Roy Jones Jr.: Speed Kills Both Ways
By Aladdin Freeman (September 28, 2004) 
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My high school coach used to always say that speed kills. There’s no substitute for being faster than the other guy, no way to practice against it; you either have it or you don’t. It’s all true, but what I wanted to know was what happens to those people who rely on speed and then one day they don’t have it anymore or everyone is as fast as them? Train wreck is the answer to that question.

When you are used to a physical advantage that you’ve been able to exploit in your favor for so many years and then all of sudden it’s gone what do you do? Some athletes, like the great Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers -who was Barry Sanders before there was a Barry- hurt his knee and came back to become a power runner. It proves that some are able to adjust, others aren’t, and never can they be the same or never do they find a skill that will allow them to be successful again much like Ki’Jana Carter, the former #1 draft pick for the Cincinnati Bengals.

For years Roy Jones Jr. was able to use his God given super speed, instincts, and reflexes to be able to overmatch any foe who ever step into the ring with him. Some people will say he did it against lesser opposition, but he still ALWAYS fought at a high level, never letting his opponents feel like they even had a chance against him. Watching Roy Jones Jr. Saturday night I felt pretty sad for him. He looks like an old fighter now that he has to stand flat footed and trade to be successful, and to be honest with you, there’s no way to train a chin and he’s never been one who wanted to be hit.

I remember him saying to Jim Lampley during an HBO telecast... “You're never going to see me in a fight like this...” I think it was the first Arturo Gatti - Ivan Robinson fight and he was right for a long time. We had never seen him in a war and now that he can’t move like he used to, Roy doesn’t know how to handle it.

I’ve never seen a guy who I thought for a long time was the best defensive fighter in the last 10 years, be hit so much, yet not adjust to it. Time and time again Roy Jones had his left hand down by his side, inviting Glen Johnson in to throw the right hand and it happened in 5th round and again when Roy Jones got knocked out in the 9th round. I know Roy Jones loves to lean on the ropes and let the other guy to go to work until Roy decides to throw some evil body shots to sap his opponent's strength -and he did this a little bit Saturday night- but on the whole, he never made Glen Johnson pay the way he made other guys back in the day.

I’ve heard a lot of reasons why Roy all of a sudden doesn’t look good, or looks old in the ring, but there is one thing I want you all to chew on. I may get a bunch of e-mails saying I’m crazy and I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I’m prepared to deal with that, but the fact is Roy Jones Jr. hasn’t been the same fighter since the news was broken that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids use when he fought Richard Hall in 2001. (Well, actually the cover-up of the whole incident was the real news breaking item). Also, remember during my interview with Hall I couldn’t believe how steroids could help a boxer out, but now I’m doing some second guessing myself.

Not to long ago Jones put on a lot of weight to fight John Ruiz and he looked awesome at that weight, he beat the hell out of Ruiz actually. He then had to take off the weight to fight Antonio Tarver and didn’t look good and this was when the story broke and the substance testing changed. Now that some Boxing Commissions are testing for what BALCO was providing these fighters and other substances, Roy Jones Jr. hasn’t looked the same and it hurts me to say that but it’s true.

Glen Johnson as a light heavyweight puncher will never be confused with Michael Moorer or Bob Foster or any other big puncher. He is, simply put, a volume puncher... All of a sudden he has one punch power. I know when you get hit behind the ear or anywhere near your temple you lose you equilibrium but Roy Jones was out could when that right hand hit him... And if you watch the tape closely you'll notice that it didn’t even land completely clean, then his head hit the mat which reportedly gave him a concussion. I don’t buy it, you can get old overnight.

I’ve seen many athletes, even the elite ones who keep themselves in top physical shape, all of a sudden become old. Wait till it happens to Barry Bonds, it might be later because Baseball doesn’t test for substances the way boxing does now. I’ll give you that Roy got old, but Roy hasn’t looked the same in the ring since the John Ruiz fight. When do you remember Roy Jones just standing in front of a guy doing nothing? He used to counter punch, pot shot, stick, move and roll out of the pocket so not to get hit; this isn’t him anymore.

In the first Tarver fight Roy was getting hit more than any of us had ever seen. In the second fight, after a very well fought first round on Roy’s part, he gets knocked out cold and now Glen Johnson, I repeat Glen Johnson, with a record of 41-9-2 with 28 KO’s takes Roy Jones Jr. out to the woodshed… There’s something wrong with that.

I hope for Roy Jones Jr. and his family’s sake that he walks away with everything intact. He was a great champion, the best Pound for Pound probably since 1993 and also someone who has helped carry the torch of boxing for fans young and old, but now it’s time for him to hang them up and walk away from the fight game and move on to greener pastures
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