Understanding the true dominance of Roy Jones Jr.
No introduction is needed for one of the true greats of boxing. Roy Jones Jr. ranks in many boxing fans’ top ten greatest lists. However, for the casual fan, the Olympic silver medallist’s story at the top is often left untold and ‘Captain Hook’ will remain relevant for the exhibition fight that took place in late November 2020 against Mike Tyson.
Prime Roy Jones was no joke, often a puzzle left unsolved.
The ability to throw the most explosive of hooks from every angle possessed Jones with an ability to strike whenever and however he wanted.
The First of Many
Jones is a former multiple world champion in four different weight classes and remains the only fighter in boxing history to start his professional career at light middleweight and go on to the heavyweight world title. He started his dominance of the middleweight division in May 1993, facing what would be one of the true greats of the sport, Bernard Hopkins.
Boxing his way to a unanimous decision victory, Jones became the IBF middleweight champ at the ripe age of 24-years-old and would defend the strap only once before he went on the hunt for more glory. Towards the end of 1994 he would make the step up to super-middleweight and claim possession of the IBF title yet again in a points victory over James Toney.
Can’t Be Touched
Having defended the super-middleweight crown multiple times, from early 1995 to late 1996, Jones went on a complete rampage and started to show the world who the hell he was. He smashed Vinny Pazienza in Atlantic City in six rounds with an outrageous six-punch combination that sucked the soul from Vinny. If you have ever seen the fight, then you know how obnoxiously brilliant it is.
Madison Square Garden became witness to the Jones show in January 1996 when the fighter from the Dominican Merqui Sosa dared to step toe to toe with Jones. The fight lasted two rounds and was most notably Roy Jones’ light-heavyweight debut in a bid to become a three-weight world champion in the future.
Sticking like glue to Sosa, the body shots sounded like a sledgehammer against the ribs. I don’t think anyone in the game at the time could bang quite like Jones did in the 90s.
The most ridiculous part of the beat down came just before the end of the first round when Jones kissed his right glove and proceeded to throw a bomb of an overhand right which crushed over the head of Sosa. After the referee saw enough in the second, the fight was over.
The Bounce Back
Roy Jones suffered his first loss of his career in what for many still has a bitter taste in the mouth scenario. In 1997, Jones now the WBC light heavyweight champion, took on Montell Griffin in his first defence. In the ninth, Jones knocked Griffin to the canvas but was subsequently disqualified after a two-punch combo landed upon Griffin whilst he was down.
Jones, robbed and cheated of his perfect record, ensured revenge would be settled just a few months later as he almost blasted Griffin out of the ring with a left hook. Griffin would get up, but he wouldn’t last for much longer as another swooping hook landed so clean it nearly stripped him of any life.
The revenge became the start of a legacy defining winning streak for Captain Hook. In just six years, Jones would go from 35-1 to 49-1, showing greatness alone.
In this time from 1997 to 2003, Jones would become a unified light heavyweight champion and staple his name as one of the greatest at that weight. With notable nights against Lou Del Valle, Reggie Johnson and Glen Kelly, Jones would hold the WBA, WBC, IBF, IBO, WBF (Federation), IBA and The Ring light heavyweight titles all at once.
Heavyweight Champion of the World
An offer was put on the table to Jones from Don King, a victory against John Ruiz would not only make him the heavyweight champ and $10 Million richer. It would cement his name in the history books. No brainer, right?
Jones weighed 33 pounds less than Ruiz, but never the less felt ready for one of the biggest nights of his career. The stage was set in the Thomas & Mack Center in Nevada on the 1st of March 2003. Jones later admitted that this fight was the only time in his career where he felt like he had already lost physiologically before the fight.
The first round underway, Ruiz leaped out of his corner to apply gruelling pressure onto Jones and ensure he felt his bigger physical presence in the ring. Jones was on the end of many low blows as Ruiz targeted the body in the early stages of the fight.
Still becoming accustomed to the new fighting weight, Jones was missing more than usual. In the third round after his confidence grew, Jones relied on the fundamentals of boxing to see him through. He threw more jabs in this fight than he had ever thrown before in his career.
By the halfway point and landing at will, Jones became so dominant in the fight that he could decide when and how he wanted to land on the chin of Ruiz. In a sense of shock to how the fight was playing out before them, Ruiz and his corner simply had no answer to the slick and stylish Roy Jones.
It is quite remarkable to witness Jones’ demeanour in the later rounds of the fight, Ruiz the bigger man by far and pressing Jones on the ropes, still managed to miss every punch he threw. Jones would then reinstate his distance in the middle of the ring and proceed to pick his shots with utter precision and class.
The final bell rang, and Jones would become victorious in a fight that predicted the outcome to be the opposite. Roy Jones Jr. was heavyweight champion of the world and $10 Million richer.
It is understood that the latter stages of Jones’ career could’ve been conducted better, nobody wants to such a great fighter keep on going when they just aren’t the same anymore. But Jones loved to fight, and did so until he was 49-years-old.
Even with the unnecessary defeats to Joe Calzaghe in 2008, Bernard Hopkins in 2010 and even Enzo Maccarinelli in 2015, we cannot forget the excellence of Jones. A fighter that never turned down an occasion to be against the odds and a fighter that always wanted to entertain.
The 1990s and 2000s boxing scene would not have been the same without the incredible Roy Jones Jr.