Monday, December 14, 2015

More than just the latest of the greatest to fall

This past Saturday night the eyes of the combat sports world, including my own, were on the biggest fight of the weekend. That’s when Conor McGregor knocked out former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Aldo was considered the pound for pound top MMA fighter in the world and had not lost a fight in over 10 years. However in the fight game there is one fact and that is if you hang around long enough, someone always has your number.

That fact holds true for arguably the greatest fighter that has ever lived and clearly the greatest fighter I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. His name is Roy Jones, Jr. (62-9, 45 KO’s) and he too fought this past Saturday, yet nobody knew, including me. That’s because although I knew Roy had fattened up his record the last four years with an eight fight win streak against relative club fighters, I figured his previous fight in September 2014 was his last.

Who wouldn’t figure that? He’s 46 years old, already had a legendary career and these days, the only time anyone saw him near a ring it was as an analyst for HBO Boxing. However, part of what made Roy Jones so great is also what is slowly, but surely hurting him and his legacy. Roy Jones, Jr. always walked to the beat of his own drum and sadly that walk is starting to skip beats.

This past Saturday night, Jones got knocked out brutally in the fourth round against former cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli (41-7, 33 KO’s) in Moscow, Russia of all places. That is because he cannot get medically sanctioned to fight in the U.S. Video of this brutal KO has spread like wildfire on the Internet and for me to see it hurt me. That is because we are talking about one of the all-time greatest to ever lace up gloves in the ring, looking like a shell of his former self. That video is also what compelled me to write this piece.

There is a generation today that does not even know who Roy Jones, Jr. is, let alone was. For them, they think Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is the greatest to ever do it, and all respect due to Floyd, he is one of them. However, regardless of what Floyd tells you or what you may think, I’m here to let you know that Floyd in his prime and on his best day couldn’t hold a candle to Roy Jones, Jr. in his prime.

For those that think that I am saying a lot, it’s not; believe me. Roy Jones, Jr. was that nice! Let’s understand what I am talking about here. I’m talking about the perfect combination of speed, power, defense and ring generalship I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. If you actually think Floyd Mayweather is fast, he would’ve gotten hit with a five-punch combination from Roy Jones, Jr. in his prime before he could react. Think about that for a second.

Some may think I’m over hyping Roy Jones, but once again, I’m not talking about Jones today or even the last 10 years. I’m talking about the undisputed greatest fighter of a decade, the ‘90’s, and a multi-division champion that won titles from middleweight to heavyweight. Yes, Jones went from 160 lbs. all the way up to win a heavyweight title against a legit heavyweight in John Ruiz.

Ultimately that move would be the beginning of the end as well because after winning that heavyweight title, he had to shed all that weight to come back to 175 lbs, and defend his light heavyweight title.  He did so successfully in his first fight against Antonio ‘Magic Man’ Tarver, however it was barely by a majority decision. So when Tarver demanded a rematch and knocked Jones out cold in the second round, it was not only a shock, but nobody really knew what the ramifications of that move to heavyweight had done to him.

However, we should have known when the same thing happened four months later against Glen Johnson. Jones went from being unbeatable and untouchable, to getting knocked unconscious in two successive fights within four months.

That was back in 2004 and that should’ve signaled the end then, but Jones fought on. 18 more times to be exact compiling a record of 13-5 over the last 11 years. That may be okay for some, but for arguably the greatest boxer that ever lived, it’s sad, especially considering the competition. In those five losses, he’s also experienced three other vicious knockouts that have left him unconscious face first in the ring.

As a fan, I can only hope he never fights again. He’s actually really good as a boxing analyst on HBO and has a great chemistry with that broadcast team along with Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley. Yet more importantly, I want people that know to remember and people that don’t to recognize, Roy Jones, Jr. is not just the greatest to the latest to fall, he was and still is the greatest fighter I’ve ever seen in the squared circle.

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