On May 15, 2004, a heavily-favored Roy Jones faced Antonio Tarver for the second time in his career.
Do you remember how you felt about Roy Jones Jr. around that time? Do you remember how announcers talked about him during his fights? It might be harder than you think, given what followed only a couple rounds later. And, as it turned out, it got a little worse as time moved on.
If we remove his DQ loss to Montell Griffin (and God knows we should, given any semblance of sanity or reason), going into his contest against Tarver, Roy Jones Jr. was an astounding 24-0 in title fights alone. Jones' record stood (with the Griffin fight being credited to him by way of knockout in strict accordance with the Butlerian Rule of Justice) at 50-0 with 39 knockouts.
Unlike Floyd (I'm referring to the first Castillo fight), Roy Jones Jr. had hardly lost any kind of succession of rounds let alone a fight.
Can you remember just how dominant Roy Jones Jr. was in his prime? They criticized him nearly as much as Floyd for playing it safe. But those 39 knockouts didn't come out of thin-air, either. Compare the highlight reels of both fighters and try to find anyone you could convince to watch a Mayweather Jr. fight over a Jones Jr. fight.
But this is my point. After Tarver flattened Roy Jones Jr. in the second round, not only was Jones Jr. never the same, his legacy was toast. The zero on his record? (in accordance with Butlerian Rule of Justice!) Poof. Invincible image? Poof. Boxing's Achilles didn't have any trouble with a heel, but his chin on the other hand...
And it got worse and worse. Roy Jones Jr. went from a joke, to a cautionary tale, to an awful portable state of emergency every time he went off to fight (I bet you're as excited as I am to watch his next fight against what's-his-name in a finger-licking-good tune up fight on the road to bigger and better things––are we to infer meeting God in heaven?).
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is as close as there's ever been to Roy Jones Jr.'s ability. He's a far better boxer, too. Have you ever wondered if he's kept his eye on Roy's career?
What did he see? What did he learn?
Left without his youth, Jones Jr.'s entire approach to boxing is a hazard to his health. He's sustained a series of viciously cruel knockouts to emphasize this reality. He still fails to get the message. Maybe after he's intellectually incapable of forming a message he finally will. It's a rotten thing to watch unfold. And it's not as if most boxing fans are well-acquainted with happy endings with their heroes.
But for Mayweather Jr., keeping an eye on how high Roy Jones Jr. built his legacy and the precipitous tumble since Tarver must be highly instructive for him in terms of forecasting the potential fallout with someone like Pacquiao.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is 34. Shane Mosley, then at 38 years of age (without his cane!), was able to get inside and land some big punches in their contest. You don't think it sent a message to Floyd about what Manny could do if given the opportunity? And, when it came down to it, Floyd didn't make a mistake for Mosley to land that punch. Mosley just pressed him, and Floyd was unable to get out of the way. If anything, that's the most ominous aspect of Floyd nearly being dropped in that second round. Manny will come far harder and faster and have endless energy in reserve with one mission in mind: put this one away.
Maybe Floyd's playing it smart by tip-toeing around actually manning up for a fight here. Manny's legacy isn't brittle if he loses. But imagine what happens to Floyd's legacy if it goes the other way. And what if he loses big? What if Floyd Mayweather getting knocked out is even more dramatic than when Roy Jones Jr. bit the dust against Tarver?
Keep this in mind, the biggest cheer of Floyd's career happened the moment Mosley wobbled him. Something tells me it wasn't lost on him.