Remember those days when Roy Jones Jr. flew high above the competition like the Superman he claimed to be?
Those days are gone.
Kryptonite in the form of ageing legs has grounded the former high flying act of Jones but he insists Superman is back when he meets Puerto Rico’s Felix Trinidad (42-2, 35 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The affair will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
Jones, 39, can no longer speed across 10 feet of space in the blink of an eye, but still has a semblance of the hand speed to deliver his patented combinations.
But he’s not fighting Anthony Hanshaw or Prince Badi Ajamu who weren’t exactly powerhouses, now he’s facing a one-man wrecking crew who captured the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight world titles.
Trinidad can beat Jones because all it takes is one single punch.
It’s a fight that should have taken place seven years ago when Trinidad held the middleweight title and was about to face Jones in his next fight. But a man named Bernard Hopkins blocked Trinidad’s plans amid the smoking remains of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers.
Ready or not, it’s Jones versus Trinidad.
“Now I am back,” said Jones (51-4, 38 KOs). “My body is back to where I want it to be and I guarantee he (Trinidad) is not going to make 12 rounds with me.”
It’s too bad that Jones finally realized that he wasted his talent fighting the likes of Clinton Wood and Glen Kelly, when he could have faced Joe Calzaghe, Dariusz Michalczewski, James Toney or even Hopkins again.
It took a razzing from Antonio Tarver at a press conference immediately following Jones win over heavyweight John Ruiz that led the Florida boxer to accept that fight. And it was the extra muscle weight that took away his leg speed.
Knockouts by Tarver and Glen Johnson followed and Jones was left in the cold.
The weight gain of 20 pounds of muscle, then the subsequent weight loss put a strain on his legs and erased the cat-like quickness that was Jones trademark. Superman was grounded.
“That was a mistake,” said Jones of bulking up with muscle. “It took me a while to get back to where I feel good again.”
Jones took his show to the road and fought on little-known pay-per-view shows hosted in Mississippi and Idaho. Many boxing fans thought the Pensacola speedster had retired. Even his Teflon reputation took a burning.
But Jones is back and he claims to have recaptured the spring in his legs of 2003.
“It’s great to be able to do what I used to do,” said Jones.
Trinidad is back too
Following a humiliating loss to Winky Wright in 2005, Trinidad retired for the second time and returned to his island home in Puerto Rico. Only the diehard Trinidad fans thought he would lace up the gloves again.
“Everywhere I went people were screaming for me to be back in boxing,” said Trinidad, 35. “At the end, I made the decision to come back.”
Trinidad, 35, first retired in 2002 following a knockout of Hacine Cherifi. The fire was gone after losing to Hopkins the fight before. On the advice of his father, who trains him, Trinidad vowed he was through.
When he returned in 2004 to face Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga he showed flashes of the old Tito and battered the crazy Nicaraguan in eight rounds. Many clamored that Tito was better than ever.
With a large pro-Trinidad crowd on hand in Las Vegas eager to see the Puerto Rican slugger turn the lights out on Winky Wright, all that transpired was a one-sided beating. But it was Wright doing the hitting.
“I had a bad night,” Trinidad says. “One I would like to forget.”
It could be another bad night for Trinidad against the much bigger Jones. But the Trinidads obviously see a chink in Jones armor and are eager to exploit it. They sought out the former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight titleholder on one condition…drop down to 170.
The Pensacola flash hasn’t fought near that weight since he beat Otis Grant in 1998. Will the extra weight loss give Trinidad too much of an advantage?
“I’m not worried about it,” said Jones when he was in Los Angeles. “I’ve had enough time to take off the weight properly.”
Those extra five pounds could take the steam out of Jones who now fights off the ropes and uses his version of the rope-a-dope.
It could spell doom for Jones against the sledgehammer punches of Trinidad.
“Every time he has boxed someone that punches well, he was knocked out,” said Trinidad about Jones. “And I punch well. So lets see if he can stand in there with me.”
Now everybody is talking about knockouts.
It was Trinidad that asked to fight Jones who eagerly accepted.
“Roy Jones is the giant on the scene,” said Don King. “He is the biggest name and he has history attached to it.”
A win on either side puts that fighter back in the hunt for big game.
“This is what I missed during my leave, the feeling of a big victory,” Trinidad said.
Jones smiles when asked what a victory means for his career.
“I want whoever wants to fight me,” said Jones. “I had to learn the hard way.”