Roy Jones Jr. Leaves Behind one of Boxing’s Greatest Legacies
Roy Jones Jr. finished his legendary boxing career this week with a common occurrence during his run in the sport, a win.
Updated: Feb. 10, 2018 • 11:00 AM ET
Roy Jones Jr. will be remembered as one of the greatest boxers of his era.
Roy Jones Jr. ended his extended boxing career in victorious fashion with a unanimous decision win in a cruiserweight bout against Scott Sigmon on Thursday night. After 29 years in the sport, 75 fights and many unnecessarily unrelenting questions, the former pound-for-pound king will finally hang up his irrefutably Hall of Fame gloves.
Not even a month after his 49th birthday, Jones performed for the last time in front of his hometown crowd in Pensacola, Fla. at the same venue he entered boxing as a pro in 1989. He won 98-92 on all three scorecards in a lopsided fight against the 30-year-old Sigmon.
After the fight, Jones said there’s one fight that could pull him out of retirement: a fight with MMA pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva. Jones addressed UFC President Dana White on the possible matchup after his win over Sigmon, but a cross-over fight with Silva is unlikely because the 42-year-old Brazilian has once again been suspended due to a second failed drug test.
Many have criticized Jones for sticking around the sport, with most of them saying he’s retiring about 14 years too late. But from 1994 until 2004, when he suffered his first knockout to Antonio Tarver, he was the king of boxing. If you rule out his disqualification against Montell Griffin in 1997, he went from 1989 to 2004 without a loss.
Jones’ coming out party was a highly anticipated fight called “The Uncivil War” against James Toney for the IBF World Super Middleweight title in 1994, during which he completely out-classed the future Hall of Famer in a 12-round decision. With the victory, Jones truly cemented himself at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.
Jones won titles in four different weight classes and became the undisputed light heavyweight champion by unifying the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in 1999. He holds the record for wins in unified light heavyweight bouts with 12.
In 2003, Jones moved up to heavyweight and defeated John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title. He used precise punches and his quickness to frustrate Ruiz, despite giving up more than 20 pounds to the younger fighter. After the fight, Jones vacated the belt and moved back down to light heavyweight.
While many have been unfairly critical, even calling the second half of Jones’ career a sideshow, it’s hard to look past his love for boxing. From his respected work as an analyst for HBO to his commitment to putting on a show for the fans well beyond his prime, he’s the perfect representative for the sport. So to reduce what he has done with the second half of his career as forlorn would be ignoring the obvious passion he brings to the ring.
Sure, with every KO suffered later in his career, it was easy to question why Jones was still fighting. Well, it’s simple — he loves to do it. His refusal to detach himself from the thing that he loves should be carefully celebrated and not condemned.
Jones has defeated fighters such as Tarver, Toney, Griffin, Ruiz, Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad and Vinny Pazienza. He won the silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics after one of the most controversial decisions in history, in which his opponent Park Si-Hun apologized after the fight and the three judges that voted against Jones were suspended.
The Boxing Writers Association of America named Jones the Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s. He held titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, having been a six-time champion.
The man that calls himself Superman leaves behind a legacy that makes him one of the all-time greats. He should be remembered for the decade when he consistently made other fighters look like amateurs, not when he had trouble saying goodbye to the sport.
Long before the idea of selling fights with trash talk or street-wise antics, Roy Jones Jr. sold fights by simply being himself inside and outside of the ring.