Ahhh, March Badness. When boxing and MMA mixed cards become the standard (humor me), we will look back on this night and say, "That. That is what the people wanted -- nay! It is what the people demanded."
Do you like overblown commentators describing action that isn't there? Saying it must be that the crowd of MMA fans don't know good boxing? Sure, we all do!
Hey, do you like bad judges? Why am I even asking?! Who doesn't?!
How about terrible, indefensible stoppages from usually-great referees? Oh, well that'd be icing on the cake.
And at the end of the night, do we get to pretend that a once-great fighter needs to get back in the ring with legitimate competition and risk getting seriously damaged? Duh!
Bottom line: If you went into this show as an MMA fan that didn't much care for boxing, your mind did not change. And that's the same for boxing fans that didn't much care for MMA. The idea was nice. But I said when this card became serious that this was nothing more than a Roy Jones showcase where he was booking an unqualified, non-threatening opponent in order to audition for another big fight. And in the end, that's all it was.
Jones (53-5, 39 KO) got his first stoppage win since he wailed on Clinton Woods six and a half years ago when referee Tommy Kimmons stepped in to stop a fairly one-sided fight where Sheika (27-9, 18 KO) wasn't getting hurt. Yeah, Sheika was being hit clean. He was never once deterred or backed down. When Kimmons stopped the fight, Sheika was perplexed. I was, too. But this is what Pensacola wanted. This is what Jones wanted. This is why this fight took place.
No, I'm not saying "the fix" was in. But it was a very early hook pulled on a guy that was defending himself. Frankly, Sheika seemed more than comfortable to find an opening while Jones hot-dogged around the ring at 40 years old with no zip behind his punches.
This was a lot like the Tito Trinidad fight for Roy. He was comfortable because he knew he couldn't lose, so he shimmied, and he did his wiggles and his taunting and his other assorted crowd-pleasing bunch of crap. It's nice. It's cute. It delighted Pensacola, and the fans down there turned out and were electric for a lot of the show (though they loathed BJ Flores' borefest win over Jose Luis Herrera, and they weren't much kinder to the grappling contest between Jeff Monson and Roy Nelson in the MMA main event).
But it doesn't change anything.
It doesn't change that Roy Jones is a 40-year old fighter who looks every bit like a 40-year old fighter. Like I said in the Tito Trinidad fight, and was discussed in the fight thread tonight, it was like watching an old guy without the skills imitate Roy Jones. It's sad. This doofy win over Omar Sheika does not erase Jones' overwhelming loss to Joe Calzaghe last November, when Calzaghe gave Jones the second-worst beating of his entire career, trailing only the beatdown that Glen Johnson gave him.
Nothing new was learned. When Johnson knocked Jones out in 2004, people started saying he should retire. They were right. Five years later, nothing Jones has done -- a second loss to Antonio Tarver, four wins over inferior opponents and the Calzaghe debacle -- has proven those people wrong.
He should retire. He should have retired already. I love Roy Jones. I'm a huge fan. But this is getting downright sad to watch. Hey, if he wants to fight on against guys like Sheika and Prince Badi Ajamu and old, washed-up, blown-up welterweights, all the power in the world to him. Hope he makes a decent living. Hope he doesn't get hurt.
But this is nowhere close to a world-class fighter any longer. Just because he shimmies doesn't mean he's "back." The vintage Roy hasn't been seen since since his win over John Ruiz. He will never be seen again.
In other fights on the card:
- BJ Flores outpointed Jose Luis Herrera. Boring fight. Col. Bob Sheridan, veteran play-by-play man, explained that the crowd booed because they didn't understand just what a really good boxing fight this was. That's a load. It was a dull fight and Sheridan is the ultimate biased apologist. To Bob's credit, he's capable and enthusiastic, and he was the right guy for the job tonight since he knows the MMA game fairly well, too. But his biases are just absurd.
- As an aside, overall I thought the commentary was solid. Sheridan seriously got on my nerves during the Flores stinker, but other than that he worked well with both Campbell and Petruzelli, and the card never felt third-rate, as it could have with lesser commentators.
- Square Ring "prospect" Kieyon Bussey of Pensacola improved to 6-0 with a six-round decision win over pro opponent Robert LaDuz. The problem is that LaDuz clearly deserved the win and even Sheridan and Nate Campbell weren't buying this load. Prospect Bussey is 34 years old, by the way. Honestly, I'm not sure why Square Ring shoe-horned this fight onto the card in the downtime. To show everyone an example of grotesquely bad judging?
- Jeff Monson outpointed Roy Nelson in the night's MMA main event. Everyone here, Sheridan and Seth Petruzelli thought Nelson won the fight. C'est la vie!
- Din Thomas scored the KO of the night with a stoppage of Gabe Lemley in the best of the night's MMA fights.
- Bobby Lashley outpointed Jason Guida in a long, intensely dull heavyweight MMA bout. Lashley is learning on the job and Guida has one notable skill: making other guys look bad.
- Dennis Hallman submitted Danny Ruiz with a rear naked choke in the opening bout of the night.
I think it's impossible to say I'm disappointed with this show. I knew what we were getting. It didn't rock me that Sheridan was biased, that the Jones fight was exactly what anyone with a realistic outlook who has seen Jones in the last five years would expect, or that Sheika simply didn't belong in the ring with Jones after 17 months off and one fight since 2005. The MMA was your standard non-major promotion MMA. The boxing was your standard showcase fights, one for an old man hanging on, one for a guy who talks a nice game about fighting anyone and instead fights guys like Herrera and Matt Hicks.
It was nothing unexpected. It stunk. It was always going to stink.
If only Ken Shamrock had been there to save it...