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Bad Left Hook Retro: Roy Jones, Jr. v. Vinny Pazienza

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I've mentioned this fight before, but I was thinking about it again the other day, and went to youtube to look for a clip of the finish. They had it -- it's still a hell of a thing to watch.

I think that most referees now would have stopped this after the first knockdown in the video. Pazienza is clearly wobbled as all hell, is only holding on with guts, and he noticeably grimaces and almost goes down in pain when trying to circle away from Jones prior to the second knockdown. That second flooring was a glancing blow, which doesn't make it any lesser -- actually, it makes it clear how finished Pazienza really was. He had no legs under him. He was standing up on guts. I can't say he was fighting on guts, because he wasn't fighting at all. He couldn't.

The third and final knockdown is a definitive moment in the brilliant career of Roy Jones, Jr.

Shrugging almost in disbelief that the referee is letting it continue and that Pazienza keeps getting up for more, Jones stops trying to stick and move on The Pazmanian Devil. He instead tips a dump truck of power punches right onto Pazienza, making it very clear that he is the better man, he will knock Pazienza out as he sees fit, and he is the champion here.

Over the years, I've heard lots of people compare Vinny Pazienza and Arturo Gatti. I've never seen it, past fighting spirit and a never-say-die sort of attitude in the ring. Gatti is very easy to like; Pazienza, a lot of the time, was not. Vinny was a very tough guy, but he was also a guy who talked. A lot. Jones shut Pazienza up in decisive fashion.

Because he lost two of three to Antonio Tarver, Roy Jones' reputation took a hit. I also think a lot of this was due to the HBO treatment of Jones. Listen to the commentary for his fights against Virgil Hill or Clinton Woods, where Lampley, Merchant and crew fawn over Jones. Later on, when his contract was coming up and Roy was probably being Roy in negotiations, plus losing a step, they talk about Jones as if he didn't have a big hand in putting HBO boxing solidly on the map as the sport's No. 1 purveyor of the big fight.

I'll be happy to hear Jones-Trinidad called by Jim and Larry again. It's almost a homecoming. And truth be told, I still think Roy has the skills to be a titleholder at 175. I don't think Clinton Woods could beat him now any more than anyone thought Clinton Woods could beat him years ago. I think Hopkins would probably beat Roy nowadays, and I think Dawson would be a difficult matchup for him, but other than that, what? Zsolt Erdei? A motivated Jones could win a rematch with Glen Johnson, and that's no shot the very good Johnson.

And I don't think he can beat Tarver, which Roy rightly acknowledges as a terrible matchup for him. I don't want to see a fourth fight there, and I don't know who'd really want to promote it, either. HBO seems more interested in the Trinidad aspect of Jones-Trinidad, and Roy may have burned a bridge with Showtime during the Hanshaw negotiations, and Showtime is Tarver's home for the time being.

But, historically, who are you going to rate higher: Tarver or Jones? And is it even close? Antonio Tarver's entire career is built on three things: (1) being demolished by Hopkins, (2) starring in Rocky Balboa, and (3) being Roy Jones, Jr.'s kryptonite. Someone had to be that guy. Tarver had Roy's number, plain and simple.

But it's like Barrera v. Junior Jones. Who rates higher?

I often still look back and marvel at how superior Roy Jones, Jr., was to almost every single guy he fought for a long period of time. He was a no-doubt No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. He is a Hall of Famer.

And the closer the fight gets, the more I don't think I see any way Tito Trinidad can beat Jones, and I have no idea why Tito is taking that as a comeback fight. This could be a one-and-done deal, and a third retirement. But I'll give him this much: It takes a serious set of cojones to step up that high in weight to fight a living legend who seems to be maybe getting his game back, particularly for someone who hasn't fought in years.