Roy Jones Jr. "God's Game Rooster
By Martin Wade, BRC (Jan 3, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
Boxing is a brutal undertaking, and because of it, its pugilists can only truly be reconciled and navigated in the absolute present moment. Each man, no matter how gifted, no matter how wired to ignore punishment, is at risk of life-altering injury or worse. What further complicates the dichotomy between those who practice and those who “observe” is the emphasis on past and future. We, who love to observe boxing and speculate on a man's chances to elevate brutality to art form, rely on the past to gauge a pug and the future to project where he (or she) may one day situate. Fighters with “standing” and past
glory use “past” to develop deeply ingrained defense mechanisms to propagate and fend off the present moment. We, who enable and give audience to the delusion, are not really supporting the fighter’s battle against time, yet our own. Like the billion dollar youth industry fueling a generation of Americans suffering Dorian Gray syndrome, sports is a hotbed for commerce by nostalgia. And in no sport does nostalgia generate more commerce with little evidence of true value than boxing.

Roy Jones Jr. and I are about the same age, and like Roy, it wasn’t long ago that I could monologue endlessly about things I “would never do.” I took his words as seriously back then as young Mayweather's sycophants believe in their guy. Yet, unlike Roy, I’ve given Father Time his pound of flesh and focused my energy on transcendence instead. Roy, blessed with extra terrestrial skill in the ring (and acute shrewdness outside of it) is (like Holyfield) tortured with the mirage of mountains yet to climb. When you look at this marvelous specimen (Jones) take note; he’s been very rich and sequestered for the better part of two decades. Roy Jones believes in his heart “it” (life) is still about getting past this “challenge” (see fighter); but true
wisdom is getting past yourself. So on January 19th, and with help from another great warrior who can’t get over himself (Tito Trinidad), Roy Jones re-enters the stage Antonio Tarver yanked him from four years ago.

All great boxers are Frank Sinatra...

Ray Robinson, in his virtuoso brilliance, chaffed at the idea that this morbid concerto is what he was “born” to do. Ray Leonard’s detached retina, ego and box office appeal beckoned him like a toxic ex-spouse up until 1997, even his vanquisher (Camacho - 44 yrs. old) is currently talking up a fight. The best we have to offer as of 2008, Floyd Mayweather Jr., just commenced a pattern of post-fight retirements dating back three fights. And through it all, while Bernard withdrew promises to his mamma, Roy Jones Jr. tended to those fighting birds.

The fighting cocks, from which the southern icon drew inspiration and even stance from, were always there, reminding him of his roots and providing solace during his exile. Jones, violated by Olympic politics, led his career in the maniacal assurance that he’d never be victimized; he is now finding himself a captive of the ring. Rich beyond the imagination of even some “A list” fighters, Jones is finding that he is more fighting bird than any self-proclaimed “businessman” cares to admit. When Don King's consistent stalking of his last cash cow paid off, he knew he could count on Roy’s withdrawal symptoms to be at fever pitch. Tell me what deposed pound for pound great can resist seeing his building sized image in New York’s Times Square?

Now he values what used to bore him...

After learning what life was like on the “D list” Roy Jones has become as accessible and “promotable” as he ever was when he was “the man.” Gone are the frustrating great Gatsby like tendencies, in their place is a man clearly giddy to be relevant again. Roy’s speech on Friday Night Fights, analogous to his patented 16 punch staccatos, ranged from chastising Joe Cortez to shamelessly calling out Joe Calzaghe. For a man so grumpy leading up to his second and third fights with Antonio Tarver, Roy seems determined to soak up what remains of his athletic mortality. Roy even hinted as much while shooting around with New York’s lowly Knicks, the very tone of his “talk” centered on second chances. Floyd Mayweather should take note, because flirting with MMA, “sort of” promoting concerts and “playing” rap mogul won’t extend one's fistic prime. For fighters of this ilk lose what separated them from mere mortals imperceptibly and in micro tenths of a second. Roy Jones gleams with the contentment of a man at peace with loss, yet too afraid to try something new.

If God truly made him “game”...

We may not agree with the country boy’s ideals and values when it comes to animals, but one characteristic that remains is Roy’s veneration of God. When he glided from middleweight to heavyweight even the most self-absorbed Jones cited God's plan. This is probably why at this stage of life he seems more at peace with the idea that he was divinely called to use his fists. To sink to the level of breeding animals for combat one has to believe that there exist inherent traits for aggression. Roy, in his early years, believed he had his mother’s gentle spirit and it was that spirit that won’t allow the ring to retire him. It was that spirit that won’t allow him to visit Gerald McClellan, nor punish a man beyond constraint. Now we know the truth, that he is more like the man he defied than he will ever profess.

If he wins on January 19th (which I believe he will) he will enter into territory where his once supernatural athleticism would have rendered him unscathed. Like his roosters he will have to step up to the scratch and ultimately show that he is game. In watching one of the greats play out the string I am much like Roy watching his pit bulls. I’ve watched him “get down” from 1989-2003 maybe longer, but I can’t watch him past 2008; no, I don’t think I can take that.

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