Tito vs. RJJ – A Guilty Pleasure
By Chris Ackerman (Jan 19, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © David Martin Warr/DKP)        
Almost universally panned by critics, analysts, writers and fans, this Saturday’s fight between two legends has been dismissed as meaningless, pointless, a disgrace, a black eye for the sport and a complete waste of time and money. Both men are over the hill, shadows of their former selves, looking for one final big paycheck and moment in the sun at the expense of the legitimacy of the sport and the loyalty and financial well-being of their fans. How dare they, right?

With all the overwhelming negativity being generated over this so-called fiasco, it might be worthwhile to swing by the dollar store, pick up a pair of rose-coloured glasses and take another look.

The fact is, 2007 was an amazing year for the sport. There were memorable moments, great matchups, emerging superstars and scintillating wars at the upper levels. It was enough to put a warm glowing warming glow into the frozen hearts of all the crazy fans who spring for PPV before paying the heating bill. Enter 2008, full of promise but for some reason starting off on this sour and bitter note, even after we all got to see one of the sickest right hands in years put a guy through the ropes. Tough crowd. Is Jones vs. Trinidad really as bad as all that?

Even if I concede every depressing point against each man and this matchup, I still do not feel like I am being led down the country road or sold a bill of goods.

Felix Trinidad had his best days at 147 where unholy power and underrated speed allowed him to steamroll right on through. 160 was a brick wall. With only two fights in almost 6 years, he is tin woodsman rusty. His chin was never great to start with and his predictable, methodical and sluggish one-two against Winky was almost embarrassing so how, at 170 pounds without his murderous mitts to rely on, can he possibly handle Roy Jones Jr.?

Well, because Roy Jones Jr. is a shadow of his former self. He is old, shot, has a glass jaw, no reflexes, overrated based on underwhelming competition, depleted from Balco juice and just in it for the paycheck. Plus he is coming down to a weight that will be very difficult for him to make and will be weak a la his post Ruiz light heavyweight era. He will foolishly back himself into the ropes where Tito will be able to get off.

That seems to be the consensus breakdown of these two sinister geriatrics who are colluding to relieve us of our stack while reliving their long lost glory days. But hold on a second, here. Why not look at this a little optimistically instead of adopting the usual cynical viewpoint that seems to always plague our sport?

Don King sells snakeoil. Anyone who doesn’t know that is either brain dead, hasn’t been paying attention, believes Hillary’s tears were real…or all of the above. This fight isn’t for all the marbles, it isn’t for a #1 contender spot, it isn’t even between two prime guys hungry for titles and the big money. But it is between two fighters who once topped the P4P list, gave us innumerable moments of vicarious highs and lows and put their stamp on a sport, proving modern greatness is achievable. If, at the very worst, they decide to put on an exhibition, and we aren’t fooled into believing it’s anything more then what’s the harm?

But (rose-coloured glasses), maybe it is more. It’s not like either fighter will be the oldest active guy out there having some success. Yes, Trinidad has been out of the ring since 2005…but didn’t you miss him? What if he’s ready? What if his punching power does still exist and he is able to land effectively? What if Felix Trinidad knocks out Roy Jones in a war? What if he then drops down to 160 or 168 and looks for a fight? Anyone who hasn’t, in their deepest heart of hearts, imagined some of these scenarios is dead inside.

Roy Jones just turned 39 years old. When is the last time anyone heard him talk as excitedly, honestly and humbly about himself and the sport as he has of late? When is the last time he was a smiling, jocular ringside presence who seemed truly happy and content? When is the last time anyone saw such an ugly sweater? What if Roy Jones is fit, healthy, hungry, really enjoying the sport of boxing and serious about testing himself? What if RJJ cleans out Tito in impressive fashion and looks like his old self all the while? What if he gets on a plane bound for Wales? Anyone who hasn’t at least conceived of the possibilities, regardless of whether you admit it or simply chastise yourself silently for such foolishness, is too scared to dream for fear of waking.

Maybe everyone is right, maybe this is a stinker that should only have been made 7 or more years ago when it might have meant something. Maybe it’ll be a snooze fest, maybe both guys are old and shot and rusty shells of former greatness and maybe it’s disgraceful. But maybe not. Maybe it will be a great fight. Maybe something will come from it. Or maybe it will just be fun to watch these two all-time titans step in the ring one more time. Maybe it will have some exciting moments and be a feel-good night for the fighters and fans. Isn’t that enough?

Questions or comments,
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Chris at: chrisackerman@hotmail.com
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This article was provided by our good friend Elisa Harrison of BraggingRightsCorner.com.





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