Book Excerpt: 'Iceman Diaries'
12.06.05 - By "Iceman" John Scully: The following is an unedited excerpt from my soon-to-be-finished autobiography. The book will cover many, many aspects of amateur and professional boxing that I have been lucky enough to either witness or be a part of since I first started as a twelve year old back in 1980. I cover fights I have been at, of boxers I have met, sparred with and fought. I have chapters on Roy Jones, James Toney and Muhammad Ali. There will also be plenty of very unique pictures that I am quite sure all boxing fans will have some interest in.
Article posted on 12.06.2005
I plan to market this book as the realest boxing book out there, and I believe it will because one thing that will separate my book from most others is that I will tell people what it is really like to be a fighter and I will go into details of what a boxers goes through, whether it is in a fight with Michael Nunn or Henry Maske for the I.B.F. world title or in the gym with guys like Jones, Toney, Maske or Vinny Pazienza. Feel free to contact me to discuss the piece at IceJohnScully@aol.com.
UNEDITED: "The Evolution of Roy Jones, Jr."
The Evolution of ROY JONES JR:
The first time I ever HEARD about Roy Jones was at the 1986 National Golden Gloves in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Someone said to me "Jones is in the Finals at 139. That kid throws A LOT OF punches." The first time I ever SAW Roy Jones was in the 1987 National Golden Gloves in Knoxville, Tennessee when he fought my teammate, Anthony Daley. Roy scored a decision victory over the 6'1 New England Champion. I watched him on the first day in Knoxville because he was fighting Daley. Tony was a tall, awkward guy that could fight southpaw and right handed.
What I remember about the fight was late in the second round Roy caught Tony in the neutral corner with a left hook. Tony got hit and kind of froze in place for a couple seconds. Then he just kind of started falling sideways, going about 8 steps until he landed HARD all the way across the ring in the opposite corner. I had never seen a single punch have that kind of 'delayed reaction' effect on a guy other than when Tyson hit Berbick. Roy beat Tony and everyone else he fought that week. The thing that made me keep watching him was his style, in the ring and out.
What I remember is that he wore a white shirt with KNOXVILLE printed across the front (Even though he was from Florida, he was in Northern Florida and that part of the state as well as Boxers from surrounding states represented KNOXVILLE in the Nationals.), white trunks and white shoes along with a white headgear. I also remember that every time he fought that week, when the previous fight would end, he would come in the ring and begin loosening up. They hadn't even read the score cards of the previous bout yet and Roy would already be up in the ring while his opponent would still be outside the ring waiting for the guys that just got done fighting to get out.
In Amateur Boxing, the rules are very set and one is that you cannot enter the ring until both boxers from the previous bout have left the ring. I remember thinking "Who does this guy think he is"? Nobody ever said anything to him, though, and he did it every night. Sometimes I think back and I think it gave him a mental edge over his opposition that week. It was like he owned the place and that carried over from his confident attitude. That was OBVIOUS. Roy won 5 bouts that week including a Final round decision over future WBA Middleweight challenger Ray McElroy. I remember going home and telling my Father "You should see this kid from Knoxville. I'll be suprised if he doesn't make the Olympic team next year."
Of course, He DID make the Olympics the next year and set the ball in motion for what would turn out to be one of the great careers in Boxing history. The thing people remember is the Seoul Olympics that year and how BRILLIANT Roy was in those bouts. He defeated Future WBC 168lb. Champion Richie Woodhall early on and, in the Finals, he put on one of the ALL TIME Greatest amateur boxing displays when he thoroughly dominated Park Si-Hun. I remember watching that bout on tape and, even when you watch it NOW, you could see why a person would think that at the time he fought Hun he could have fought many top professionals and defeated them.
Take the Roy Jones that got robbed against Park Si Hun and put him in the ring right NOW with almost any Junior Middleweight in the WBA, WBC or IBF Top 10 from November 2003 and I will take Roy from those Olympics 90 percent of the time. There are VERY FEW amateur Boxers that I think could compete without pro seasoning against a Top 10 professional. Roy is one of them. I am not even SURE he could. But I am PRETTY sure he could. Now...with that all that said...here is the thing that may suprise you. Roy Jones Jr's LUCK as well as his gifts and skills is what got him on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Amateur Boxing Team.
In 1988 Roy was NOT the favorite 156 pounder of USA Boxing. In most people eyes, the USA Olympic spot at that weight would be filled by either Frank Liles or Tim Littles. Frank and Tim had fought each other several times, had been highly rated for several years and had been chosen by USA Boxing to represent the Country in numerous International dual meets. They were also #1 and #2 in the line-up of USA Boxing's Athlete representatives. Tim and Frank had both been in numerous International meets and had always fared very well in National events.
Both were former U.S. Champions. (That right there means more than you might realize. The USA / ABF sponsors the National Championships every year and the winner is always held in very high regard by them in terms of rankings and selection for Duel meets, etc.) Frank had represented the USA in the Pan American Games and both guys had fought against power houses like Russia and Cuba.
On top of that, at the USA Boxing Championships in early 1988, Roy was not only defeated by Frankie Liles but Frankie gave Roy the only standing 8 count I have ever seen him forced to take. A huge right hook wobbled Roy badly. I remember watching a different fight that was going on at the same time (in the Nationals there are three rings going at the same time) and hearing somebody say "Whoa!!!!!" I looked over and Roy was teetering sideways towards a neutral corner. (Frank had a wicked right hook. Just watching his 1996 KO of Tim Littles for the WBA title shows you how wicked). Frankie went on to win the whole tournament, beating Tim in the finals.
Later on in 1988, at the National Golden Gloves, Roy won his first three matches. The first one was a decision over Thomas Tate. He also scored a 3rd. round stoppage over defending National 165 pound Champion and Future NABF Champion Fabian Williams. Those victories set up a fight that someone should have taped for obvious reasons. The semifinal match was Roy Jones taking on Gerald McClellan. You would expect this fight to be very exciting. It was more than that. It was a WAR. One of the greatest examples of speed and power that I have seen in an amateur Boxing match. I remember that Roy was forced back to the ropes often in the fight but that what made the fight so thrilling was the way Roy would FURIOUSLY fight off the ropes with flurries. It was like watching two Olympic athletes fight for the Gold Medal or two guys going for the world professional championship.
Omaha World-Herald: "Two 1987 Champs, 156 pounder Roy L. Jones of Knoxville and 132 pound Donald Stokes of Louisiana, were eliminated last night.
Gerald McClellan of Milwaukee crowded Jones most of the first two rounds in pounding out a decision triumph. The 156 pound McClellan was there to slug with Jones from the opening bell, and carried the first round. Jones spent a lot of that time along the ropes.
Jones showed some movement in a fairly close second and then scored well in the early part of the third. McClellan was stronger at the finish when he again pounded Jones along the ropes and in a corner."
I saw Gerald a month later at Sugar Ray's training Camp in Maryland and he told me he wouldn't be able to spar for a while longer because his jaw was still hurting from the fight with Roy.
(A very interesting thing that came out of the relationship between Roy and Sugar is the fact that Roy Jones Sr. has a video tape of the two of them sparring each other. How much would a collector pay to view that tape?? I visited Pensacola in July of this year (2003) and, as usual, I stopped in to see Big Roy train the amateurs in the gym on his property. I brought up the tape and told him I know for sure that he could get that it on-line and make a good chunk of money selling copies of it. I had a guy that sells video tapes tell me that one of his biggest sellers was the 2 rounds of sparring he has on tape of Roy and I sparring as amateurs.
Imagine what Roy and Sugar Ray Leonard on tape would go for?? The funny thing... what is important to one person is not always important to another. Not only did Big Roy have no interest in parting with the video but I would be willing to guess that it would take him much more than a few minutes of searching his house to even find the thing. I guess after all he has seen his son do, the sparring is in some ways just another sparring session that is on tape somewhere.)
Next up for Roy was the 88' Eastern Trials. Much to my suprise, Roy entered this tournament at 147 pounds. My feeling at the time was that they knew what everybody else knew and that was that Liles and Littles were the two 156 pound favorites of USA Boxing. If Roy could make 147 he would likely have such a big physical advantage over all other 147's that they wouldn't be able to hold him off. That theory held true in the first bout when Roy walked right through some guy I had never seen before.
The problem was that making 147 was obviously very hard and on the second day of competition Roy failed to make weight and was disqualified. Normally, at this point, his Olympic Dream would have been all but over. The only chance Roy Jones had at this point of even making the Olympic Trails was as an At-Large entrant. Luckily for him, both Littles and Liles had already qualified by placing first and second in the U.S. Championships in March. In most peoples eyes , the at-large bid would come down to either Roy Jones or Gerald McClellan.
Now, what you have to understand is, to make the Olympic team you have to first qualify for the US Olympic Trials. There are eight spots for every weight class. However, non-Military guys can't get in through the Armed Forces tournament. So for a guy like Roy, the following are the possible ways he could have qualified for the final Trials:
1- Win the National Golden Gloves
2- Win Gold or Silver at the USA Championships
3- Win the Eastern US Olympic Trials
4- At -Large spot (a Boxer chosen by USA Boxing that didn't qualify but, they feel, deserves to be included)
Roy was eliminated in the Golden Gloves, USA Championships and the Eastern Trials. He did not qualify, of course, for the Western Trials or the Armed Forces. So, at this point, his only chance to even make the Trials, let alone the Olympics, was being chosen by USA Boxing as the 'At-Large' entrant. What that is, basically, is after all the spots are filled for the Olympic Trials every four years the USA Boxing Federation chooses one boxer that did not yet qualify but who they think it was a worthy entrant. In this case I would have to assume that in the closed door meeting it came down to Roy and Gerald McClellan.
To make a case for Gerald you can say that he did beat Roy just a few months prior in the Golden Gloves in a terrific battle and, in 1987, Gerald won the US Championships by beating USA favorite Tim Littles in the Finals. On the other side of the coin, you have Roy Jones who was a 2-time National Golden Gloves Champion, a Former Junior Olympic National Champion and, most importantly, Roy had the style that would be more likely to succeed in International competition. Both had fought Ray McElroy more than once and Gerald had lost to Ray at least once that I know of while Roy had defeated Ray twice. It should also be mentioned, and I am suprised how many people don't remember this, that Sugar Ray Leonard was seen as to having the inside track on signing Roy to a Pro contract once Roy was done with his amateur career.
Ray was also an advisor of sorts to USA Boxing, so there was a good connection there. In the end I think Gerald had a right to feel like he was the one that should have gotten the At Large spot in the Trials but, as far as Amateur Boxing goes, I think it was the right thing to do to put Roy in there. Obviously it turned out that way. In the 88 US Olympic Trials Roy won three bouts including a Final round match with Frank Liles. In the ensuing Olympic Box-Off between the Trials winner (Roy) and USA's 'most noteworthy challenger' (Liles), Roy again won a decision and it was off to Seoul.
There is not much point in repeating what you have heard and seen so many times in regard to the Gold Medal match with Park Si Hun. That was about as one-sided as you could imagine. In that particular fight Roy was as brilliant as anybody has been in such a high level Amateur bout. I remember later on, in 1992, Roy telling me that he knew they robbed him before the decision was even announced when he saw a bunch of South Koreans around a judges table smiling and celebrating. Watch the tape. When they are waiting for the decision to be announced and you see Roy put his hands on his waist? That is when he knew what was about to happen to him.
Up until 1988 I had never thought Roy was a puncher of any kind. The first guy to tell me he was a strong hitter was Lamar Parks when we were in Colorado for the U.S. Championships. Lamar had been in camp with Roy and Sugar Ray Leonard and when Roy's name came up he said "Man, Roy can PUNCH." I remember that kind of suprised me. Watching him fight I knew he was an exceptional boxer with great combinations and speed but he didn't LOOK like a puncher. When I got to Maryland three months later for a pre-Olympic camp held by Sugar Ray I got the chance to spar for several days with Roy, David Sewell and Razz Chapin.
When I sparred Roy he was a guy that moved a lot but I picked up right away that he wasn't a guy that was moving because he wanted to get out of the way as much as he was moving so he could check things out and wait for a chance to counter you. On the first day we sparred Roy hit me with a left hook to the body. (Back then some people used to call Lil' Roy "Captain Hook." I always thought, even as pros, that his overall best punch was his under-used left hook to the body. The same one he took out Glen Wolfe with) Lamar was right. Roy could punch hard. He was a sharp puncher to the head too but, to me, his left hook to the body was his best punch.
Remember as a Pro when he hit Glenn Wolfe with that vicious left hook to the body in the first round that ended the fight? Well, he had that back as an amateur, too. I was a 165 pounder and Roy was 156 so, before we sparred, I thought of myself as the bigger guy but right away I realized that my extra few pounds, especially in sparring, wouldn't make a huge difference. Because Roy chose to move a lot and box I knew I had to assume the role of the aggressor because if I didn't Roy was the type that was content with just boxing from way outside at his own pace. Plus, Sugar Ray was there every day watching the sparring so I wanted to show something.
You had to always be on your P's and Q's, though, because even when he was in his boxing-mode he was always able to stop on a dime and let loose and try to suprise you with fast and hard flurries that usually included right hand-left hook combinations that were very sharp. The fight in the Olympic finals where he got robbed of the Gold shows that combination at it's best. One of the best items I have from my Boxing career is a videotape of Roy and I sparring from that week. If you do a google.com search on-line you can definitely find someone that has a copy. Most of the rounds Roy and I boxed were very similar.
I would keep my hands up real high and go to him, trying to duck under punches and come in at different angles. Roy would box and try to set me up for hard punches from the outside. Sometimes fighters that box with each other know, without a spoken word, when to pick it up. At the end of most of the rounds we sparred, in the last 30 seconds, the pace gradually picked up until it was back and forth banging. Roy spent a lot of time on the ropes back then, just as he had against Gerald McClellan in their fight a month earlier. That was FUN. Watch the tape sometime. Real good action. I would throw hard shots to the head and body, especially the body, while Roy loaded up with nice flurries of punches. I would throw. He would throw. Back and forth. It was FUN. I watch the videotape even now and I love to see it, all the flurries at the end of the rounds. His punches were hard but that worked good because it made me tougher.
I knew that if he hit me and the punches were hard and I stayed away or backed up he would sense it and take advantage of that. So I made up my mind that no matter how hard he threw I needed to bite down and fight back hard to keep him from getting too comfortable. As you saw when he fought Park Si-Hun a couple months later, when he got comfortable, it was target practice for him. I had seen him able to do that in other bouts and I realized that I couldn't just sit and wait for him. The sparring went well and I felt like we definitely helped each other get ready for the upcoming Trials.
Going into the Trials that were coming up in a few weeks, I felt like Roy was the most talented guy at 156 pounds but he would have to go through equally stiff competition in Tim Littles and Frank Liles. He won the Trials at 156 pounds with a Final round decision over 'Fabulous' Frankie Liles (Liles had earlier eliminated Tim Littles by decision). In the Box-Off a couple weeks later, Roy again beat Frankie to secure his spot on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team. The rest, as they say, Is History.
After the Olympics were over it was time for everyone to make their pitch to Roy and his Dad to see who would end up as his Promoter. I have heard that Emmanuel Steward, Don King and all the others made their play. I myself, along with most of the guys that came up with Roy in the amateurs, assumed he was going to sign with Sugar Ray Leonard. I mean, I can remember at the 88' Nationals when Ray was on the local TV station in Colorado Springs talking about what a great prospect Roy was and when I was in camp with them it was pretty clear that Ray had the inside track on signing him up. Whatever happened, it ended up that Roy went into the game under the guidance of his Dad with the help of Pensacola Attorney's Stanley and Fred Levin.
Besides a stellar amateur career and a lifetime of diligent training, by the time he turned pro, Roy had already sparred with many professional boxers in the gyms including NABF Champion Ronnie Esset, IBF Champion Lindell Holmes and all-time great Sugar Ray Leonard. His pedigree was much stronger than that of the average kid about to embark on a professional career.
After a quick local pro debut in Pensacola Roy was quickly showcased in only his second pro fight in an EIGHT ROUNDER on NBC against a solid, if smaller, boxer from New York named Stephon Johnson. Johnson had a record of 10-2 at the time they fought and would later go on to win the USBA welterweight title. Against Roy though he was seriously overmatched. I have yet to see ANY amateur turn professional and, in only their second fight, against that quality of opposition look THAT good. Not Breland. Not Jermaine Taylor. Jeff Lacy. None of them. Get a tape of it sometime.
I thought Roy looked good enough and seasoned enough to fight almost any 154 pounder in the World. In fact, there was even talk that within his first year as a Pro he would go on to face one of the reigning World Champions at the time. His next fight was again on NBC and the comp level was raised even higher as Roy matched up with 16-1 Ron Amundsen out of Chicago. Amundsen had been a Top 10 International level amateur for the USA and his only loss as a Professional at the time was a TEN round decision to future WBC Champion Davey Hilton. Again, Roy looked spectacular in winning every round against his more experienced opponent, (Amundsen would also go on to win a USBA Championship in the near future) stopping him in the seventh round.
Here he was with only 3 professional bouts under his belt and he had already beaten two very solid opponents. People everywhere wanted to see him NOW against the very best. They don't have those type expectations NOW out of Taylor, Lacy, Rocky Juarez or any of the other Olympians. But back in 1989 Roy Jones, because he looked so good against his first three opponents, was expected to fight the best or be ridiculed. His Dad, for better or worse, pulled him off-TV and had him fighting to gain experience back in Pensacola.
Promoters and Boxing people all over the World claimed it was career suicide. The one thing that really stands out from that period was something his Dad said. To me, it made sense. "Lil' Roy could go ahead and win the Junior middleweight title right now. I know this. But, see, I don't want him to just win it. I want him to win it and keep it for a long time. That's a lot to ask of a 19 year old boy that grew up on a farm. Riddick and Mercer and these other boys are older and have been around more. Roy is a farm boy. He needs a little more time to grow enough to be able to handle that kind of pressure. You don't just want to win the title. You want to be seasoned enough and wise enough to keep it."
To me those were the words of a very wise man that was able to pull back and look at the big picture. The whole picture. Obviously he wasn't having his vision clouded by dollar signs. So much has been written and discussed about how Roy eventually broke away from his Dad and there is no reason to go into it again here. Everybody knows the story. I can only say that I know for a fact that Roy Jones, Jr. wouldn't be where he is today if it wasn't for his Dad and his Dad's training and wisdom. People said Roy wouldn't make it with his Dad in charge and after he broke away they said he wouldn't make it without signing his life away to the biggest promoters in the game.
In 1994 I went to Las Vegas for Roy's IBF title fight with James Lights Out Toney. After the fight, I went out with a group of guys including my friend Phil Rizzuto from back in Connecticut and my friend from Michigan that not only trained in the same gym with James but was a good fighter in his own right named Tarik 'The Arabian Prince' Salmaci. The next morning we were still up, hanging around the lobby of the Casino when at about 6:30am Roy came through the doors of the hotel and he stopped and talked for a few minutes on his way to the elevator.
All we talked about was the fight that ended about seven hours earlier. He seemed kind of tired and drained looking and sweaty so I didn't hold him up for too long. It never occurred to me that he was up for any reason in particular other than he just hadn't winded down from the fight yet. A few months later I read in a magazine about a post fight ritual he had that I never knew about and it dawned on me then what was going on that morning: He had just finished his early morning ROADWORK when I saw him in the hotel the morning after he beat James Toney.
*photo: 1991. Pensacola, Florida. training camp for ROY JONES-JORGE VACA. David McCluskey, Buster Drayton, Roy Jones, Stacy McSwain, Iceman John Scully, Booker T. Word, Reggie Johnson
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