Roy Jones Jr – Pensacola Pride
By Tom Gray. (September 6, 2004) 
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The 15th of May 2004 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas became the first day of the rest of Roy Jones’ life. With one punch his invincibility tag was gone and the critics, who were rendered speechless by his previous success, now blasted back with loudspeakers. He was a fraud! He never had a chin! He dispatched nobodies his entire career! Darius Michalczewski would have knocked him out! He was no Sugar Ray Robinson!

Roy Jones has heard all of this and more and now embarks on the final stages of his career under heavy scrutiny. It is a tribute to Jones' star power that he is getting an immediate title shot against IBF champion Glengoffe Johnson after being blasted out in less than two rounds by Antonio Tarver. However, he has earned his right at redemption after being at the top of the pound-for-pound ranks for almost ten years, while winning multiple world titles from middleweight to heavyweight.

What is his mindset? I was stunned by the amount of e-mails I received that said Jones would now duck a third meeting with Tarver. I am of the opinion that Jones’ legacy will be permanently damaged, should he not renew ties with his Florida rival. Jones has enormous pride and a loss of that nature must fizzle within him. It is inconceivable that Jones acknowledges Tarver as the better man, because myself and many others thought the former pound-for-pound king deserved the decision in the first clash. In the second fight Jones looked far sharper, but was caught with a punch that would have knocked out most 175lb fighters. The rubber match is a natural, to find out unequivocally who the better fighter is.

His first step should be easy. He is going against a man who had four consecutive losses in 2000, against Sven Ottke, Syd Vanderpool, Silvio Branco and Omar Sheika. These guys are hardly terrible, but their skills pale in comparison to Jones, who should have massive edges in talent, speed, power, size, reflexes and any other boxing fundamentals that you can think of. Okay, the chin is more questionable than ever, but does Johnson hit anywhere near as hard as Tarver?

Glengoffe Johnson is a fabulous ambassador for the sport and if anyone deserved to get a title belt, then it was him. He has only been stopped once in fifty-one fights, by Bernard Hopkins, and has endured terrible decision losses throughout his career. He had to fight two bouts against Clinton Woods, despite having won the first fight in the opinion of most, only to earn a draw. He was very emotional after the second fight, when his dreams were realised, as he has struggled for both recognition and security. His purse for the Jones fight should at least secure the latter.

Jones, however, is in another dimension and despite his recent form, should blast Johnson out in the second half of the fight. I have nothing but respect for the IBF champion, but this is a bridge too far and Jones will have a field day. Being realistic, it is an excellent business move for both guys. Johnson will get a purse which easily eclipses four or five insignificant defences combined and has a shot at major glory. Jones would get another belt and puts himself in a strong position to negotiate with Tarver in a unification clash, should he want it.

My feeling is that Jones will smash Johnson without mercy and call out his only real conqueror. Tarver is having a hard time securing anything and proposed matches with Calzaghe, Briggs or a jump up in weight are all risk and no reward. It looks to me as though Tarver is waiting for Jones' next move and will react accordingly. I think a third clash is a lock for early next year, and win, lose or draw it should be Jones’ last fight. He is thirty-five years old and despite his laser-like speed and freakish skill, is still susceptible to age and wear.

It will be interesting to see how things unfold and at the very least the light heavyweight division is lively for once. Let’s hope it stays that way.
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