Roy Jones Jnr... The Way Things Could Have Been

20.12.05 - By Gary Evans: Roy Jones Jnr. defeated pound-for-pound star James Toney in November 1994, it's still his best career win by a distance. But he followed it up with a succession of fights against no-hopers, and so wasted his physical peak. Jones made five defences of his IBF super-middleweight title, but none of those five opponents were even in the world top ten at 168. Antoine Byrd had five losses on his record and was mediocre at best, Vinny Pazienza was a blown up lightweight who was still recovering from a broken neck, Tony Thornton had retired after his loss to James Toney in 1993 but came back out of retirement to fight Jones two years later, Eric Lucas was a petrified novice pro with under 20 wins, and Bryant Brannon was even worse!

Let's take a look at five opponents who Roy could easily of fought instead.

There was Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank who were very elite fighters at their best, there was also Michael Nunn and Frankie Liles who were classes above the opposition Roy was facing, and even Steve Collins was a class above any of Roy's challengers at 168.

Take Benn, Eubank, Nunn, Liles and Collins then compare it to Byrd, Pazienza, Thornton, Lucas and Brannon. You will notice that the former list resembles a Ferrari while the latter list resembles a Ford Pinto, a rusty Ford Pinto at that. At 175, a 40-year-old Mike McCallum, a very average Lou Del Valle and a washed-up Reggie Johnson is not exactly a very difficult route. I believe Roy wasted his great athletic talent. Here's what he could of done:

Roy Jones Jnr. vs. Michael Nunn, March 1995, Florida, USA (IBF super-middleweight title defence)

Nunn was a brilliant boxer back in the day, with speed and reflexes to rival a prime Roy Jones. But this was not 1988 anymore, by 1995 Nunn's speed and reflexes had diminished. But he was still 6ft3, still a slick southpaw, still posessing the good right jab and wicked counter left hand. He'd of given Roy a better run for his money than just about anybody he'd fought at that point. Nunn, in his prime, may of been able to outpoint Jones. But Roy's exceptional speed and reflexes in his prime, coinciding with Nunn very much fading, would cause Nunn to eat some leather early on in this fight and fade towards the end.

116-112 Jones, 117-110 Jones, 117-112 Jones

Roy Jones Jnr. vs. Nigel Benn, September 1995, Wembley Stadium, London (WBC/IBF super-middleweight unification fight)

Benn would of been Roy's most dangerous opponent, with stinging power in both hands and able to throw awkward punches, as well as having the heart of a lion. He was talented as well as aggressive, but lacked constant concentration and against Roy Jones in his prime you would pay for suddenly switching off at certain points. Benn could be tough to punch cleanly, he had alot of energy on the ropes and would duck low, but Roy's fast jabbing ability (watch the Pazienza fight), feints and his own fast power-punching in combination back then from weird angles would get Benn out of there probably in three to five rounds. Though dangerous, Benn was also brittle and vulnerable, and the Gerald McClellan war took his sharpness away.

Jones TKO4

Roy Jones Jnr. vs. Frankie Liles, January 1996, Madison Square Garden, New York (WBC/WBA/IBF super-middleweight unification fight)

Liles held a win over Roy in the amateurs, and was the only fighter up to that point to of even floored Roy in his life. Liles, like Nunn, was a 6 ft 3" southpaw and very much a world class operator. Liles had a terrific right hook, it was a very dangerous punch, just watch his 1996 KO of Tim Littles for proof. But Littles wasn't Roy Jones, and if Roy didn't get caught with a dangerous single shot then he should of outpointed Liles quite easily. Liles had slowed and faded from his amateur days, but would of been a much bigger threat to Roy that any of the other fighters Roy was facing around this time, and Roy knew it.

119-108 Jones, 118-109 Jones, 119-108 Jones

Roy Jones Jnr. vs. Steve Collins, June 1996, Florida, USA (WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO super-middleweight unification fight)

Collins was a durable son of a gun with determination to spare, he'd wear his damaged face after a Roy Jones fight as a badge of honour. Collins might of remained on his feet until the final bell, but he lacked speed and so would of had a heck of a tough time trying to win a round against Roy. Collins was all about planting himself at ring centre, getting on the inside, and trying to steal rounds on workrate. But ultimately Roy would of been far too fast and far too flashy for the courageous Collins. Stylistically, Roy is wrong for Collins because he never tires and he hits hard enough to wear you away over time.

120-110 Jones, 120-109 Jones, 120-109 Jones

Roy Jones Jnr. vs. Chris Eubank, October 1996, Florida, USA (WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO super-middleweight title defence)

Eubank, coming out of retirement following a double-loss to Steve Collins where he was out-worked and out-hussled in controversial decisions, is looking to make a spectacular comeback by upsetting the best fighter in the business. Eubank, though, was said to be dehydrated against Collins and Calzaghe. No doubt he would of had to drain his weight to make 168 for
a Roy Jones fight. Eubank may of had a better chance than anybody of defeating Roy in 1992 or 1993. But Eubank wasn't the incredibly slippery and awkward to nail fighter he was from 1989 to 1993 by the time he fought Collins in September 1995 and Calzaghe in October 1997, and although he probably wouldn't knock Eubank down Roy's counter punching from the outside and quick reflexes would give the slowed down showman a nightmare.

118-110 Jones, 118-110 Jones, 118-110 Jones

So there you have it, Roy could of well and truly cleared up at 168, the division that was arguably the most talented in boxing in the early to mid 90's. All of those five top class fighters I mentioned all wanted to fight Roy, but Roy for whatever reason didn't want to fight them. Roy Jones didn't dare to be great, he wouldn't accept a dangerous challenge in his prime. Ruiz and Tarver came too late. Roy Jones Jnr. wasted his great athletic talent.

Article posted on 20.12.2005

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