Bunch of fives: the fights that defined Roy Jones Jr
Luke G. Williams
As Roy Jones Jr’s 75th and ‘final’ professional fight approaches, Luke G. Williams brings you his selection of the five most significant fights in the former pound for pound king’s career, with occasional comments from Jones himself courtesy of his rap single ‘Y’all Must’ve Forgot’ …
1. IBF middleweight title vs Bernard Hopkins, 22 May 1992 – won on points
Having been robbed of Olympic gold at the Seoul games in 1988, Jones Jr had accumulated a perfect professional record of 21-0 by the time he faced Bernard Hopkins (then 22-1) in what was the first world title fight for both men – the IBF strap having been vacated by James Toney, who was now campaigning at super middleweight. Taking place on the undercard of Riddick Bowe’s lineal / WBA world title defence against Jesse Ferguson, Jones proved too fast, wily and strong for ‘The Executioner’ widely outpointing him 116-112 on all three judges’ cards. “He’s a tough guy,” Jones said of Hopkins after the fight. “I think basically I outboxed him and stayed on the outside. He landed a couple of good shots but he never really had me hurt. I had a good time!” Jones later claimed he had fought with a fractured knuckle.
“When I beat Bernard Hopkins and won the IBF / The right was hurt beat him with the left / Ya'll Must've Forgot.”
2. IBF super middleweight title vs James Toney, 18 November 1994 – won on points
Jones entered this clash of unbeaten pound for pound contenders as a marginal 6-5 underdog. What was expected to be a tight, possibly titanic struggle actually turned out to be a one-sided exhibition as Jones bewildered a weight-drained Toney with his speed and skills. Quickfire combinations rained on ‘Lights Out’ who simply had no answer to Jones’ skills on the outside or ability to tie things up on the inside. A knockdown in the third round courtesy of a sharp Jones left underlined the Pensacola man’s dominance. “I knew my hands were so fast and my feet so quick that all I had to do was box,” Jones mused afterwards.
“You remember the left hook that James Toney got? / Sucker move I stole from a game cock / Ya'll Must've Forgot.”
3. WBC light heavyweight title vs Montell Griffin, 7 August 1997 – won by first-round KO
Griffin had controversially handed Jones his first loss in March 1997 via disqualification after the reigning champion had landed two punches on Griffin when he took a knee to “clear his head” after already being wobbled from absorbing several heavy Jones shots. A rematch was inevitable, and many thought it would be competitive, as the wily Griffin had given Jones some problems early on in the first contest, and was even ahead on one scorecard at the time of the stoppage. Motivated like never before in his career, Jones ruthlessly put Griffin to the sword within the first three minutes, a left hook sending him sprawling into the ropes before another left separated Griffin’s senses from his legs. “ I came back and took care of business,” declared Jones.
"I got disqualified in March of 97 / After giving a whooping to Montell Griffin / Late hit, my title, they had to take it / (Why) I guess that's the only way I could lose / Five months later, rematch, I needs my crown / 1st round, 1 punch and he sat down / Don't get me mad cause I'm amped already."
4. WBA heavyweight title vs John Ruiz, 1 March 2003 - won on points
Jones' audacious move to heavyweight saw him weigh in at just 193lbs, while reigning champion Ruiz tipped the scales at 226lbs. Despite the gulf in physical bulk, Jones boxed masterfully, using his hand speed and tactical acumen to make Ruiz look lumbering and inept. In the fourth Jones even hurt the reigning champion, bloodying his nose with a straight right. The victory made Jones only the second boxer in history - alongside Bob Fitzsimmons - to win world titles at both middle and heavyweight and solidified his place in boxing history.
5. WBC, WBA and lineal light heavyweight title vs Antonio Tarver, 15 May 2004 - lost by second round TKO
Having moved back down to the 175lbs light heavy limit after his sojourn at heavyweight, a weight-drained Jones had laboured to a majority decision victory against Tarver in November 2003. The inevitable rematch was as short as it was shocking - a stunning left from the challenger dumped Jones on the canvas, separated him from his senses and left him glassy eyed and unstable of feet. Referee Jay Nady waved the contest off and Jones' legacy had taken a considerable hit. He would never be the same again.
Roy Jones Jr's final fight (plus undercard of boxing / MMA contests) will stream live on UFC FIGHT PASS (download APP or desktop at ufcfightpass.com) on 8 February