Roy Jones Jr, the fighter of the 1990s whose recent years have been far less kind in the ring to say the very least, says he wants to fight in the United Kingdom before he retires, and mentioned WBO light heavyweight beltholder Nathan Cleverly as a potential opponent in The South Wales Argus:
"If anybody out there wants to come up to the cruiserweight division and thinks they want some or even if Nathan Cleverly wants me to come to 175lbs and take his belt, I might try that. That’s not a bad fight at all. Tell Nathan’s guy to call me and we might make that happen."
Contrary to Jones' statement -- and I doubt this will surprise anyone -- that is in fact a bad fight at all, one that would accomplish two things that need to stop happening:
- Nathan Cleverly's powderpuff world title fights.
- Roy Jones' continuing boxing career.
Jones, who will turn 44 in January of next year, saw his incredible run in the sport come to a screeching, crashing, burning halt in 2004 when he was knocked out in two rounds by Antonio Tarver. This followed Jones winning championships at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and even heavyweight, where his 2003 clinic against John Ruiz served as his final truly high-end performance.
Since losing to Tarver in 2004, Jones has gone 7-7 overall, and has not beaten a single opponent one might consider of good quality. His wins over Prince Badi Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw, a bloated and retired Felix Trinidad, Omar Sheika, Jeff Lacy, Max Alexander, and Pawel Glazewski have not been nearly as memorable as his losses over that same time span.
There are some who argue that Jones continues because he's popular, but reality isn't supporting that claim anymore. At this point, he has to travel abroad to find an audience, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but in his last U.S. fight, which came last year against Max Alexander, he drew a depressingly paltry crowd in Atlanta for what amounted to an overall sad exhibition against a guy who hadn't fought in two years and wasn't good when he was active, either.
Jones (56-8, 40 KO) continues on for reasons known only to him. Pride, ego, some misguided belief that he'll "find it" again -- like the 49-year-old Evander Holyfield, who grows increasingly incompetent in the ring but still tries to sell himself to anyone who will listen, Jones has become a tragic tale, something he once claimed would never happen while he was playing basketball games on the afternoons of his fights.
But then, that's boxing for you. Both Jones and Holyfield are apparently passing medical tests enough to fight, and as long as they can do that, technically, no one can stop them from fighting. And I don't think either has truly stained his legacy, because I don't think what athletes do in their waning years has any effect on who they were in their prime, and their prime is what really matters, but most people don't see it that way, and it's harder and harder to remember the electrifying Roy Jones when we keep seeing the old man doing the imitation act. At this point, he fights like an actor playing Roy Jones Jr -- it kinda looks like him, but it isn't.
As you can probably tell by the fact that I get going on this topic whenever it's brought up again, I remain a big Roy Jones Jr fan. I always will be. Which is why watching him stumble past the likes of Glazewski or get whomped by Denis Lebedev is so bothersome.
As for Cleverly (24-0, 11 KO), I'm sure I've made my feelings clear on him enough lately, so I'll leave that as is. Cleverly faces "contender" Vyacheslav Uzelkov on October 27 in Cardiff.