The John Ruiz – Roy Jones, Jr. fight on March 1 is not so much the “Hard Road to Glory,” as it is a trip down Memory Lane, a little stroll through the dim hallways of heavyweight history.
Over the years, light-heavyweights have always had this strange longing to be heavyweights. They’re like kids who grew up wishing they could play shortstop for the New York Yankees. When they don’t make it – when they end up selling life insurance in Toledo – they spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened, how it all got away.
It’s almost Freudian stuff, this crazy desire to be a heavyweight. Look deep into the mind of a light-heavy and you see ugly things you don’t want to share with the kids or talk about at the office: Envy, greed, resentment. Wishing they were bigger.
When the little guys finally realize they’ll never be more than a fat light-heavy or a skinny cruiserweight, they sometimes decide that if they can’t be a heavyweight, they can at least try to beat one. It’s almost like the short-man complex, that affliction where the little guys are the ones always itching for a fight.
Welcome to the biggies, Roy. Pull up a chair, throw on a cushion or two and peer over the edge of the table. That‘s where the heavyweights are sitting, stuffing themselves on big pay days and the comforting thought that the greatest title on the planet is being the heavyweight champion of the world.
The light-heavyweight champion of the world? It’s a good title, but it’s like winning the Greater Greensboro Open or becoming the Hertz Rent-A-Car Bowling champion. It’s second fiddle, a kind of consolation prize, like Miss Congeniality.
But worse – and this is the part that really stings – there‘s not as much money at 175 pounds as there is at 225.
So what do you do? You eat a lot of mama’s home-made pasta and have dessert after every meal. And you go to bed at night praying you put on 25 pounds while you sleep.
But when none of it works – when you still tip the scales at 180 the next morning- you decide the only way into the enchanted world of the heavyweights is through beating one. Hopefully, beating him silly.
That’ll show ‘em.
For Jones, it’s not about the money as much as it is about the challenge, the chance to prove that he’s not all talk and flash, that he can beat anyone he wants to.
“When I was 16, I knew I could whoop anyone,’’ he said on a recent conference call.
Sure, Roy. Maybe if you’d been born a heavyweight.
He said he hopes to weigh 190 for the Ruiz fight, which would still leave him a cruiserweight.
“I‘ve been trying to make the jump (to heavyweight),’’ he said. “It‘s just that people won‘t give me the opportunity.’’
Funny. I don’t remember “people” ever getting in the way of Roy Jones before.
“I just want a shot at the heavyweight title,‘’ he said. “It may happen or it may not. I just have to see how I feel when I do this.”
Ever play shortstop, Roy?