Sharkie’s Machine: “Some Thoughts Before Roy Jones Jr. Fights Felix Trinidad”
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., Exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Jan 17, 2008) Photo © David Martin Warr/DKP  
On Saturday, January 19th,former Light Heavyweight Champion, Roy Jones Jr. (51-4, 38 KO’s) will face former Welterweight Champion, Felix Trinidad (42-2, 35 KO’s) at Madison Square Garden. They will fight at a catch weight of 170-pounds. This is a fight that Roy Jones Jr. has wanted for a long time. It will be on Pay-Per-View and the under cards will include Andrew Golota vs. Mike Mollo at Heavyweight, Roman Karmazin vs.Alex Bunema at Super Middleweight and DeMarcus Corley vs. Devon Alexander at Light Welterweight.

Back in 2001, just before Bernard Hopkins was set to fight Felix Trinidad, there was talk that Roy Jones Jr. would face the winner. The truth was he only wanted to fight Trinidad , who turned out to be the loser of that fight.

Hopkins beat Trinidad to the punch all night for 12 rounds,knocking Trinidad out in the twelfth round.Trinidad fans were stunned at the ease with which Hopkins neutralized him. Suddenly Jones true ambition became clear; never mind what Jones said before Hopkins vs. Trinidad, Jones only wanted to fight Trinidad .

In 2001 fans like myself were annoyed with Roy Jones’ typical choices of opponents. For the man referred to as the best fighter in boxing, his fights were predictable, boring and the competition was usually questionable. Some will say that it wasn’t Jones’ fault that the Light-Heavyweight division was so weak. But when it was opportune to jump up two weight classes to snatch up John Ruiz’ crown at Heavyweight, Jones wasted no time making that happen.

I recall when Roy Jones Jr.was electrifying. His ability to hit and not get hit was impressive. His unorthodox style relied heavily on his quick reflexes and timing. Unfortunately,most of his opponents were too old, too slow, too awkward and too easy for Jones to beat. We never saw him in trouble, never saw him have to rise up and come from behind, never
saw him show he could take it as well as he could dish it out—until 2004, when Antonio Tarver and later, journeyman Glen Johnson,knocked him out. Either Jones suddenly got real old real quick or fighting all those soft opponents finally caught up to Roy and he was ill prepared to handle top contenders who weren’t so impressed by his mystique. Glen Johnson won every round and knocked him out cold in the ninth round. It was clear that Jones’ speed and athleticism was faded and his chin for so long, untested.

Jones fought a rubber match with Tarver and lost an extremely boring 12 round decision that showcased the diminishment of Tarver’s talents next to Jones’.

The most competitive fight I ever saw Jones in was against Montell Griffin in 1997. Griffin gave Roy all he could handle for eight rounds until in the ninth, Roy scored a knockdown punch and while Griffin was down on a knee, Roy proceeded to hit him with clean shots to the face, forcing the referee to Disqualify Jones for hitting Griffin while he was down. It was obviously an intentional foul and Roy tried to justify it, saying that ‘ Griffin was, ‘crafty’ and he might’ve been playing possum’…playing possum? What, while he was down on a knee?

Jones suffered his first Loss and wasted no time arranging a rematch to be fought five months later. In that fight, Jones came right in and knocked Griffin out with the first two punches that sent Griffin from one side of the ring to the other. It was Roy ’s biggest statement fight, even more so than the asswhoopin’ he put on James Toney in 1994. The fine tuning of his image was complete.

By 2001, several years had passed since Jones was in an entertaining fight. Fans wanted Jones to face someone with some pop or some at least some credibility. Jones saw Trinidad vs. Hopkins as a marketing ploy to improve how he was being perceived by what are mindlessly referred to as, “haters.” If you followed a guy’s boxing career and he rarely fought competitive match ups and you said, “This guy does not fight tough fights so he don’t deserve to be so highly touted.” Does that mean you ‘hate’ the fighter?

Jones made his living in the entertainment industry. If he wasn’t doing enough entertaining, and you took notice, would that mean that you “hated” Roy Jones Jr.? We’ll all be saying, ‘quack, quack, quack’ soon if the English language dips any lower in terms of the value of words.

Roy said he wanted the winner of Hopkins vs. Trinidad and when put up or shut up time came, Roy used the negotiating process to prevent Hopkins vs. Jones II from happening. Roy wanted the lion’s share of the purse. Hopkins refused to accept the terms as unfair, since it was he, Hopkins, in his own mind, that was a bigger celebrity than Jones, who was coming off a string of wins over forgettable fighters like Richard Hall, Eric Harding, Derrick Harmon and Julio Gonzalez. And this was while Jones was being celebrated as the best fighter in the sport. If boxing is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ sport, Jones always got a free pass.

How you can be considered the best p4p fighter in the world, while never fighting the best competition in the world escapes me. One haunting question is how on Earth did Australia ’s Glen Kelly become Roy ’s mandatory in 2002?

Though Jones vs. Hopkins II never happened, it still has potential to happen. Hopkins is now campaigning at Light Heavyweight and is even ranked higher than Roy . It will probably happen in a few years, after both come out of retirement for a nice payday. Surely,it’ll be on PPV. So, be ready.

But now, thanks to an era in boxing where ‘better late than never’ is the edict of big name Pay-Per-View match making, Roy Jones Jr. will finally get to fight his dream fight against Felix “Tito” Trinidad at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden. You can bet the house will be sold out even though this fight is a decade too late and irrelevant, regardless who wins it.

Trinidad has fought twice in five years. He had a KO win over the undisciplined, Ricardo Mayorga and a loss to the defensive boxing maestro,Winky Wright. Against Wright, Trinidad looked lost in space. He couldn’t land anything clean and was beaten to the punch every time they traded. Wright made beating Trinidad look like child’s play, as he just jabbed and moved and scored all night long. It was like de ja vu of the Hopkins fight minus the knockout ending. Two days later, Trinidad announced he was retiring from boxing.

This will be Trinidad ’s second return from retirement and likely the last time we see him fight. Tito’s ring rust is going to be another aspect that favors Roy Jones Jr., who to his credit, has kept on fighting, if only once a year, since his fall from grace in 2004.

With the under card featuring Andrew Golota, Roman Karmazin and DeMarcus Corley, all fighting opponents they should easily beat,this PPV event is about as attractive as paying top dollar for a bunch of old fruits and rotting vegetables that are bound to make you sick.

Hopefully, I got it all wrong here. Let’s hope this turns out to be a good fight card in spite of what it looks like. And while we’re fantasizing, let’s also hope gas prices go back to $1.29 per gallon next week.

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