It’s About Time: Roy Jones Jr.

By Christian Giudice on March 6, 2015
It’s About Time: Roy Jones Jr.
“Toney even had a better, more powerful shoulder roll than Floyd does.” (Giudice)

“I had no clue that I would win the heavyweight title. No clue about the cruiserweight. I am ready for whatever God has in store for me…”

It’s not unusual to see Michael Jordan sitting nearby at a local restaurant in Charlotte or linebacker phenom Luke Kuechly checking out a Hornets game, but if someone recognized Roy Jones Jr. in the Charlotte area, you may just think he’s here on a layover.

Fortunately, that’s not the case as the legendary fighter has landed in Charlotte, NC, and is fighting out of the nearby Cabarrus Arena in Concord, NC tonight as his quest for one last hurrah continues.

That last hurrah signifies Jones’ final attempt for one more world title; this time at cruiserweight. With his focus on Marco Huck’s WBO cruiserweight title, Jones will take what he considers a quick pit stop en route to Huck. Tonight, Jones (59-8, 42 KOs) faces Willie Williams (14-8-2, 4 KOs) in a cruiserweight bout held at the Cabarrus Arena. The significance of the event is not lost on local promoter Mike Long of Money Mike Promotions.

“As soon as I found out that he would consider fighting here, he was on my radar,” said Long. ”You are not going to get another name period in this area. When you name the five greatest fighters in our lifetime Roy Jones is right up there with Ali and Tyson and those guys.  I’ve been trying to put this card together since December.”

Crediting local friendships with his Charlotte connection, Jones, who has been fighting professionally since his debut against Ricky Randall in 1987, recognizes the changing dynamic of the sport and his career. It’s hard to believe that he started at 157 pounds and is now searching for a world title in his fifth weight class. Even though Jones still thrives on the left hook to the body or the head, he realizes that he does not move like he used to.

“My lateral movement has been missing in my past fights,” said Jones. “But I am bringing it back. I lost it before, but now I found it again.”

One thing that he hasn’t lost is the old confidence. Sure, Jones, at 46, is in decline, but he still exudes that same matter-of-fact assuredness and enthusiasm that helped make him one of the most dynamic fighters and sports personalities of the last 25 years. At times, he sounds like the old Roy when he exclaims, “I play on Roy Jones’ team. You just have to deal with it,” in response to a question about having to adapt to other fighters’ styles.

But even he couldn’t have predicted the path he has taken.

“I had no clue,” said Jones, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Thursday. “I had no clue that I would win the heavyweight title. No clue about the cruiserweight. I am ready for whatever God has in store for me.”

Whatever Williams has in store for Jones may not be enough to unseat the great fighter. Jones hinted at the need to go to the body early and often in hopes of making quick work of Williams. As often as Jones discussed his desire to face Huck, the WBO champ, he couldn’t help but wander back to the past.

“Beating James Toney was the biggest victory of my career,” said Jones. “It didn’t get any better for me. And he even had a better, more powerful shoulder roll than Floyd does.”

Not everyone of this generation is aware of how great Jones was in his prime, but Charlotte resident, Quinton Rankin (7-2, 6 KOs), who faces Craig Duncan at 175 pounds on the undercard, always viewed Jones as an all-time great and was honored to be fighting alongside him.

“I loved Roy Jones because I could relate to him,” said Rankin, who has traveled to Atlanta, Greensboro, and Columbia, SC to find sparring partners. “I watch guys and then try to go out and do what they do. I liked Tyson, but I couldn’t relate to him like I could Roy.”

Admiring Jones’ speed and movement, Rankin looks up to the great fighter, but he is also trying to carve out his own niche with a new trainer leading his camp. Having dealt with injuries and struggled to get meaningful fights over the last five years, Rankin didn’t let the frustrations derail his career. Although Rankin has worked with various trainers, he hadn’t developed a comfortable rapport with any of them – until now.

Having recognized that his success would depend upon having a consistent cornerman, Rankin seems to have found a perfect balance in Adam Esposito – a trainer who knows when to lead and when to step back. As a Muay Thai convert, Esposito has come into Rankin’s life at the perfect time.

“I supplement anything I can offer,” said Esposito. “He’s so disciplined. We just clicked. I am not the type of trainer to point fingers at anyone. Quinton’s personality makes him who he is. It’s an honor to work with him. He’s blood. He’s family.”

Whether it is Jones finding that one last glimpse of greatness or Rankin finding that trainer who just might make a difference, it’s all about timing. And for many North Carolinians who have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a great boxing presence, it’s about time.

The Journey Continues

Christian Giudice
Author: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Argüello
Author: Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran

Twitter Account:!/chrisgiudice
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Roy Jones Jr vs James Toney (Full Fight)

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  1. Aztec Warrior 07:06pm, 03/06/2015

    I’ve been a die hard fan, watching boxing since the mid 70’s.  Even spent a few years in the amateur ranks myself. That being said, I’ve never been a RJJ fan. Funny thing is, I’m not even sure why. I can’t really put my finger on it. I certainly respect his achievements in the ring and wish him only the best but I’m simply just not a fan.

  2. Matt Mosley 12:44pm, 03/06/2015

    I was a big fan of RJJ and I suppose I still am, but what I don’t like is how he is given a pass by most fans even though he failed a steroid test in 2000 (and never received any punishment because of the joke commission).
    Evander Holyfield is often accused of steroid use when he never failed a test and a big thing is made of random testing nowadays (as it should be) but Roy being a proven cheat is for some reason swept under the carpet by many.
    I have no doubt he would have been a great talent anyway, but he was also a proven cheat.
    He says it was all down to the supplement he bought over the counter called “ripped fuel”.
    I train and use protein powder. If I saw something called “Ripped Fuel” I would know straight away that it was more than a legal supplement, so I don’t believe Roy on that one.
    Testing in boxing, especially back then was an absolute joke.
    I bet Roy couldn’t believe how unlucky he was to get caught.

  3. Eric 11:52am, 03/06/2015

    What the hell kind of robe or jacket is Roy wearing? Looks like he borrowed something from middle-aged Elvis, Superfly, Rick Flair, Walt Frazier, Frenchy Fuqua, Elton John, Liberace, and Bishop Don “Magic” Juan, with that choice of clothing.

  4. Kid Blast 10:52am, 03/06/2015

    Simply the best

  5. Jim Crue 09:21am, 03/06/2015

    He set the template for Phony Floyd. Roy fought carefully selected opponents. He showed he is not an all time great because he got hit on the chin and cold cocked by tough but mediocre guys. All time greats do not get knocked almost dead by guys like Tarver and Johnson. Roy and his team knew he had a weak jaw and they made the most of his talent by putting him in with guys who were old, not good or could not punch very hard. I repeat..great fighters do not get knocked cold by guys like Tarver and Johnson. He has been knocked out by untalented guys the last few years and should not be fighting. Perhaps he needs the money. Doesn’t HBO pay him? I wish him good health but if he keeps fighting he will be walking on his heals.

  6. Eric 07:58am, 03/06/2015

    People tend to forget how truly great Roy Jones was in his prime. I’d rank him as the greatest 168 pounder and in my top 10 list of all time great light heavyweights. You have to wonder why Roy didn’t drop to cruiserweight after taking the heavyweight title for Ruiz. Dropping back to 175lbs to defend against Tarver in his next fight was definitely a wrong move looking back. But hindsight is always 20/20. Wish Roy luck with his quest for a 5th title, even if it is relatively meaningless. Always wondered why Michael Spinks and/or Michael Moorer never tried for the cruiserweight title.

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