighters remain active too long. His conclusion? Depends on the fighter.
Roy Jones Jr. has been knocked out two times. All the wear and tear, the big fights he’s been in have taken a toll. You can see it; he’s not the same. The fighter will always be the last one to say I should quit and the first one to say I can still go one more round.
That’s why it sometimes takes fights like the one I had against Manny Pacquiao to make it clear: ‘Hey, it’s time to hang ’em up.’ In Roy’s case, I guess he’s so competitive that he wants to prove that he can still be the pound-for-pound champion of the world. Not to himself; he still thinks he’s the best. He wants to prove it to the fans once again. He doesn’t like the fact his name isn’t on that list.
This is when it gets really dangerous.
There are many more reasons fighters stay in the game too long. I’m not sure if it’s the case with Roy ÔÇª but financial reasons is one of them. Does he still have to fight to keep up his lifestyle, to pay the mortgage, to pay for the cars, to pay for all the land he owns in Florida? I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it can get dangerous.
Then you have fighters like Bernard Hopkins [a partner in Golden Boy]. We don’t know what to think of him; he’s in a league of his own. He’s going on 45 and can still compete with anybody in the Top 10. It’s mind-boggling. I attribute it to his great defensive skills over the years, to him being a true athlete. What I mean by that is he doesn’t smoke, drink or have bad habits.
When I say he doesn’t drink, I mean a single drop of alcohol. Even when he has dinner at a fancy restaurant and the chicken is marinated in wine sauce. He’ll go to the kitchen and tell the chef not to put alcohol in the chicken. That’s the type of athlete he is and why he’s still on top of his game.
I think what happened with Roy is he was fighting these guys who I don’t think were on his level and he was blowing them away with no problems, being the super athlete he is. He’d show off in front of millions of fans around the world. When he started facing the Glen Johnsons and the Antonio Tarvers of the world, though, that’s when he started having problems.
When he faced them, he wasn’t the youngest kid on the block anymore. Once you get older, obviously, your skills aren’t the same. With age, Roy started to lose his speed and timing. I think when he faced those top-level fighters, his skills had diminished just a bit and he was vulnerable. At the same time, I think he wanted to stay in front of them to show he can fight, that he had what it takes. I think he was kind of lured into a trap by the fans and media.
Roy was obviously very talented but people wanted to see him fight, to see what he could do. I’m sure the pressure probably got to him when he faced Johnson and Tarver. And we know what happened. That’s when he got hurt.
With Hopkins, he has his style and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’ll always have that style and continue to dominate whoever is in front of him. One thing about Hopkins: He’s an old-school fighter. He’ll do what’s best for him; nobody will ever change him.
I think Roy is still fighting because of his ego, from what I’ve heard. He really feels he can get back on top. And in this sport, you never know. I think the chances are very slim for Roy to get back to where he was 10 years ago, though.
It’s sad. You have those cases we read about all the time of great fighters who end up with nothing. I’m not saying Roy is heading down that path. There are signs, though, that indicate he might be going in that direction. As you keep fighting, you lose. Still, you say, ‘I can win the next one, I can still become champion.’ And your body keeps breaking down; you lose all the speed and power you had. Your abilities break down and then you’re left with nothing.
We don’t want to see that. Roy was one the greatest athletes of our time. We want the best for him. My advice to him would be this: Look, you’re doing this Jeff Lacy fight, which in my eyes and the eyes of many others you should win and probably look good. Then people will say, ‘Maybe he still has it.’ And they convince him to fight again.
I say win this fight and then call it a day because you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish. You’ll always be the great Roy Jones Jr.