42-year-old Roy Jones Jr promised "new things" and the beginning of the greatest comeback in boxing history tonight in a club fight against Max Alexander, a semi-retired former super middleweight who hadn't fought in two years and was 0-5-1 in his last six fights.
There wasn't much new, though Jones claims that there was, and if this was the start of boxing's greatest comeback, it sure didn't look like it as Jones cruised to a laborious unanimous decision victory at a quiet Civic Center in Atlanta, winning on scores of 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91.
Working with new trainer Tom Yankello, Jones (55-8, 40 KO) did his usual in fights like this, where he's in against an unqualified opponent: He shimmied, he shook, he did a really poor impersonation of himself, and he basically played make believe, turning back the clock for a half hour in his heart, but not in the eyes of anyone reasonable.
Like a washed-up pro wrestler, Jones continues to work the gymnasiums and rec centers, pretending for moments at a time that it's still 1999, and he's still the best fighter on the planet. Slow and powerless at a doughy 193 pounds, Jones looked like less a threat to the world's top cruiserweights than to his own health, even though he took basically no punishment from Alexander (14-6-2, 2 KO), who couldn't bust a grape as a super middleweight, and certainly can't as a cruiserweight. He barely touched this utterly shot version of Jones, giving you an idea what type of fight this really was.
It has been over eight years now since Roy Jones Jr scored a win of any note, when he topped Antonio Tarver via debated decision in November 2003, eight months after defeating John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title.
Since beating Tarver, Jones has gone 6-7 counting tonight's victory, with the best win in that time coming over a fat, retired Felix "Tito" Trinidad in January 2008.
Outside of that win at Madison Square Garden (where Trinidad was all of the draw), Jones has had to win in places like the Qwest Arena in Boise, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, his hometown Civic Center in Pensacola, and now in Atlanta, another city that he tried to fool into thinking he was bringing big time boxing to its backyard.
Call it unfair, call it mean, call it hating -- but Jones says he won't stop until he wins a cruiserweight title, making him every bit as delusional as oft-joked/concerned about Evander Holyfield, now 49 and psychotically carrying on in search of the "undisputed heavyweight championship" despite the fact he gets lucky to escape Sherman Williams anymore.
Public demand for either fighter has plummeted. Only the insane or the hopelessly uninformed remain intrigued.
But there is something to be said for living on your own terms. And as long as either man can pass a state physical, fighting is up to them.
Ryan Coyne (19-0, 8 KO) stopped Dante Craig (18-12-1, 13 KO) in the second round of a light heavyweight contest. Coyne, 29, was scheduled for what would have been an absurd cruiserweight title shot against Guillermo Jones earlier this year, but when that fell apart, he struggled to beat a guy who hadn't fought in four years and never over a club level. So he's moving down to 175 in search of glory. The truth is he's just not that good, and has probably peaked where he is. He may well get a title shot, as the WBA is ranking him for whatever reason, but it won't go well. Craig was hurt in each of the first two rounds and quit after two, claiming a knee injury.
39-year-old mass of humanity and Roy Jones buddy Gabe Brown was shut out over six rounds against an MMA fighter who had one fight's worth of pro boxing experience, which came three years ago, as Mike Wessel (2-0, 0 KO) stifled the big man and didn't let him do anything. Brown (18-17-4, 12 KO) really shouldn't be in a ring anymore. There was a time when he could hold his own a little bit at a certain level, but that's gone now -- Wessel is an amateur with limited training, let alone experience, and he dominated this fight.
Also on the card: Tristan Todd UD-4 Beden Laurent ... Brian Howard TKO-1 Sharif Kemp ... Chris Howard SD-8 Stephan Alexander.