Roy Jones Jr. is fighting again. This is not a joke, although it probably should be. The former pound-for-pound king and future Hall of Famer is set to take on Courtney Fry on Saturday in Latvia at 1 p.m. ET in a farcical cruiserweight bout.
The German WBU cruiserweight title that Jones Jr. picked up in his last fight, a win over Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, is at stake. The 45-year-old Jones Jr. is about 15 years removed from his prime, but he fights on.
At least this time he is fighting a man somewhat close to his age. Fry is 39 years old and not considered much of a major threat. Per Odds Shark, Jones Jr. is listed as a minus-625 favorite to win the bout.
The bout isn't televised, but organizers are expecting 10,000-plus in attendance, according to Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo. Jones Jr. supporters could argue that he should continue to fight if he is still able to draw this type of crowd, win and earn a fat check.
There are several answers to that, but the most prominent might be a reminder that he should think about his health and the embarrassing decline of his once-amazing in-ring skills.
Why Is He Doing This?
That is a question perhaps only Jones Jr. can answer. Jerry Steinberg of Vavel summed up Jones Jr.'s pugilistic predicament:
RJ epitomizes everything that is right and wrong in the sport of boxing through his dual careers. At its best, it showcases a skill level, fierce competitive spirit, and excitement few sports can match. At its worst, boxing allows over the hill prizefighters to step in to ring and risk much more than damaging the aesthetics of the sport.
Even Sugar Ray Leonard, another boxing great who fought too long, is fishing for thoughts on the fight.
Roy Jones Jr is returning to the ring Saturday in Latvia. What are your thoughts on this fight? http://t.co/2AWvq8Gkcy— Sugar Ray Leonard (@SUGARRAYLEONARD) July 22, 2014
Jones Jr. has nothing left to prove. He's already one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. He's clearly among the best three or four in his era. You could make the argument that he was the best of the 1990s. His speed, power, charisma and in-ring IQ were a marvel to watch in his prime.
If you were a Jones Jr. fan in the 1990s, you were probably hoping you'd never see the day when he'd be fighting a 39-year-old journeyman cruiserweight in Latvia. Unfortunately, this is the reality.
Jones Jr. told ESPN.com's Dan Rafael that he wants to become a cruiserweight champion. Blame former rival Bernard Hopkins, the ageless wonder, for that. The 49-year-old Hopkins is the IBF and WBA light heavyweight champion.
The difference is this: Hopkins is an alien, but Jones is just an old fighter who can't let go.
Just Happy To Be Here
Fry's biggest impediment in the fight might not be dealing with what's left of Jones Jr.'s vaunted hand speed. Before Fry can tackle the physical challenge of facing Jones, he must first fight off being starstruck.
Per Kirkbride, Fry said, "People have been stopping me in the street and asking ‘are you really fighting Roy Jones?' They can’t believe it. I can’t believe it although in about seven weeks time, I will need to start believing it.”
That's pretty accurate. Though Fry was an Olympian in 2000, he has never faced an opponent with even half as much notoriety and presence as Jones Jr.
As crazy as it might sound, Fry will have to guard against being swallowed by the moment.
There's almost a feeling of guilt with this prediction, but Jones Jr. will likely win. Why the grief-filled prediction? Because as long as he wins, he'll keep fighting. When he finally does lose again, it could be harmful, and that's no fun to think about.
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