There was a time when every Roy Jones Jr. fight was an event. In the 1990s, he was the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, winning titles at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. He defeated Bernard Hopkins and James Toney, the other two best fighters of his generation, with relative ease. In his first 50 professional fights, he lost just once, by DQ, when he accidentally knocked out Montell Griffin, after Griffin had taken a knee in Round 9. Jones won their rematch by Round 1 KO.
In March 2003, Jones jumped up from light heavyweight and captured the WBA heavyweight title, when he defeated John Ruiz by unanimous decision. Jones was the first man since Bob Fitzsimmons, over a century before, to reign as middleweight champion and then eventually move up to capture at least a piece of the heavyweight crown.
If Jones had retired after the Ruiz fight, I really believe he would top many all-time, pound-for-pound lists.
Unfortunately, Jones did not retire in 2003. He kept fighting. And the version of Roy Jones that this generation of boxing fans has seen is but a shadow of what he once was.
After defeating Ruiz, Jones vacated and went back down to light heavyweight, where he struggled to win a controversial majority decision against Antonio Tarver. In the rematch, Tarver stunned the world by knocking Jones out.
Jones followed his knockout loss to Tarver with another against Glen Johnson. Following that, he lost a unanimous decision to Tarver, in their third fight. Jones won three more fights and then was handled with ease by Joe Calzaghe.
What would have seemed to be the final low point came between 2009 and 2011. Jones was knocked out in one round by cruiserweight Danny Green. He lost badly in a long-awaited rematch with Bernard Hopkins. Then he traveled to Russia where he got knocked out by eventual cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedov.
At this point, it should have been obvious that Jones was finished as a fighter. But he’s soldiered on, competing as a glorified club fighter. Last March he faced a kid making his professional debut.
This weekend, he faces Rodney Moore, a 40-year-old who has faced, and lost to, some recognizable journeymen. He comes into this bout riding a nine-fight losing streak.
There was a time when the entire world was watching when Roy Jones climbed into the ring. This weekend, pretty much nobody will be paying attention.
Jones wouldn’t seem to need to fight. He’s made a fortune and continues to have a very good gig with HBO’s broadcasting team. He’s still fighting because he wants to keep fighting, regardless of who he is facing, and regardless of how many fans wish he would finally quit.