It is important to be optimistic in this fight game. Sometimes positive energy is all that keeps the sport of boxing afloat. When people bash the sport, the hopeful find reasons to cheer.
This past Saturday, Roy Jones the best fighter of his time, defeated Jeff Lacy in ten lopsided rounds. Two days later, the news broke out that Jones has agreed to fight Danny Green on November 21st in Australia.
I have nothing against Danny Green. He might knock Jones out in the first round. But with all due respect, a victory over Danny Green does little for the credentials of Roy Jones Jr.
The average fight fan, you know the type that only comes out of the closet to watch a Pacquiao, Mayweather, or De la Hoya fight, they look at this headline and must be asking who Danny Green is, and why is Jones going to Australia to fight him? If Jay Leno did one of his Jaywalking skits to answer that question he would come up with two common answers.
Jay Leno: “Sir, welcome to Hollywood, can you please tell me who Danny Green is?” One of the answers would be, “Danny WHO???”
And the other answer would be “Oh, Danny Green, I know him. Doesn't he play for the Celtics?”
Then Jay Leno would respond by saying, “Actually, Danny Green, the basketball player, is a rookie that plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, we are asking about Danny Green the 27-3 Australian boxer.” Leno would ask again, “So you don’t know who he is, right?” The tourist would reply, “No I’m sorry, I don’t know him.”
One can argue that as long as Jones is healthy, winning, and drawing fans to the box office, we cannot blame him for continuing to fight whether its against Danny Green or Danny Tanner.
The counterpoint can be that Jones is one punch away from being a walking vegetable. (Especially after knockout losses to Tarver and Johnson, and getting beat down by Joe Calzaghe.) However, all fighters are one punch away from being hurt seriously. Jones is past his prime without a doubt, and he is in the boxing news today more because of the strength of his name than his Pound for Pound status. And status in sports means almost as much as ability.
I touched on the importance of respecting our boxing heroes in an article that I wrote last year.
I argued that in others sports, athletes that are past their prime like Brett Favre and Cal Ripken earn praise for what they accomplish at 40 years old, but a 40 year old Roy Jones is considered by some a disgrace because he continues to compete in a sport that at times worships only the frontrunners and disregards past champions.
Why should we bash Roy Jones? Is he brain dead? No.
Is he still entertaining a portion of the boxing community? Yes.
The Jones critics have some truth on their side. His victory over Jeff Lacy has brought more questions than answers. But they are not all necessarily bad ones. Did Roy Jones turn back the clock for good? Has his cockiness in the ring, brash attitude, and so called new comfort zone of being “careless” during his fights give him new life? No one truly knows for sure, and that is the beauty of the sport.
Perhaps the best part about boxing is the unpredictability. Almost every fighter has a puncher's chance to win. This means that they are one punch away from a knockout victory. Think back to your favorite fighters that you cheered during a one sided defeated. Even when Mike Tyson was getting pummeled by Lennox Lewis, Tyson fans were hoping that he would land that one magic shot to turn his fate. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Terry Norris, Tito Trinidad vs. Bernard Hopkins, and Roy Jones Jr. vs. Joe Calzaghe, these were all one sided defeats for fan friendly fighters.
If he retired today, Jones has little to be ashamed of. But if he continues to fight there is only one opponent the sports world would like to see him square up against, and his name is not Danny Green, it is Bernard Hopkins.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones II is the only fight that acquires mainstream public attention for the both of them.
(Jones haters, take a step back, I said the sports world in general would like to see this fight, not the boxing world.)
Time is running out for Roy Jones to fight Bernard Hopkins again. Now is the time for them to put the egos aside and put the gloves on. Today, Hopkins cannot find an opponent worthy enough to step into the ring with, and Jones is building momentum defeating overmatched fighters.
Both Hopkins and Jones are past 40 years old, but a fight between them would interest more than just the boxing faithful. Some of my greatest debates about boxing are with halfhearted fight fans that love the sport but continue to discuss the glory days of Mike Tyson and classic fights like Gatti-Ward I instead of current boxing stars. They are searching for something new to spark their interests in boxing but seem to always talk about the same names; Tyson, Holyfield, Foreman, De la Hoya, Vargas, Trinidad, just to name a few. Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins come into the discussions as well.
Take my friend Gilbert for example. On Saturday afternoon when I informed him about my plans to watch Roy Jones fight Jeff Lacy, Gilbert did not sound very thrilled. He said, “Man, how many people in the world do you think are excited to watch that fight?” I could not argue with the guy.
But, if Jones and Hopkins agreed to fight each other, Gilbert would join me in front of the tube. Why, you ask? It is because the sport of boxing has built a platform of stories on miracle comebacks. James Braddock's fight against poverty, Joe Louis destroying Max Schmeling, Muhammad Ali beating George Foreman, and Evander Holyfield beating Mike Tyson for the first time, these were fights that brought people closer to the sport of boxing. Hell, they make movies about these types of stories.
Now, there are obvious roadblocks before the Boxing Gods grant my wish and create another Hopkins/Jones fight. Bernard Hopkins is in negotiations to fight cruiserweight champion Thomas Adamek in early 2010. It is a challenging fight for the Executioner that would question his strength and stamina. And Jones is tentatively scheduled to fight Danny Green at the end of the year. In my opinion, Jones and Hopkins will win those fights if they happen. Maybe then the interest level would rise from the boxing faithful for a Hopkins vs. Jones rematch fight and it would draw even more interest from the general public.
They could call it the Retirement Match, just like Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair on Monday Night Raw in 1993, which is ironically, and sadly, the same year Jones and Hopkins fought for the first time. (What a coincidence right?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdL57RjFn2A
It would be a match of epic proportions. And it would be fun to watch. Who cares who wins? It does not really hurt the sport, win or lose for either fighter. Think about the trash talking, the pre-fight hype, the 60-40 money talk, and the outrageous predictions. It would be awesome and worthy entertainment. The critics could say what they will about Jones being a washed up fighter. But if he agreed to a fight with Hopkins it would gather interest for the sport. And HBO can use the fight as a platform to promote the up and coming fighters in their stable.
The fight has to be on HBO. If it became a PPV show hardly any of the halfhearted fans would throw down money to watch. Here is an idea to help HBO promote the fight and their future prospects. Put Jones and Hopkins on a fight card televised by HBO, and place some of the best young fighters on the undercard. Late night drama shows use this formula all of the time. It is like Beverly Hills 90210 promoting Melrose Place. Dylan McKay dates a girl from Melrose Place, a Melrose Place character comes to McKay’s high school and calls him out to a fight, and the rest is history. 90210 fans are watching Melrose Place, and Melrose Place fans are watching 90210, television magic at its finest. If only it were that simple. When and if the boxing world uses this logic Gilbert and the rest of the heartbreakers would be pleased, I know they would.