Boxing


'Call Em Out Fridays': Roy Jones Jr. - Is this the end of an era?

roy jones jr.20.03.09 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'C.E.O. Fridays' we shine the spotlight on arguably the most talented figure in the sport over the last few decades. His speed, reflexes, and overall talent once made him impossible to hit, let alone defeat. As we often learn in life, "what goes up must soon come down"; and when reviewing the story line of the great Roy Jones jr., some may say that adage could never be more pronounced. As he prepares for a homecoming bout in Pensacola, Florida this weekend, many around the world of boxing openly question whether or not this is in fact the end? Despite his humbling defeat to Joe Calzaghe, his supporters parallel that question with one of their own which boldly ask "why should it be"? As we pick those arguments apart, like each of my other 'C.E.O. Fridays', we'll spin the topic full circle by viewing the 'supporters' perspective, the 'critics' perspective, and in the end, the truth in a more 'neutral' perspective. So with no further ado, we now hone in on the legendary Roy Jones jr.......

Roy Jones jr. - (Supportive Perspective): The sport of boxing has seen many characters over the years, but those who have stood out the most came to this earth equipped with four essential ingredients: Super-natural talent, relentless execution, an undying will to win, and a very innate ability to entertain while performing the other three. Muhammad Ali and a young "Iron" Mike Tyson exemplified those qualities better than most, but remaining close in proximity at all time was the legendary Roy Jones jr., whose razzle dazzle in the boots with tassels never failed to meet the mark. Rarely in the history of the sport have we seen a 12 punch combination, and nearly every time that we have, it was initiated by him. Blinding speed, reflexes of a cat, power in both hands, and punching precision only rivaled by a heat seeking missile. To see Jones go consecutive fights for months - (even years at a time) - and barely lose one round was somewhat the norm in his heyday. One of the most memorable events of his career was the time when he participated in a full court basketball game on the same day he defended his IBF Super-Middleweight strap against Eric Lucas. When interviewed by Sports Illustrated, Jones stated that he "woke up early (that day), restless like it was Christmas morning". After taking part in the full regulation basketball game, Jones snoozed for an hour and a half, watched some clips of Mexican great Salvador Sanchez, stepped in the ring against Eric Lucas, and performed so brilliantly that his Mother, Carol, had to ask his sister Tiffany during the 6th round "has that man hit your brother yet"? That type of Superman effort made it no coincidence how he earned that very same nickname, and those heroics were part of an every-fight affair with Jones. When reminiscing on his prime, some argue that the sport has never been graced with a more complete talent. Trouble is, those memories of his prime are now but a faded picture from a broken past. At age 40 and facing the 'westside' of his career, the recent struggles have given his critics more than enough to chew on. To open that can of worms, we now hone in on their angle....

Roy Jones jr. - (Critics Perspective): Everything in life faces some type of evolution. As great as Roy Jones jr. was, he too would learn that unlikely fate as Father-time has come knocking, maybe even more than once depending on who you ask. In the case of Roy Jones jr. it's safe to say that what went up has unfortunately not only come down, but the crash he sustained when doing so is perhaps too much to repair a body of armor that is probably no longer fit for combat. It's a proven fact that the power is the last thing to go in a great fighter, but few discuss the fact that it's the reflexes to go first, despite them being more critical to the end goal. Roy Jones jr. has always been loyal to his cornerman Alton Merkerson because in modern day vernacular, he "keeps it real" with him like family. That truth exposed a far more profound truth, as some may remember Merkerson stating before the humbling Antonio Tarver loss that he felt "Jones' reflexes were changing", and that he was "getting hit with shots he didn't used to get hit with". That statement - which was made at a point deep into training camp - could not have been any more prophetic as those very same reflexes failed Jones to the point in which he suffered not only one KO, but two within a very short period of time, removing that veil of invincibility most felt he had. Ever since that point, many have viewed Jones to be in a stiff decline, failing to defeat anyone meaningful beyond that point. To his critics, it seems that even when he wins, he in fact loses. This train of thought was evidenced in the fact that most viewed his lost to Calzaghe as a moral victory for him for the simple fact that for once in a long while, he was able to go the distance with a formidable foe. Many of us saw it as a valiant effort, but it's hard to erase any statement based on a fact. At the end of the day, the supportive and critic driven sides are little more than fan rave best presented by those who dwell in those thoughts. To get a more sound perspective, we cut things down the middle, and take a look at a more neutral angle.....

Roy Jones jr. - (Neutral Perspective): When you really take a look at things for what they are with Roy Jones jr., the answer can probably be found right before your eyes. His critics have questioned his heart, yet in his deepest moments of adversity, he's still trying to climb to the top by doing what they always said he can't - which is fight through the pain and agony of defeat. None of us can argue the fact that his reflexes are no longer what they were. None of us can argue the fact that his overall skill level is no longer what it was. But when Michael Jordan loss strength in his legs, he stopped the highlight reel dunks and polished his jumpshot. Results.....he was just as deadly. It's totally unfair to argue the heart of a champion because that will to win can make a man jump a mountain. What we can argue is whether or not his desire today is what it was yesterday, because the day he climbed the top of the mountain was the day he became a changed man. Had Jones walked away from the sport after defeating Ruiz for his portion of the heavyweight strap, we would be talking about him as the best fighter to EVER lace up a pair. Unfortunately, his quest to do more when his heart was no longer in it made others begin to view him as less. In an era of the sport where guys swap weight classes like a V-Rod changin' lanes on a vacant highway, it's considered common to find that as the norm. For Roy Jones jr., it propelled his career to it's greatest height, yet tore it down to it's lowest point at the same time. Consider this....he's 18-5, with 9KO's when fighting above the super-middleweight division (169lbs or greater), and 34-0, 30KO's as a super-middleweight (168lbs) and below. So in fact, both his greatest accomplishments and his worst career moments came when he attempted to go the extra mile. The moral of my story, despite his short-comings, none of us can truthfully get down on Roy for trying to take himself to new heights. It's human nature to favor going the extra mile; it's not human nature to accurately gauge when there's simply not enough left in the tank to get us there. If he does decide to walk away after Saturday night, win, lose, or draw, Champ, thanks for the memories, and blessings to you and those closest to you! Peace.....

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, follow more of his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show some love at Myspace and Facebook).

Article posted on 20.03.2009



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