Almost nothing can tarnish the in-ring legacy of a legend, but at some point, there is legitimate concern for the well-being of a fighter who fights too far past his prime.
At 44 years old, Roy Jones Jr. (56-8, 40 KO) fights on, and many boxing fans are probably wondering why.
The former four-division world champion, future Hall of Famer and boxing legend will return to the ring on Saturday to face 36-year-old Frenchman Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf (17-3-1, 8 KO). The two will battle at the Dynamo Palace of Sports in Krylatskoye, Moscow, Russia for the German version of the World Boxing Union cruiserweight title.
Originally, Jones Jr. was supposed to face Bobby Gunn in Bethlehem, Pa., but per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, that deal fell through and Eddine Benmakhlouf became the opponent.
This is a far cry from the all-eyes-on-me spectacles that Jones Jr. had with regularity during the 1990s and early 2000s.
(Disclaimer: video contains music that is NSFW)
This is a bout that most will not see on television but will more than likely have to read about to find out the results.
There is no information available for viewing, but here is what we know about the fight.
When: Saturday, Dec. 21
Where: Dynamo Palace of Sports in Krylatskoye, Moscow, Russia
The Book on Jones Jr. and Eddine Benmakhlouf
All About Anderson Silva
Jones Jr. has always liked to be unique and challenge the conventionality of the sport. His fundamentals and approach were technically incorrect, but because of his amazing physical gifts and boxing I.Q., he could do things others couldn't.
Now he is looking to do something else rather unprecedented. Jones Jr. is looking to take on mixed martial arts great Anderson Silva in a boxing match in 2014.
Jones Jr. said this to Rafael:
I want to be ready for Anderson Silva in case he beats (Chris) Weidman. Silva has made it clear that if he wins, he wants me next. I'm here for him. That's a fight that intrigues a lot of people, but I can't fight Anderson Silva coming off such a long layoff. So I needed to get a fight first. If it wasn't for Anderson Silva calling me out, I wouldn't be fighting this fight.
Silva will be looking to avenge his KO defeat to Weidman at UFC 168 on Dec. 28. If Silva and Jones Jr. are victorious, a mixed-sport clash is very possible.
Who Is Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf
We don't know much about Eddine Benmakhlouf, but we do know this bout is being billed as a winner-take-all affair, per BoxingScene.com. Basically, if you don't win, then you don't get paid.
Some may doubt whether or not Jones Jr. is literally risking the chance he'll be fighting for free, but it could very well be the case for Eddine Benmakhlouf. He is a late replacement and almost completely unknown in just about every boxing circle.
He has a decent record, but you won't recognize any of the names of his past opponents. He's being sent in to fail. We'll see if he can give Jones Jr. more than he is bargaining for.
Even as a shell of his former self, Jones Jr. should be capable of outboxing an inexperienced 36-year-old who has never fought beyond eight rounds in his career.
Were it not for the possibility that this bout could lead to something oddly intriguing like a Jones Jr.-Silva bout, there would likely be no interest at all.
As it is, Roy will do his part to keep the dream fight alive and win by unanimous decision over Eddine Benmakhlouf.
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