Former pound-for-pound king goes Oedipal in Memphis

Last weekend in Memphis, Tenn., former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. spoke with the boxing press and, without a handler to muzzle his wilder allegations, explained why he thinks he lost his last fight against Antonio Tarver.

“You want the truth?” asked Jones rhetorically to no one in particular. “I’ll tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he said, sounding like a bailiff in a court of law.

“If I go on and win that fight (with Tarver), who gets the glory? Not me. Not God. All the glory would’ve went to Roy Jones Sr., and he didn’t deserve it. Where was he the last eight or nine years? Now, would that’ve been right?”

Roy Jr.’s and Roy Sr.’s relationship hit the skids a decade ago and the young man send his old man packing. Alton Merkerson stepped in to fill the breach and helped Jones become the superstar we all remember. But RJJ’s father rejoined his son’s team for the third and presumably last bout he’ll have with Tarver, a bout in which Jones Jr., in survival mode, did a lot of nothing but survive.

When Roy was asked if losing was worse than his dad getting the glory, he said, “It was, but at the time I didn’t see it like that. If I win the fight, my father gets all the glory. That’s all anybody would’ve talked about … not the guy who’d got me there. I didn’t realize that until we were five rounds into the fight, and then you wouldn’t believe what I had to deal with after that.”

Jones said his dad was supposed to second Merkerson, but instead was “pushing Merk” out of the way during the fight in order to get more face time on camera. And all that alleged jockeying for position was, if RJJ is to be believed, the reason he lost to Tarver.

“People had no idea what was going on,” said Jones. “It was something I never expected. My dad agreed to stick to the plan, and he didn’t. When I came out after the fifth, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it, but I knew my dad didn’t deserve [any glory].”

Jones’ comments have generated a fair share of dissension among the ranks. According to the Pensacola News Journal, some boxing writers, like Tim Smith, insisted that “Jones is saying he deliberately lost a fight to spite his father.” On the flip side, Chuck Johnson of USA Today wrote that “The word ‘fix’ or ‘threw the fight’ never came out of his mouth.

It’s hard to believe that Jones would throw a fight simply to punish his dad, but considering the way he fought, or didn’t fight, against Tarver the last time out, those claims don’t seem as outlandish as they might.