It’s the last time the two Mexico City warriors will do any posing side by side.
Vazquez (42-4, 31 KOs) defends his WBC and Ring world titles against Marquez (37-4, 33 KOs) on March 1, at the Home Depot Center in Carson. It’s the third fight between the little big men and will be televised on Showtime.
Both fighters arrive in L.A. on Wednesday to kickoff the final chapter.
If you’ve never seen refined violence to the 10th degree, then this is your big chance. Both Mexico City prizefighters are the best at their craft and you won’t find two other boxers with their fighting skills and passion for knockouts.
This trilogy is all about history.
“It’s why you fight, to make history,” said Marquez, 32, while inside El Paseo Inn located near the historic Avila House, the first non-Native American dwelling in the city of Los Angeles. “You fight so people can remember you long after you stop fighting.”
Inside the restaurant more than a 100 representatives of various media outlets crowded inside to see the Mexico City pair make their formal opening comments on the third fight.
The first meeting took place at the same venue the Home Depot and was set up so quickly that the public barely had enough time to generate interest. Within two weeks of the actual fight Vazquez and Marquez met at the tennis stadium and lit up the arena with their fury.
Marquez won when Vazquez was unable to continue because of an inability to breathe. Though the TV announcers and others saw the capitulation and as act of disgrace, Vazquez knew he would get another chance.
The rematch took place in Texas last summer and proved as explosive as anticipated. But the end results were not to Marquez’s liking.
“Everything went wrong from the beginning,” said Marquez. “First there were no commission members around when you needed them, then there were problems with the hand wraps. I went into the ring mad and out of focus.”
Marquez, unlike in his first encounter with Vazquez, did little jabbing and seemed more inclined to stretch out his opponent with every punch.
“I tell you I was out of focus,” Marquez says. “I had no concentration for that fight and it showed in the way I fought.”
Several thunderous exchanges saw Vazquez’s left hook inflict damage early in the fight.
In the sixth round another left hook sent Marquez careening around the ring. The referee stepped in and stopped the fight much to the chagrin of the fans and Marquez’s supporters.
Marquez isn’t giving any excuses but says he feels much better in California than Texas.
“This is where the fight should have been last time too,” said Marquez who along with his older brother Juan Manuel Marquez fought in the Forum Boxing shows early in their careers. “People know me and now Vazquez in California.”
Scott Woodward, vice president of Sycuan Ringside Promotions, said these two fighters cannot fail to excite.
“These are two legitimate pound for pound guys,” Woodward said. “That’s how you get a Fight of the Year.”
Many boxing publications named their second contest as the best fight of 2007.
Eric Gomez, vice president of Golden Boy Promotions, said even their first fight was “an instant classic” and deserving of credit as one of the best fights of 2007.
“These two little guys have big hearts,” Gomez said.
Vazquez, who recaptured the WBC junior featherweight title in Texas, said admiration for his opponent only drives him harder.
“Rafael Marquez is a great warrior who inside the ring will try to knock me out at all cost. I don’t hate him for that, I respect him,” said Vazquez. “Outside the ring we can be friends.”
Upon entering the 21st century East Europeans have embarrassed, battered and knocked out Americans like so many bowling pins.
That’s why Philadelphia’s “Fast” Eddie Chambers (30-0, 16 KOs) is creeping over to Germany to battle Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (14-0, 11 KOs) at the Tempodrom in Berlin on Saturday Jan. 26. The IBF elimination bout will be shown on HBO.
No fanfare, no hoopla, just a casual visit to Povetkin’s home turf.
“We’re keeping it low key,” says Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor Promotions that guides Chambers. “But it is an important fight that could put Eddie Chambers among the elite fighters in the heavyweight division.”
Sure there’s been an occasional heavyweight in the history of pro boxing that grabbed the world title without American citizenship papers. Bob Fitzsimmons, Tommy Burns, Max Schmeling and Primo Carnera were good chaps from overseas who wore the heavyweight world championship belt. Later on Ingemar Johansson had his moment too in 1959. Then the next non-American to win a heavyweight world title didn’t happen until South Africa’s Gerrie Coetzee in 1983.
So what happened?
Various experts blame the exodus of prime heavyweight candidates to the NBA, NFL and track where millions can be gained without taking a single punch.
But it has to be more than that.
More likely, it’s the disintegration of the former Soviet Union that kept potential heavyweight boxers from entering the professional ranks from 1917 to 1991. Who knows how many Russians, Ukrainians, East Germans, Czechs, Romanians, Polish and fighters from other East European countries would have captured world titles during those 74 years of Communist rule?
Now there seems to be a glut of East European prizefighters with four of the more recognized world titles now in their possession.
It’s like an invisible Berlin Wall keeps Americans from winning a heavyweight world title.
Things can change with two of the titleholders scheduled to fight each other in a non-organized unification tournament: IBF Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine and WBO heavyweight titleholder Sultan Ibragimov of Russia will battle each other on Feb. 23 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The other two titleholders Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Chagaev, the WBA titleholder and Russia’s Oleg Maskaev, the WBC champ, are primed to defend soon.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Goossen prays that Chambers can be the next opponent for the winner between the two east European fighters Klitschko and Ibragimov.
“It’s what we’ve worked for to put Eddie Chambers in the position to fight for the heavyweight title,” says Goossen who has about a dozen heavyweights in his fold.
Though Chambers is a small heavyweight at six-feet, and weighs only 210, his exceptionally fast hands, defensive prowess and youth could lead to victory.
“He’s definitely got the tools to erase the stigma that American heavyweights are not up to par,” said Henry Ramirez, the trainer of another American heavyweight hopeful Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola. “Eddie has a good chance of beating Alex Povetkin. Both are very good fighters.”
Russia’s Povetkin stopped former two-time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in his last fight that was also in Germany.
It was a shocking result to many boxing insiders.
But 25-year-old Chambers has surprised experts too.
The Pittsburgh native who prepares in Philadelphia beat Calvin Brock and Dominick Guinn to reach this point. Both those wins were not set ups.
“He proved he’s ready for the heavyweight title in beating Brock and Guinn,” said Ramirez of Chambers. “Both Povetkin and Chambers were good amateur fighters who moved up the ranks.”
Chambers wants to be the first American to recapture a heavyweight world title in the midst of the East European blockade. It’s kind of a sneak attack.
“We’re keeping it quiet,” says Goossen who has his fingers crossed. “It’s up to Eddie now. It’s every fighter’s dream to get the opportunity.”
Is Roy Jones back?
The battle between two future Hall of Fame candidates proved a decisive win on the scorecards for Roy Jones Jr. against the smaller Felix “Tito” Trinidad, but far from decisive in proving the Pensacola boxer still has the legs.
Jones knocked down Trinidad twice with blistering combinations that showed the hand speed is still locked in his gloves. But Jones was far removed from the 2002 version who could move around an opponent with the agility of a jaguar.
That version of Jones is gone forever.
At times Jones looked like a newborn colt testing out his legs with an unsteadiness that disappears with each minute. But not in Jone’s case. The unsteadiness in his lower limbs is now a permanent fixture.
If the fight had taken place six years ago, Jones would have knocked out the gallant Trinidad in a mere two rounds. Last Saturday, he attempted to put the Puerto Rican fighter down for good but was unable to convince the legs to respond.
It’s not over for Jones, even though he can no longer skitter around the ring as if on ice skates, the lightning speed of his punches remains a formidable weapon. Plus, he knows the game enough to change his tactics and style to fit the handicaps of his teetering legs.
But don’t expect Jones vintage 2002.
Roman Karmazin loses
Russia’s Roman Karmazin seemed to have a slight advantage in his fight with Africa’s Alex Bunema, but a left hook changed everything in the 10th round. Sensing Karmazin was still unsteady, Bunema pounced on the Russian veteran and pummeled him into unconsciousness.
It was sad to see the Russian fighter lose by knockout after his struggles to gain fame after 12 years fighting professionally. But his boxing style of fighting with his left hand dangling by his leg, proved too much of a detriment.
Karmazin was repeatedly tagged by lead right hands. It could be the end of Karmazin’s pro boxing career.
Foul Pole wins
Andrew Golota (41-6-1, 33 KOs) gutted out a 12-round decision over Mike Mollo (19-2, 12 KOs) in a grueling heavyweight fight.
Golota, 40, is best known for his two foul-infested fights against heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe in 1996 that resulted in two disqualifications. Those penalty marred exhibitions resulted in the Polish-born fighter being nicknamed “Foul Pole” Golota.
Remarkably it was Mollo, 27, who did the fouling as Golota used his massive six-feet, five-inch frame to batter the smaller fighter over 12 rounds.
It’s amazing to believe, but Golota has earned himself yet another possible shot at a heavyweight title in winning a unanimous decision over Mollo.
Fights on television
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Hugo Cazares (25-4-1) vs. Kermin Guardia (37-7).
Sat. HBO, 7 p.m., Eddie Chambers (30-0) vs. Alex Povetkin (14-0); replay of Roy Jones Jr. (52-4) vs. Felix Trinidad (42-3).
Countless admirers patted his glistening back, but Penn has grown well accustomed to high praise.
Since his early fighting days the Hawaiian has been dubbed “The Prodigy”, and his achievements initially backed up that moniker. At just 21 years of age he became the first non-Brazilian to win a gold medal in the Black Belt division of the Mundial World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Four years later he would submit the legendary Matt Hughes to claim the welterweight crown.
But Penn could not win the title that best suited his natural fighting weight of 155 pounds. Fluctuations in weight and a self-confessed negligent attitude towards training resulted in a points defeat to Jens Pulver and an unsatisfactory draw with the lightly regarded Caol Uno.
Penn’s subsequent revulsion with the lightweight division even saw him compete at heavyweight rather than fight at a weight class that harboured so many bad memories.
But it took the promise of a rematch with Pulver to finally convince Penn to drop down to 155 pounds. Only an opportunity for redemption would motivate the Hilo resident.
And when the anguish of the original Pulver loss was emphatically erased last September Penn turned his attention to winning the seemingly unattainable title.
The chance to fight for the lightweight championship came about sooner than expected when Sean Sherk was stripped of the belt after failing a post fight drugs test last summer.
So the 29-year-old Penn would have to take his frustrations out on Joe Stevenson in order to claim the vacant crown.
“I came into mixed martial arts to win the lightweight championship,” declared Penn before two days before the fight. “It will be ‘third time’s a charm’.”
As he made his way to the octagon last Saturday, Penn carried the aura of the Prodigal Son as he returned to the situation that bestowed him so many bitter memories. Yet he appeared at ease with the impending task.
His eyes were fixed on the caged enclosure ahead of him, but his toned neck and shoulder muscles seemed loose; prepared to go to war. The sold out crowd greeted his arrival with a noisy deference.
They also approved of his subsequent MMA master-class. Penn, who can comfortably extend his leg behind his head without the aid of his hands, utilized his freakish flexibility to dominate a visibly exasperated Stevenson on the ground. He employed slashing elbow strikes to open a deep gash on the Californian’s forehead. In the second round he demonstrated his proficient boxing skills by brutally counter-striking his physically stronger opponent, before finishing off the prey with a rear-naked choke.
After the fight was halted, daring murmurs propagated around press row that the best fighter in mixed martial arts was being extolled in the above octagon.
Soon those whispers turned into declarations.
“Without a doubt B.J. Penn is the greatest fighter pound-for-pound in the world,” said welterweight contender Marcus Davis after witnessing Penn’s performance. “He’s got all the tools.”
“I agree with that,” concurred lightweight fighter Sam Stout. “It looked like B.J. was seeing everything in slow motion tonight. He put on a phenomenal performance.”
“B.J. is freakish,” added UFC President Dana White. “Even great wrestlers can’t take him down.”
Not only did Penn seize the lightweight championship, he also became the second fighter in history, after Randy Couture, to win titles in two weight classes. His 13-4-1 record may not look legendary, but aesthetics don’t play a part in the world of MMA.
“This isn’t like boxing,” said White. “The two sports are completely different. In boxing a fighter can go to 48-0 before he fights a real opponent.”
“B.J. losing a few fights doesn’t mean anything [to his legacy],” said Matt Hughes after he defeated Penn in 2006.
Yet Penn has looked great in the past only to appear apathetic about the sport in ensuing fights. Some observers believe his middle-class background has dulled a killer instinct. Nonetheless, Penn must now maintain complete focus on his career to be assured ubiquitous greatness.
“B.J. hasn’t had focus,” said White. “This sport is going through so many changes that it’s easy to think you’re a rock star. Fighters have to keep their eye on the prize and remain humble.”
Penn seems willing to acquiesce with White’s philosophy.
“It’s time to be in shape or get your butt kicked,” said the new champion. “I was just a young punk when I didn’t train in the past. Now every top fighter is well rounded, it wasn’t like that before. There are so many good lightweight fighters like Kenny Florian, Roger Huerta, Frankie Edgar, Sam Stout.”
Penn will certainly be a marked man in the talented 155 pound division, but his first challenge will come from former champion Sherk in Las Vegas next May.
Given that Sherk didn’t lose the title in combat gives the impending lightweight showdown a prickly edge. Moreover, his remarkable strength and exceptional recent form will test Penn’s dedication to training.
“Sean Sherk is very motivated for the [Penn] fight,” said White. “He’s upset about the way he lost the title. I think Sherk has the ability to take B.J. down to the ground. It’s going to be all about conditioning.”
Penn will have to continue to remain a diligent trainer if he wants to distance himself from the fighter who used to “pride myself on how little training I could do and get away with it”.
But he has been making the effort.
“For this fight [against Stevenson] I did all my sparring at 11am to prepare for the time difference [between the US and UK],” said Penn.
If the Hawaiian warrior maintains this newfound attitude, the bustling lightweight division will soon take on a sense of serenity.
Russian Alexander Povetkin meets the best young American heavyweight hopeful, Eddie Chambers at 10:00 PM. (ET/PT), from the Tempodrome in Berlin, right after the wallet-challenged tune in to see the Roy Jones takedown of Trinidad from last week.
Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis will be ringside for the heavyweight tangle, which pits two undefeateds looking to make some noise, and secure themselves a title shot.
2004 Olympic gold medalist Povetkin is 14-0, 11 KOs, while Chambers is 30-0, 16 KOs; the bout is scheduled for 12, because it is an eliminator.
The former kickboxer Povetkin, age 28, is coming off an October 11th-round knockout of former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd.
The 25-year-old Pennsylvania native Chambers took a SD12 from vet Calvin Brock in November. He went up a notch in my eyes when he apologized to fans and viewers for his lackluster showing against Brock.
Winner gets his tail kicked, I mean, winner gets the opportunity to fight IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko should he get past Sultan Ibragimov on Feb. 23.
Arum confirmed the Cotto date to Dan Rafael, and while some Ts need crossing, according to Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels, this deal will get done.
Cotto may draw from heat from netfans who demand he fight only megafights and mega-names, but I have a gut feeling this fight will be a doozy.
Gomez is a man of destiny, I do believe, and while I think he is in a different skill class than Cotto, who at times outboxed master boxer Shane Mosley in November, he will believe in his heart that he can knock Cotto off his 31-0 perch.
Gomez, age 27, is a Mexican born California resident who sent Arturo Gatti to the golf course in July 2007, and took a UD10 from Ben Tackie in October in his last outing.
His record stands at 18-3, with losses coming to Peter Manfredo, Jesse Feliciano and Ishe Smith.
Cotto, age 27, did crave a megafight, and Arum worked hard to land him Mayweather or De La Hoya, so he can't be faulted for taking a "stay busy" fight.
AND: Kermit Cintron (29-1) will get a chance to rectify when he meets up with again with Antonio Margarito. Cintron got stopped in the fifth round of their 2005 encounter, but has since rebuilt his standing by hooking up with Manny Steward. Anyone not enthused with the choice of Gomez for Cotto should be cheered up by this pairing. Cintron, age 28, has won five straight since Margarito schooled him, and he holds the IBF 147 pound crown. The 29-year-old Margarito steamrolled Golden Johnson in a statement fight in November after losing a decision to longarm Paul Williams in July 2007.
Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie. Like them, you are a master capitalist. You’re also a pugilistic virtuoso, but on your current career path, we will remember you more for being a businessman than as someone who took care of bidness in the ring.
Allow me to blunt for a moment. Your victories over Oscar and Hatton impress on paper only. Your win over De La Hoya was akin to defeating the Spanish Armada in the 1600’s. Both big-time names. Both already depleted.
And your kayo of Ricky Hatton at 147 was an impressive display to be sure---if you’re into watching snakes devour mice.
We applaud your ability to maximize your payday, while minimizing your risk. Adam Smith would be proud. But discerning boxing fans are not fooled.
Congratulations on the victories, though. I do not intend to entirely diminish your accomplishments, but we know you are capable of more. You are, after all, the best fighter of your era and your work ethic is among the best in any sport.
However, a young gauntlet of up-and-comers in your own weight class awaits you. You have an opportunity---one that far too many never get---to truly legitimize your reign. Your pockets are sufficiently stuffed. I beseech you to not retire. I beg you to not fight Oscar. And I hope you will listen.
If you need some time off, you’ve more than earned it. But when September rolls around, I do not want to see you in the ring with Oscar and telling us that a 2nd win over him will cement your legacy.
Miguel Cotto. Paul Williams. Kermit Cintron. Ready yourselves.
These are just a few of the names that would present unique challenges to you. Between them they have just 1 professional loss. There’s risk involved. That means there’s intrigue involved. That gets people talking. That gets people caring, which in turn leads to honest debate about your place.
Cotto is considered the biggest threat, while Williams has a reach and build rarely seen in your class. Cintron, conversely, punches with the fury of a larger man. These would be tests where you can truly prove your mettle. You might get knocked down. You might even lose. But until we see you sweat against a dangerous opponent, we (and you) will never know how great you truly are. At some point you’ve got to put your neck on the line if you want to be considered for boxing’s Mount Crushmore.
Ali lost 5 times. But he stepped in the ring with legends that pushed him to a higher level. If you’re worried about your health, take solace in the fact you’ll never have to spend 15 rounds getting acquainted with the fist at the end of Smokin’s Joe’s left hook. For years you’ve had a crutch when addressing your lack of big-name victims: You beat everyone in front of you.
But, if you want to be taken seriously, put a worthy adversary in front of you. They now abound. They’re not the biggest money fights available, but only by making these fights will you silence your remaining critics.
Please Floyd, accept a fight with Cotto. Afterwards fight whoever is left standing if Cintron and Williams ever get around to a showdown. You’re arguably the greatest fighter of the last 10 years, a unique talent. Perhaps one day, the rest of the world will believe you’re as good as you think you are.
Dawson read the list of Jones’ call out choices, and responded.
"Let's see, he named middleweights Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor, super middleweight Joe Calzaghe, light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins, who has been asking for a rematch for over 10 years, and junior middleweight Oscar De La Hoya,” Dawson said. “Funny how big old 'Superman' doesn't want to pick on someone his own size, like the reigning WBC light heavyweight champion ... me.”
Dawson (25-0), more of a humorist than I would have given him credit, continued in a statement: “Great Caesars Ghost! Could it be that I'm the Kryptonite 'Superman' Jones fears more than anything else in this universe? Heck, as long as he's pretending to be Superman, doesn't he even want to pretend to want to fight me for his old belt back?"
I like trash talk as much as the next guy, but I have to offer Dawson some advice. Bro, you have your hands full with Glen Johnson, another fighter conspicuously absent from Jones’ call out list, on April 12. If, and I think it’s a pretty big IF you beat the Road Warrior, then it makes more sense for you to be targeting RJJ.
Dawson's promoter, Gary Shaw also weighed in: "Chad doesn't have to send out misleading statements that he's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Chad is just stating fact. Until Roy steps up to fight for the world light heavyweight title, the only thing he has in common with Superman is being a cartoon."
Respect is a concept that has not been far from the boxing career of Roy Jones Jr. With every victory comes an endless amount of admiration from his support group, fans, and a certain portion of the media.
In sports, however, to gain respect from your peers, that goes a long way. Respecting an opponent’s punching power, jump shot or tackling ability can be viewed as the greatest form of gratitude for another athlete. However there are certain competitors that gain more appreciation than others.
There are not many athletes in sports that become an idol to their opponents or teammates during the midst of their careers. Men like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali have all received the recognition of greatness from their fellow competitors with good reason. Throw the name of Roy Jones Jr. onto that list as well.
During the post fight press conference, the comments from the other boxers about Roy Jones Jr. were subtle. It was not like they were worshipping the former pound for pound king, they were merely showing gratitude to a boxing icon.
Every boxer sitting on the platform during the press conference, (besides the tough guy himself, Andrew Golota) spoke of Roy Jones as if he was a living legend. The Michael Jordan of boxing if you will.
Alex Bunema, the man that knocked out Roman Karmazin, in one of the bouts prior to Jones/Trinidad said, “It was an honor to step into the same ring, and be in the same event, as my idol, Roy Jones Jr.” After the comment, Roy and Bunema shook hands in an image of gratification from both fighters.
Mike Mollo, the fighter that went to battle with Andrew Golata for 12 courageous rounds and Devon Alexander, the 20 year old junior welterweight prospect that defeated DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley in the first televised bout of the PPV show, gave their praises to Jones as well.
Perhaps the respect from those young boxers will continue to boost “Superman’s” ego. But maybe not, maybe we should all take a moment to think about the positive things that came out of Roy Jones’ victory on Saturday night.
Hello… Did anyone else realize that Jones is still a household boxing name?
How many sports fans outside of the boxing purists know that Roy Jones is 39 years old and past his prime? It is probably as many as those that think that Mark McGwire didn’t take steroids.
Roy Jones is 39 years old, but who cares? At least he can still fight. Are the UFC fans concerned with the fact that Randy Couture was 44 years old in his last fight and Chuck Liddell, the 38 year old, is the most popular fighter in the UFC, even though he lost 2 of his last 3 fights? No, they aren’t.
However, there is little patience in boxing. How quickly do we forget our current boxing heroes? Pound for pound this and pound for pound that. We all get lost riding tails of the front runners in boxing. But at times we forget to acknowledge the accomplishments of active living legends like Roy Jones Jr.
Why is it important? Because he will probably retire within the next few years and he should be appreciated for the excitement that he brought into the ring. In boxing, there needs to be some depth in our perception.
Active boxing legends that are past their prime should be treated with the same respect baseball, basketball, football, and soccer give to their icons. In boxing, when a fighter falls from the top of the heap, we are quick to disregard him. However, the same cannot be said for most other sports.
In football, another 39 year old athlete, well past his prime, named Brett Favre, is receiving nothing but compliments for this past football season. But that is nothing new for him. The all-time great quarterback has had an up and down decade to say the least. However his position with NFL fans has not wavered. Football fans recognize that Favre is near the end of his Hall of Fame career. But respect the fact that he was a 3-time MVP during his prime and still competes near the championship level.
This is one of the beauties of the so called mainstream American sports. They have a unique respect for aging legends that can still do it. Brett Favre is receiving the same respect today that John Elway, Larry Bird, and Cal Ripken Jr. got before him, during the end of their careers. The main stream sports value their aging heroes that are still active. Boxing rarely does.
In boxing, Roy Jones Jr. was the long time pound for pound king and fighter of the decade in the 1990’s. Today, he can still fight with some of the best in boxing, but there are many pugilist fans and experts, who view him as an over-hyped has-been.
Dare I say, poor Roy Jones, he is arguably as accomplished as any boxer since Sugar Ray Leonard and more talented than any boxer, possibly ever, but is hardly given the recognition of a living legend.
Here is a question, which is more accomplished in sports, Brett Favre or Roy Jones? For argument sake, let’s say they are equals. Then why doesn’t Jones receive the same type of gratitude?
The sports media and fans alike can say what they will about the Jones vs. Trinidad event on Saturday night. It is a given that both fighters are past their primes and this fight should have been made years ago.
Furthermore, boxing is, and perhaps will forever be, a young man’s sport. But the aftermath of the Jones’ victory, and the praise that he received from his pugilist counterparts during the press conference, only strengths the fact that he is a boxing idol.
Like it or not, Roy Jones Jr. is a boxer that most young fighters try to emulate in the ring. If you do not believe me, ask Andre Ward, Devon Alexander, Mike Mollo, and most of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing team.
From a proper viewpoint, athletic icons in the twilight of their careers are good for sports. The mainstream sports fans have the right idea. We should appreciate our boxing heroes while they are still here, not after they are gone.
To that end, Jones is tossing his hat into several rings, and offering himself up to multiple bidders and hitters.
“I told you Roy Jones Jr. is back,” Jones said after Saturday’s effort, in which he used his energy reserves in judicious fashion while shrugging off Trinidad’s body-focused attack without so much as a grimace.
“I’ll take the winner of either the re-match between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor or Joe Calzaghe versus Bernard Hopkins,” Jones said. “I’m even willing to go down to 156 pounds to face Oscar De La Hoy in May. Line them up and I’ll knock them down.”
The first two possibilities make sense, from a money and fan interest perspective; the De La Hoya scrap passes the fiscal hurdle, but I’m not sure I’d like to see what’s left in Jones’ tank after he breaks down his muscles to make 156 pounds. No, I am sure—don’t even think it, Jones, not after you made so much of your difficulty in dropping from heavyweight back down to 175 pounds in 2003.
“I always said that with the right motivation and focus I can still be Superman,” Jones said. “I saw it in the gym leading up to the fight and Tito Trinidad and everybody else saw it on Saturday night at the Garden. Like I said, line ‘em up and I’ll knock them down.”
What he saw and I saw are two entirely different things, but that doesn’t mean that I’d not watch Calzaghe/Jones to see if Jones could hand Joe his first ‘L’ since I’m doubting Hopkins will be busy enough to do that on April 19 in Las Vegas.
The sturdiest stake in a career coffin comes when no one cares.
And as evidenced by this column, I still care about Roy Jones, and what he does next.
This Superman can’t leap tall building in a single bound; he needs a running start, and he has to choose his buildings wisely. This Superman has been weakened by the Kryptonite that gets us all, aging, but I am still curious, I guess, to see if he is more powerful than a lot of the other locomotives in circulation.
You recall leading up to the Jones/Trinidad scrap, many fightwriters dismissed the scrap, stating that if anything, it should have taken place about a decade ago.
Never mind that the two men’s weight classes weren’t within spitting distance until now. Remember? Let’s refresh…Tito fought at 147 from 1993-1999. He fought at 154 in 2000, at 160 from 2001 to 2005. Yes, Jones has fought as low as 153 pounds (in 1991), but Tito was a neophyte pro at that time. From there Jones fought at 160 from late ’91 to ’93; at 168 until 1996; at 175, save for one heavyweight/cruiserweight outing in 2003, until this Saturday. When, exactly did people want Jones and Trinidad to get it on? Back in what day?
You may be hearing the same argument from fightwriters moving forward. There may be some sqwuawking to the effect of “Why didn’t the Calzaghe/Hopkins fight happen when both men were closer to their prime?”
Well, it’s hard to make a compelling argument that the soon-to-be 36-year-old Calzaghe is not still in the prime of his athletic life, judging from the bulk of his work the last two years.
It’s easier to swallow the notion that Hopkins, at 43, is not in his prime as a boxer. He is 43, fer chrissakes, so there’s no shame in some slippage. His work rate has slipped noticeably from his most fertile period, from 1997-2001.
It made some sense for Calzaghe to meet Hopkins, purely from a common sense perspective, from around the time Calzaghe beat Chris Eubank, in 1997. Both unbeaten, a mere eight pounds separating them in class. And it’s not like the 160 pound class at that time was chock full of Hall of Famers for Hopkins to tangle with.
The fight almost went down in 2004, and there was a $2.5 million offer on the table to Hopkins, who rejected it. Calzaghe and Warren scrambled to plug in a foe for the date saved for Hopkins, and Calzaghe wound up downing Armenian Mger Mrktchian (TKO7) and giving the Hopkins romance a rest. Calzaghe and Hopkins had been flirting for much of 2002, and 2003 too, so this ‘all flirt-no eff farce has been unfolding for a looong spell.
Calzaghe was still not a true household name in the States, though, save for the hardcore fight fan, until he beat Jeff Lacy in 2006. From that point on, it made sense for the Welshman to meet Hopkins, who by that point was showing a true willingness to move up in weight to widen the scope of his choices of foes. He jumped up from his familiar 160 pound neighborhood to 175 when he took on Antonio Tarver in June 2006.
The flirting resumed in earnest last year, after Calzaghe target Jermain Taylor crashed and burned, and now it looks like we will see the act. It’s booked for April 19, at the Thomas and Mack Center, outside of Calzaghe’s home turf, as Hopkins has always wanted. I will not see this as a done deal until the fighters are in the ring, the Anthem has been played, and a descendent of Fan Man hasn’t parachuted into the ring.
Bottom line is, this fight would have made more sense when they first started flirting, in 2002. But in boxing, as in romance, things often don’t go as planned.
SPEEDBAG You guys mad pumped for the April 12th Showtime card? Chad Dawson versus Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver against Clinton (No Relation) Woods, pretty solid doubleheader. Top Rank won’t put Cotto in with Alfonso Gomez the same night in AC, will they?