Philly’s Mike “MJ” Jones – A Roll of the Dice?
By Ken Hissner (May 29, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
Philadelphia’s best kept secret, unbeaten welterweight Mike “MJ” Jones may finally get the needed exposure he has been asking for on July 9th at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rumors are ShoBox may air this event. Peltz Boxing will promote the show but since Antwone Smith, 18-1-1 (10), of Miami, promoted by DiBella Entertainment is on the card it looks like Lou DiBella could be the force to bring in Showtime. He also promotes WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and the IBF’s #2 welterweight and former WBO light welter champion Randall Bailey.

Peltz has made it clear he will not share the promotional rights to Jones with anyone. Through Bob Arum’s Top Rank he was able to get Jones on an untelevised bout on an HBO card in his last fight. I have taken some heat for calling Peltz “the best club promoter in the country”. The days when he had Jeff Chandler, Tyrone Everett, Marvin Johnson, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Mike Rossman and Prince Charles Williams are long gone for Peltz Boxing.

In the 40 years Peltz has been promoting he has 12 world champions shown on his “hall of fame” site. He took over as director of the Spectrum in 1973 after promoting at the Blue Horizon. Peltz is 63 and well respected by the boxing scribes though Mike Everett, one of his former fighters just a week ago entered the PA HOF and made a remark how tough Peltz put him in. He didn’t mention getting an undeserved title bout in Thailand. Whether any of the former fighters Peltz promoted are sitting well financially is in question. Its known when you fight in Philly you make less but can be in tougher fights.

Jones is working an over night job at Home Depot thanks to his co-manager Doc Nowicki. He brought in a “boxing man” in Jimmy Williams to be his partner. The latter has been involved with the sport for years and is also is a well respected cut man with that “old school” attitude that is sorely missed in the game today. Nowicki is a likeable “charmer” who has been known to spoil a fighter or two. That could be growing thin waiting for that big payday that Jones is hoping to provide.

In the latest ratings of the four organizations Jones is #7 in both the WBC and IBF, while the latter’s May ratings are do out any day now. He is #3 in both the WBA and the WBO. At the recent PA HOF dinner Peltz “broke his silence” with this writer and said “I didn’t want him (Jones) ranked this high so soon”. He has a schedule and probably hasn’t shared it with anyone but with Mosley giving up his portion of the WBA title before losing to Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao possibly looking to get into the political field in his country in the Philippines one never knows who is going to be around a year from now. Jones is 27 with less than five years as a pro. “I think I’ve done a good job getting him ranked as high as I have,” said Peltz. It would be hard to disagree with that based upon the opponents Jones has faced.

Jones has that “old Philly style” and the fans in Philly and Atlantic City love it. The HBO people saw him on the recent Pavlik-Martinez undercard and he was a smash hit. I don’t know if they took into consideration the caliber of fighter he was in with or not but it served the purpose having him on the card. I have asked fellow reporters “if you had to pick out one or two of Jones toughest opponents who would it be?” I get the same blank look every time. Since 12 of the 22 (Irving Garcia next) opponents he has faced are Latino who can even say their names let alone remember them? I asked Peltz if his goal is to have Jones fight for the WBC Latino title. I almost got a smile from him. I like Jones and the people in his corner. Included is Vaughn Jackson his trainer, who seems to get lost in the shuffle when it comes to receiving credit for the success of Jones.
Let’s take a look at the current champions in the four organizations. The WBO has Pacquiao who Peltz would probably not let Jones in the same gym with at this time. The WBC has Andre Berto, from Miami. He is 26-0 (20) and was also brought along carefully. His first opponent with a good record was France’s Michel Trabant, 43-2-1, for the NABF title in 2008. How Trabant qualified I do not know. Four months later he is fighting Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 29-2, for the vacant WBC title. Now that’s what you call promoting your fighter. He has four defenses including Luis Collazo who no one looks good against. Ask Ricky Hatton. Two of his defenses were with overblown junior welterweights in Steve Forbes and Juan Urango. His latest defense in April was with former WBO champion Carlos Quintana after avoiding a fight with Shane Mosley. Again it was a smart move by his people. I asked Peltz if Berto was who he was planning to go after and he said, “Mike isn’t ready for him yet.” The IBF champion is Jan Zaveck, of Slovenia, 29-1 (17), fighting out of Germany. His people took a chance and went to South Africa and knocked out Isaac Hlatshwayo. That was December of 2009 and in April of 2010 in his first defense he stopped Rodolfo Martinez, 36-3-1, of Argentina, who last year came to Florida and lost to a 9-6-1 boxer who lost his next three fights. So it’s safe to say that Martinez was an easy opponent. Since Peltz does the matchmaking for Main Events in Newark, I asked Peltz if he had thoughts of fighting the IBF’s #1 contender Rafael Jackiwicz, of Poland. There is a big fan base of Polish people in Newark and this fighter is the only one to defeat Zaveck, in Poland by split decision in late 2008. Zaveck may have a mandatory defense coming up with the Pole or #2 Randall Bailey who won an elimination bout in March. Peltz not being a big risk taker when it comes to money it is doubtful he would try to bring the winner to Newark.

This leaves one direction Peltz may be heading. Mosley did not want to pay the WBA fee and Mayweather is looking for bigger things than another title, unless it’s moving up to 154 with WBC interim light middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. The current WBA champion is Yacheslav Senchenko, 30-0 (20), from the Ukraine. He has only fought away from home three times, twice in Russia and once in Monaco. He won the title in 2009 defeating Yuriy Nuzhnenko, then 28-0-1, also from the Ukraine. Senchenko’s first defense was last October against the OPBF champion Motoki Sasaki, 32-7-1, of Japan. His next defense will be against #12 Charlie Navarro, 18-3, of Venezuela in the Ukraine in August. With the #1 Souleymane M’Baye, of France defeating #2 Antonio Decarie, of Canada, in France Friday for the WBA Interim title he should be next. This will move Jones up to #2 ahead of Decarie.

Jones is scheduled to fight Irving Garcia, 17-4-3, in defense of his NABA and WBO NABO titles. Yes, another Latino, who is coming off a knockout loss a year ago. In looking over the record of Jones this is a pattern that I have to give Peltz credit for. A bunch of Latino’s with built up records is one thing but then I went fight for fight and was more surprised what I found. If Peltz can maneuver Jones into a title shot without fighting one contender he has done a masterful job as long as his fighter is ready. I have seen Jones given more of a fight by Julian Williams in the gym than most of his opponents have. Williams, a good prospect, was a 2009 PA Golden Gloves champion winning his debut fight in May.

As early as his third fight Jones faced Ronny Glover who was coming off a 1st round knockout loss. Next was Todd Dillon who never fought before or after going out in 1:00 of the 1st round. In his sixth fight he defeated Donnie Fosmire who had lost his previous five fights. Then he defeated Francisco Maldonado 11-25-4, who lost his three previous fights. In his ninth fight he stopped Doel Carrasquillo, who was rumored to be coming into the fight with a broken nose caused in training. Next up was Martinus Clay who was 0-4-1, in his previous five fights. Then Richard Hall, who lasted all of 1:38 and 0-6-1 in his last seven fights. Then former USBA lightweight champ Israel Cardona, who was coming in off a loss.

Jones was on ESPN2 against the last non Latino he fought in Germaine Sanders, who had lost his last two fights, including one with Atlantic City’s Shamone Alvarez. Sanders had Jones hurt in this one. Next would be Gilbert Venegas, who was 1-4-1, in his last six fights. Then Brazilian Juliano Ramos, with a 15-1 record was brought in. One of his victims was Jose Amaral, 0-34, now 1-54. Ramos had three six round bouts previously going into this 10 rounder. Two fights previously he was knocked out in 2 rounds but his 9-15-3 conqueror failed his drug test ruling it a no contest.

Jones would fight in Reading, PA, and meet Luciano Perez, 16-8-1, who had lost three of his last four fights. It was not a good fight for Jones who had Peltz noticeably upset at ringside along with this writer with Perez getting in some good shots early. In his last Philly appearance Jones beat Dairo Esalas, 31-15, who had lost his last five fights and had been stopped 10 times.

In August of 2009 Jones would have his first Atlantic City fight against Lenin Arroyo, 20-9-1, who had lost his last two fights but had never been stopped. He was an obvious junior welterweight. After 10 rounds of Jones beating on the head of Arroyo he won by decision. Next up would be Raul Pinzon, 16-3, from Colombia, who had been stopped in his last two fights including one by Saul Alvarez in 2:30 of the 1st.

In February of this year Jones met Henry Bruseles, 28-3-1, of Puerto Rico, who hadn’t lost since 2005 when Floyd Mayweather stopped him. Normally a junior welterweight, Bruseles had Jones towering over him at 6:00. This fight went the distance. In Jone’s last fight in April he defeated Hector Munoz, 18-2-1, who was coming off 18 months of inactive since a knockout loss to Decarie. This brings us up to Garcia who besides coming in off a knockout loss has three technical decision draws including several fights ago with Munoz. The bottom line is the mastermind behind these fights is J. Russell Peltz. You can see by this more than half of the win’s Jones has the opponent was at a disadvantage. Peltz is one of the top promoters and one of the few who serve as matchmaker for their own shows.

Granted there are fighters like Devin Rodriguez and Henry Crawford I am told that have turned down Jones. Larry Mosley (not Shawn) and Jones were on and off three times. With the exposure coming his way it will be even more difficult for Jones to get certain high quality opponents when Peltz feels he is ready. Peltz has made it an ongoing thing to bring in catchers and not throwers. The 5:05 Latino opponent is starting to wear thin on the fans and I am sure on Jones, too. He must realize in order to make money you have to take risks and his promoter like mentioned earlier is not known to be a risk taker. After 40 years of success at the level he has chosen I doubt Peltz is going to change now. One of the names mentioned in the past as a possible opponent was former IBF champion Joshua Clottey. The IBO title is held by Lovemore Ndou but they have Jones ranked #37. Other boxers among their 100 rated are Shamone Alvarez #20, Randall Bailey #21, and Roberto Garcia #30 who just lost to Antonio Margarito. Garcia was offered by his people and turned down in November of 2008. Granted the IBO ratings seem to have no reflection on the other four organization’s ratings. Examples are WBA’s #1 Soulemane M’Baye is #28 in the light welterweights and #2 Antonio Decarie #47. WBO’s #1 Kell Brook is #25. The WBC’s #4 Ivan Kirpa is #46. The IBF’s #8 Hector Saldivia is #28 and #9 Jackson Bonsu is #27. The most blearing is Philly’s Demitrius Hopkins #14 who after 15 months of inactivity moved up to 147 defeating Jesse Feliciano. Somehow I can’t imagine Hopkins getting in the ring with Mike Jones after his performance two fights ago in losing to Kendall Holt for the WBO light welterweight title.

I was talking to Shamone Alvarez, 21-2, of Atlantic City at Bally’s Saturday night during the Teon Kennedy fight. He claims he was promised if he won in March after Jones had won in February they would meet. Instead Alvarez was asked to fight on the Jones undercard against Antwone Smith who turned Jones down. “I doubt if Smith will fight me,” said Alvarez. When this writer asked Peltz last year about Alvarez he said he wasn’t interested in putting Jones in with Alvarez. Since Jones has “invaded” the hometown of Alvarez and he is a Latino it would be very befitting for this fight to take place. Being a cagey southpaw and losing a controversial fight to Delvin Rodriguez IBF title eliminator a year ago, Alvarez would certainly be better than anyone Jones has been in with.

The rumors have Jones possibly fighting Saul Alvarez, 32-0-1 (24), after the Garcia fight. You never heard his name mentioned until he looked so ordinary on the undercard of Mayweather and Mosley. Alvarez is only 19, but rated #3 by the WBC, #4 by the WBO and #5 by the WBA. He would be the first rated fighter Jones has met.

After the WBA title bout between champion Senchenko and Navarro in August and possibly around December the M’Baye and Decarie winner being next, Jones could be fighting for that title this time next year if he gets by Garcia and Alvarez. The concern here is will he be ready? It will take a bigger risk taker than Peltz to bring in Senchenko. If that’s the case probably Top Rank or DiBella Entertainment may enter the picture.

If Jones has to fight out of the country he would probably need a knockout to bring the title back to the US. Jones has lightning quick hands and an excellent jab. He is a hard worker in the gym and if he has a flaw it’s he is a “babe magnet”! There have been many a fighter’s careers ended early or never reaching their full potential due to this problem. In the ring Jones is tall, lean and mean, and has the look’s that attracts the females. Philly is in need of another “headliner” and Jones could be just that fighter and nothing would be better than to hear “and the new WBA world welterweight champion, Mike “MJ” Jones! With a little luck it will be held in Atlantic City where with a “roll of the dice” anyone can be a winner!

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