30.07.06 - By Geoffrey Ciani: At the onset of his bout against Roy Jones Jr., Prince Badi Ajuma attacked Jones and unleashed a furious attack. He backed Jones against the ropes and began punching away, connecting several nice shots in the process; Jones did not seem to like it. Prince Badi Ajuma had the right game plan: Pressure. Unfortunately, he did not have the necessary tools to execute the game plan. Thatís why this fight happened in the first place. Ajuma was a carefully picked opponent..
At first glance, it appears that Ajuma was a legitimate top ten contender in the light heavyweight division. Coming into last nightís bout, Ajuma had a seemingly impressive record of 25 wins versus two losses and a draw. Closer examination of his fight resume, however, is damning. His record lacks any noteworthy victories. Even worse, he dropped decisions against Otis Grant and Rico Hoye. In the context of this fight, he may as well have lost to Otis Redding and Rico Suave.
After dropping the first round, Jones regrouped and began to take control of the fight. It seemed to be more a matter of what Ajuma wasnít doing as opposed to what Jones was doing. To be sure, Ajuma had neither the discipline nor the endurance to stick with what worked so well in the first round. Instead of attacking, he became lackadaisical and did nothing but stand right in front of Jones. With his opponent no longer a threat, Jones was able to do what Jones does best: Pot shot from the outside, while remaining at a safe distance.
Indeed, this was ďvintageĒ Jones. He outclassed an inferior opponent by utilizing his natural advantages in speed and reflexes. But this time, Jones hardly looked spectacular. In fact, he looked very ordinary against a very ordinary opponent. Ajuma lacked power. He also had a shoddy defense and wasnít able to put his punches together. Most importantly, he was unable to apply pressure. In order to beat Jones, one needs to apply more pressureóor at the very least, have power to make Jones think twice about opening himself up to counters.
The simple truth is: This fight happened for one reason, and that was to make Jones look good. But Jones didnít look especially good. This, despite the fact that referee, Jerry Armstrong, continuously stopped the action, preventing Ajuma from even trying to stick with his game plan. As the fight went on, Ajuma actually started to re-apply the pressure in the later rounds, but each time he did so, Armstrong would jump in and stop the action Ė oftentimes when there was no holding. I doubt this would have made much of a difference in the outcome.
To be fair, Jones may have deserved an easy fight, having lost his last three in a row. Even worse, he wasnít competitive in any of them. Being knocked out by Antonio Tarver and dominated and stopped by Glenncoffe Johnson must have been brutal back-to-back blows on Jonesís ego. Even worse, in his rubber match with Tarver, he not only lost a lop-sided decision but he also seemed most reluctant to fight. He never even tried to win! Instead, he seemed content on lasting the distance unscathed. As has been a trademark of his entire career, he never dared to be great.
So where does Jones go from here? Frankly, I think he ought to retire. True, he may be able to win another title, but at this point it will do very little to enhance his legacy. That Clinton Woods holds a portion of the light-heavyweight title means itís Jones for the taking. But what would that prove? Nothing more than that he can win another alphabet title. Heís won plenty of those. What heís never done was legitimately unify a division. The only division he ďunifiedĒ was 175, and that was a farce, being that Dariusz Michalczewski was unjustly stripped of his belts that he never lost in the ring.
That Jones never legitimately unified the light-heavyweight division is indisputable. The idea that he can accomplish this feat now seems very far-fetched. To begin with, we already know that Jones doesnít have what it takes to beat Antonio Tarver or Glenncoffe Johnson. There are also a number of other fighters in the division who would trouble Jones.
For starters, I donít think anyone would question that Roy Jones would lose to Bernard Hopkins in the unlikely event they square off again. In fact, Jones isnít even deserving of an opportunity to fight Hopkins. When they first fought in 1994, Hopkins was still a green fighter who was nowhere near the caliber boxer he would later become. Hopkins has gotten better over the years, and technically speaking, Hopkins was always a superior boxer to Jones. That Hopkins is still fighting at an elite level in his early 40ís is a testament to this fact. Hopkins always had his skills to fall back on; Jones had no skills to fall back on once his freakish speed and reflexes slowed down. Plus, Jones has showed a reluctance to trade since his chin was exposed as being less-than-stellar.
In addition to Hopkins, thereís undefeated WBC champion, Tomasz Adamek. Adamek is a pressure fighter who represents a stylistic nightmare for the aging Jones. Truth be known, Adamekís relentless style poses a problem to any version of Jones. Roy Jones simply does not like being pressured, and against a skilled technician like Adamek, Jones would face such pressure in abundance. Itís extremely unlikely that Jones could last twelve full rounds against a fighter like Adamek. Unlike Ajuma, Adamek has the tools to properly implement the type of pressure-based game plan needed to beat Jones. Jones must be aware of this, so an Adamek vs. Jones fight will likely never happen.
Beyond that, there are a slew of other fighters at 175 who might have a good chance at beating Jones. Heís made his mark, for what itís worth; heís unlikely to improve upon that at this junction. In the end, Jones has only himself to blame for the way his career unfolded. He has no business being mentioned alongside truly great fighters, like Robinson, Ali, and Hagler. Unlike those who truly personify greatness, Jones never dared to be great. He much preferred the path of least resistance, as last nightís fight attests to.
Article posted on 31.07.2006
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