In 1998 Peyton Manning was a rookie quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Manning, who will turn 40 this coming March, is now the backup quarterback, due to injury and sub-par play, for the Denver Broncos. In 1996 Kobe Bryant, who turned 37 four months ago, was a second string rookie shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant announced earlier this month that he’ll be retiring at the end of this season and Manning’s future is still undecided as to whether he’ll play during the 2016 NFL season. This coming January Roy Jones 62-9 (45), who made his professional boxing debut on May 6th of 1989, will turn 47. On the 12th of this month Roy was brutally knocked out in the fourth round by former fringe title holder Enzo Maccarinelli in Roy’s 71st bout.
If you follow sports you must know that Manning hasn’t been able to complete a pass to anyone but the defensive players of the Broncos opponents – and Bryant can’t hit the back of the rim let alone make a jump shot. At one time Manning played the quarterback position in the NFL perhaps better than any quarterback who has ever lived. Today you cringe every time he drops back to throw the ball knowing that the defensive player on the other team has as much of a chance to catch it as his favorite receiver and target Demaryius Thomas. These days when Bryant takes a shot the other players on the court step back and look to grab the rebound off of what most on the floor believe is a certain miss. And to think the player who most believe is greatest NBA player since Michael Jordan entered the league can no longer hit an uncontested jump shot is mind boggling. But father time catches up to everybody, that’s the surest bet in the world.
On November 8th 2003, Roy Jones won a controversial majority decision over WBC light heavyweight title holder Antonio Tarver in their first meeting to bring his record to 49-1. For the record, I had Jones edging out Tarver in the last two rounds to secure the decision legitimately. In fact Roy’s gallant stand during the final two rounds of the bout impressed me as much as anything Jones had ever done in a light heavyweight bout. Simply because he was weakened by the dramatic weight loss he’d been force to endure after beating John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title eight months earlier — and the outcome rode on the final two rounds and Roy was forced to suck it up like never before in his career and he did to eek past Tarver.
Had Jones decided to retire after beating Tarver, today he’d be considered one of the top-5 pound-for-pound greatest fighters in boxing history. In between the years 1989 and 2003, with the exception of Sugar Ray Leonard, Jones was the most gifted fighter/boxer I’ve seen since Muhammad Ali. Roy could do it all, box, punch with both hands, put punches together in blinding succession to the head and body and he was impossible to touch with a clean shot.
When fans even attempt to compare Floyd Mayweather to Roy Jones from a skill and talent vantage point, it’s a joke. Roy did everything better than Floyd but pick and choose his opposition. He beat Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, two first ballot hall of famers and all-time greats when they were in their prime, and in 24 rounds against them, maybe he lost five. Mayweather doesn’t own a single win on his record that equals Jones beating Hopkins let alone both he and Toney. And to think Roy dominated a quality heavyweight like Ruiz, who went 1-1-1 in three consecutive bouts with Evander Holyfield, and who was 50 pounds heavier than any other opponent Jones ever fought to capture a piece of the heavyweight title….was a career defining accomplishment
Now that I’ve made the case attesting to Jones greatness, it’s come to the point to where he could get seriously hurt and perhaps die if he continues to fight, something neither Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant risk by continuing to embarrass themselves throwing interceptions and missing shots during games. Roy has been stopped five times during his boxing career and all five times he either was devastated or took a bad beating. Ever since Jones dropped the weight (nearly 20 pounds of muscle) he put on to fight Ruiz and went back down to light heavyweight, his punch resistance has been basically non-existent. At the conclusion of his last bout versus Enzo Maccarinelli, 35, he looked to be left for dead on the ring canvas. Roy was down for more than five minutes and his legs tapped the canvas. The knockout was so devastating that Maccarinelli dropped to one knee in the ring as if he were saying a prayer that Jones would be okay.
Getting beat up and knocked out looks much worse than a washed up quarterback or shooting guard missing the target. ESPN, in fun for a joke, splices tapes together of Manning getting intercepted and Kobe missing shots, but they never do that regarding washed up fighters taking punches and getting knocked out – and that’s because their lives aren’t in jeopardy of ending when they walk onto the football field or basketball court.
Roy failing in the ring looks much worse than a former great football or basketball player not getting it done. Worse than that, Roy Jones’ life is at stake and he could get killed! Hopefully someone will find a way to save Roy from himself before it’s too late, because he cannot be counted on to save himself and the result of that could be tragic. We’re talking brain damage at the least or a crippling injury or death at the other end of the scale.
What drove Roy Jones to be a great pound-for-pound fighter during his prime is now detrimental to his health. Unlike Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant, Roy Jones doesn’t have to make the team in order to box. All he has to do is pass a state physical and his license is good. Unless someone in power figures out a way to deny Jones a boxing license, even on some sort of a technicality, I’m afraid Roy’s career may end under the saddest of circumstances.
Never have I wanted to be more wrong about a fighter!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com