"The KO"...A Flashing Sign
Jamaica's and Miami's Glen Johnson stunned the boxing world on Saturday night....Check out the scenes in the fight from the Miami Herald's, Santos Perez....Johnson's brilliant temple-ringing punch not only flattened Roy Jones, but it also floored me as well...
Roy Jones Jr. is my generation's best fighter. Yes...after 1989, we had to find a replacement for "Iron Mike"....However, during HBO's telecast of his title fight, Jones's cock-fighting defense style was a far-cry from his style that established his reign of domination during the late nineties and early OOs.
The 2004 version of Jones, which chooses to go toe-to-toe with a puncher or a brawler, does not fit his diminishing physical skills. What made Jones great was his quickness, not his power. Throughout Jones's career, he moved around the ring with cat-like defensive poses that resembled the roosters at his homestead in Pensacola. His stance resembled a martial artist not a boxer. However, without that quickness to avoid long punches and short swinging jabs to the body, he has to absorb the punches and jabs that come his way. That style makes Jones a brawler....A fighting style that makes Jones just plain average.
What did it?...The jump in weight to 200 lbs. to fight John Ruiz? Could be...For Jones to fight in the heavyweight division, he had to pack on extra girth to pad the extra-strength blows that would come from upper-weight class fighters, and he had to taper his speed down in order to gain more power in his punches. However, to blame his diminishing performances over the past twelve months upon his fluctuations in weight is a little too simple for me.
Let's look at the other things that Jones has going on. From the heavy promotion of his crew's newly released CD, to his attempts at crossing-over to music, to his sponsorships with EA Sports and Brand Jordan, it seems that his interests in competing with the best in the ring has gone a long way since he fought Montell Griffin years ago. Was his time totally devoted to keeping his skills sharp? Also, when you really look at the last couple of years of his career, his fights with Antonio Tarver were really the most competitive and challenging fights that he stood up to take on. So, can you blame it totally upon the weight? Probably not....
For me, it was tough watching RJ fall. It was different than his KO from Tarver. My feelings while watching him lie in the ring like a corpse were the same feelings that I felt about a year ago standing in 'La Res' in Chapel Hill looking at bright-faced eighteen year-olds on a lonely night out on the town....Yes, we all get old....Watching one of Generation X's best go down cold was hard....Not only did it make me realize how fleeting physical skills are in life, but it made me really realize that there is a constant...We all get older and we all will fall.
But what makes you stand firmly in the wind of change, is how do you adapt to aging....
It takes a rare athlete to hang it up when the tank is on warning light. As we witness year-in and year-out with most athletes, we will probably see more of Roy Jones because he won't be able to give up his mercurial "baddest man on the planet" title. A title that is based on street reputation that is still recognized by people who are nine beers in while wearing nylon Air Jordan sweatsuits in Wizards colors. But hopefully, that won't be the way our Champ goes out.
In the meantime, let's spill a sip on the floor for a fighter, who was probably the best skilled fighter since Sugar Ray Robinson, and for over a decade, was pound-for pound the best fighter in the world.