Roy Jones Jr. has agreed to fight Denis Lebedev on May 22 in Moscow. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports this evening that 42-year-old Roy Jones Jr. will once again return to the ring on May 22, this time traveling to Moscow to face cruiserweight contender Denis Lebedev.
The news is what it is. You're here, so you know that Roy Jones Jr. is beyond shot in the ring. And you also probably know at this point that Roy just can't let go. My theory that Roy learned late in his career how much he loved boxing is still something I believe in, but at this point it's getting just plain ugly.
The fight won't be at any catchweight, as Jones will make a legitimate cruiserweight debut with this fight. His partner John Wirt at Square Ring Promotions, which started nicely but is now nothing more than a vanity vehicle for Jones to keep fighting, had this to say:
"I do believe the weight is to Roy's advantage," Wirt said. "Roy has had a lot of trouble getting down to 175 pounds in the last few fights. He was so dried out for the Hopkins fight and I think that showed in his performance."
You know what else showed in that performance, and every other performance of Roy's since 2005? He's not good anymore. Jones still fights like Roy Jones sometimes, but only when in against fighters who don't present any danger, like Jeff Lacy or Omar Sheika or the blown-up Tito Trinidad. But Roy doesn't take punches well at all anymore, and when he gets thrown off his game, he mostly just covers up and waits forever. He seems to lose confidence very quickly, which is not a surprise. He's old, his reflexes and hand speed are gone to the point that he now looks like one of the million Roy Jones imitators when he does throw punches, and it seems like he has never, ever gotten over (mentally or physically) the back-to-back nasty knockouts from Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in 2004.
Lebedev (21-1, 16 KO) is no joke and not a fighter to be taken lightly by anyone. He's a top five cruiserweight who gave Marco Huck all he could handle in December, losing a debated split decision on the road in Germany. He can punch, he's very tough, and it just seems inevitable that he knocks Jones out in this fight.
As a huge Roy Jones fan, this just gets harder and harder to deal with. I'll watch if available. There is no American TV deal for the fight, but Wirt says they're trying -- though they also tried with the aborted Danny Santiago fight last year and came up with a goose egg. But it's going to hurt. It's been over for Jones for years, and everybody knows it. He just keeps coming back, and God help me, I can't stop paying attention, because he was once Roy Jones Jr., one of the most unbelievable talents to ever grace a boxing ring.