Those who had the privilege to watch Roy Jones Jr. during his prime will tell you what a fighting specimen he was. In between Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather Jr. there was Roy Jones, holding the mantle as the most complete fighter during his prime.
He had the intimidation factor, speed, quickness, and tremendous power with both hands. His only weakness may have been his defense and fundamentals, and only because we never knew how good they were.
He was never easy to hit, but too often relied on his quickness, and his opponents’ hesitancy to pull the trigger in fear of being countered, as his main defensive strategies.
But as with many other athletes with superior physical gifts, they often find themselves relying on them, instead of honing their skills. As a result, when his speed and skills eroded, so did his success. While his rival Bernard Hopkins, who relies on guile and ring smart, continues to be considered one of the top pound-for-pound boxers today.
What Roy Jones Jr. failed to realize is that physical gifts often fade away, but ring smarts and guile stays forever.
Now that he’s lost a step or two, Roy Jones Jr. learned the hard way that bad habits, such as keeping his hands down and relying on quickness to avoid punches, no longer work, as he’s been the victim of brutal knockouts in recent years.
Sadly, he’s becoming more known for his loses than his past accomplishments. Some people have even put Hopkins higher than Jones in their list of the greatest boxers in history. I don’t, because Roy Jones accomplished more and was significantly the greater fighter when both were at their prime.
I compare Jones to a baseball player who might have only played 10 years, but was a member of the 3000 hits club, a multiple MVP award winner, and was considered the best player during his prime. While Hopkins is a hitter who also had 3000 hits, it took him 20 years to get there.
Yet, the main reason for Roy’s downfall may have been his greatest triumph as well. When Roy defeated John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight title on March 1, 2003, he became the first former Middleweight title holder in 106 years to become a heavyweight champion.
But the historical win did not come without a price, as he had to gain about 20 pounds of muscles to move up and fight John Ruiz. What further compounded the issue was his decision to lose the excess weight and come back to the light heavyweight division.
He lost the weight but never regained his incredible quickness and reflexes; thus began his journey from the best pound for pound boxer to irrelevancy.
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