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When most boxing fans think of great fighters, attributes like power, stamina, courage, quickness and determination comes to mind. When most boxing fans think of their favorite boxers, attributes like power, quickness, brash-full and style tends to come to mind. Few boxers can walk that fine line between favorite and great but what is the determining factor in being loved and underrated.
Roy Jones Jr. was one of the most exciting fighters that ever stepped in the ring. His gaudy style captivated viewers in a positive and negative way. His orthodox style confused fighters as he toyed with their ability (lack there of) to keep up with his speed and quickness. Jones attracted many by his entertaining fighting approach to his opponents. Some thought his tactics were classless and a disgrace to the sport while others applauded and marveled his craft.
What made Jones so dominant (besides his opponents) was his rare combination of speed, quickness and power. The only other fighter that had a similar skill set as Jones was Muhammad Ali. Ali was lighter on his feet and danced more but Jones speed and quickness was backed by shear power that had the the same effect on boxers just as much and maybe even more than Ali. I would never compare Jones to “The Greatest”, but Jones might be in a class of his own when it comes to the combination of speed, quickness and power.
Another great skill he mimicked from a great fighter was the showmanship of “Sugar” Ray Leonard. He would lure boxers to sleep with his windups, pretending he’s tired, dancing, taunting and even the most creative, hands behind his back then knock down move. The crowd would always be entertained and get their money’s worth watching Jones put on a show. What set him aside from Leonard was when he did his theatrics, he would actually knock them down and out. That is what made him special, you couldn’t call it silly or ridiculous because he would score knock downs and knock outs after playing around and showcasing the high profile moves.
So what has caused boxing fanatics to underrate Jones? As I mentioned earlier, most of his opponents shouldn’t have even stepped in the same ring as Jones. It was more than evident that Jones was far ahead of his counterparts. 30 of his first 35 wins came by KO or TKO. His first lost was because of a disqualification for hitting below the belt against Montell Griffin which he knocked out in the rematch the very next fight. Jones won 49 out of 50 fights (because of the disqualification). One fight was against an ex-cop that looked like someone owed him a favor and gave him a shot at Jones. Although Jones kept searching and searching, there was no one in his weight division (in all six divisions) that was either on his level or wasn’t afraid to fight him. Instead of saying he was before his time, he was a decade or two behind his time, thus making people deny him as one of the greatest.
Let’s also not forget about his weak chin. Most if not all of the great fighters had been knocked down before and some had even been knocked out but that makes a fighter a great fighter. He gets back on his feet or the next fight, he regains his title. Well it didn’t go as plan for Jones. The animated one was TKO (really KO) by Antonio Tarver and KO by Glen Johnson back to back. He lost to Tarver (the rematch) the next fight by a unanimous decision. Jones had finally been dethroned and not as threatening to others. He went on to lose the next four out of six bouts (two by KO and TKO). Well I guess he is not as great as some think. Wrong.
What makes Jones underrated is that he won a belt in four divisions, (middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight). He is the first fighter to be a former middleweight champion and become a heavyweight champion ( also became the first fighter to start at light middleweight and win a heavyweight title) since 1906. Jones beat John Ruiz on March 1, 2003 by a unanimous decision. But continuously moving up and down divisions hurt him to where he had lost muscle and strength. The second match after Ruiz was the Tarver fight which he lost by the TKO after beating him the fight before that.. Because most focused on the antics, the lesser opponents and his losing streak but we never soaked up how his orthodox stance was unmatched, his determination to become the greatest was second to none and his relentless chase for greatness.
No one will ever move up divisions and become champion in everyone. No one had the combination of quickness, speed and power like he possessed. We will never know what would have happened if he stayed in light middleweight or even heavyweight but we all know that in his prime, there was not a single fighter who was prepared and able to defeat the champ. Today, Jones is still boxing at the age of 46 trying to get a shot at the cruiserweight division title match (the only division he hasn’t won since middleweight).
Here is a list of all Roy Jone Jr. titles:
Major World Titles:
IBF Middleweight Champion (160 lbs)
IBF Super Middleweight Champion (168 lbs)
WBC Light Heavyweight Interim Champion (175 lbs)
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
(2) WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
WBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
IBF Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
WBA Heavyweight Champion (+200 lbs)
(3) WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
(2) WBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
Minor World Titles:
WBU Cruiserweight Champion (200 lbs)
IBO Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
NBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
WBF Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
IBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
IBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)