Roy Jones Jr. was once a pound-for-pound ruler who could dictate fights on his terms. But that was then and this is now.
“Now” is a 37-year-old Roy Jones Jr. who has lost his past three fights, two by knockout, fighting in a Boise, Idaho. Boise? Yes, Boise. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
The debate will go on as to whether Jones was one of the pound-for-pound best. Either he was on the big list because he was so good that he deserved it, or it was a case of Jones being fortunate to reign in one of the weaker divisions at one of its lowest points. There is no disputing that Roy Jones Jr. was one of the best light heavyweight fighters of his time, and lest we forget, moving up to heavyweight in 2003 to defeat WBA champion John Ruiz was no small feat.
Sure, some will argue that it was after all ‘only’ Ruiz, but that Ruiz was not just a heavyweight champion, he was good enough to become a two-time heavyweight champion after he later won back his WBA title. John Ruiz beat Andrew Golota, Fres Oquendo, Hasim Rahman, Kirk Johnson and Evander Holyfield. He couldn’t beat Roy Jones Jr.
But Jones either has gotten old or the division finally started to mature around him. Antonio Tarver started it all by handing Roy his first legitimate loss when Tarver won every alphabet belt in existence as he stunned Jones by knockout in the second round of their bout in May 2005. Previously Jones was saddled with a loss when he was disqualified in the ninth round of his 1997 fight against Montell Griffin for hitting Griffin when he was down.
When Tarver knocked the shine off Jones it opened the doors for other fighters who got the feeling that Jones’ move up to heavyweight and then back down to 175 may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. First up was road warrior Glen Johnson who came after Jones and knocked him stiff after nine tough rounds. In less than five shattering months the legitimacy of an entire legacy that took 15 years to build was brought into question.
In his last fight Jones Jr. met Antonio Tarver for the third time and from the opening bell it was clear that victory for Roy was not going to come by having his hand raised at the end of the night – victory for him was being vertical when the final bell rang. It was a moral victory, if anything, but the former undisputed light heavyweight champion was never in the fight and never gave the impression he was willing to do what it would take to win.
That was in October of last year, and now, in late July of 2006, we will find out just how much Roy Jones Jr. has left, if anything. The will to win wasn’t present in his last bout against Tarver and it will be interesting to see if Jones has overestimated himself, or underestimated both Prince Badi Ajamu, the opponent he meets in Boise, Idaho, and Father Time, who seems to be tapping him on the shoulder.
The Boxing Prince, as Ajamu calls himself, looks to be the chosen one for his 25-2-1 record and 34 years of age. Ajamu has done well enough to beat some average competition, but has fallen short the two times he stepped up. The two decision defeats on his resume against Otis Grant and Rico Hoye illustrate that he isn’t an upper echelon boxer, while his draw against Anthony Bonsante indicates the level where his ability likely caps out.
It can’t be money that leads Roy Jones back to the ring this summer, it can only be ego. A fighter who dominated for so many years has now gone 2½ years without the taste of victory. In Boise against a man named Prince he hopes to quench the thirst one last time.