The Curious Case of Guillermo Jones
Unfortunately for boxing fans the strange nature of cruiserweight Guillermo Jones’ career leaves many unanswered questions…
Current WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones is certainly no household name. There isn’t much of a reason for him to be, as few boxers are in today’s sporting world and he holds no victories over big name fighters. Furthermore, his title reign has consisted of long layoffs punctuated by rare defenses against mostly second-rate opponents. However, while these facts hold true they do not undermine the fact that El Felino has had a strange and fascinating career.
For the last eleven years the 6’4” Guillermo Jones has weighed in at or near the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds. Oftentimes, he comes into fights looking somewhat paunchy and in his most recent fight he tested positive for a banned diuretic. This leads to the speculation that he likely struggles to make weight. While he is undoubtedly no Adonis, Jones has been successful while campaigning as a cruiserweight. The lanky Panamanian hasn’t lost since 2005 when Steve Cunningham narrowly defeated him via split decision. After that loss Jones has scored knockout victories over some pretty respectable foes such as Kelvin Davis, Wayne Braithwaite, Firat Arslan, and Denis Lebedev. Additionally, in 2008 he captured the WBA cruiserweight crown and has yet to lose that title in the ring.
Jones’ accomplishments in the ring are noteworthy, but it’s the circumstances under which they’ve came that have made them remarkable. In his last defense he knocked out Denis Lebedev in the 10th round after inflicting grievous damage to his Russian opponent’s right eye. At the time of this defense Jones was forty-one years old and had not entered the ring for pay in eighteen months. As if that wasn’t enough, it looked as if Jones had barely trained for the fight and he was certainly weight drained as he tested positive for diuretics following the fight. While diuretics are a banned substance they do not help a fighter’s performance as they cause fatigue, muscle weakness, dehydration, and cramping. Thus, they were used out of desperation by El Felino so that he could make weight and collect a paycheck. The fact that under such conditions he could beat a young up and coming cruiserweight whose only previous loss was by split decision to Marco Huck is impressive.
The long layoff that plagued Jones in his most recent fight is a problem that he has faced throughout the last six years of his career. When he won the WBA title from Firat Arslan in 2008 he had not fought in fourteen months. After winning the title Jones fought only twice until his May 2013 battle with Lebedev. Despite these layoffs and fighting at an age where most athletes have retired, Jones continues to look pretty sharp. During these layoffs Guillermo is likely spending little time in the gym. If he had fought more often he would likely have been fresher and it would be interesting to see what he could have accomplished.
Unusual occurrences that go way beyond long layoffs are a staple of El Felino’s career. For starters, Jones started his career as a welterweight. Little footage if any exists of a young Jones, but watching a 6’4’’ welterweight navigate the ring must have been truly something to behold. This is especially true considering that he must have done it with considerable skill as he was undefeated in fifteen fights at this weight class. Within three years of turning pro Jones moved up one weight class and not long after he fought his first notable opponent as a light middleweight. In 1998 he twice challenged Laurent Boudouani for the WBA title. Both matches were hotly contested and in the first match Jones fought to a draw, while in the second he lost a close split decision.
Guillermo Jones has lost three times in his career, but only one of them has been decisive. In 1997 he was knocked out in two rounds by the unheralded David Noel in a light middleweight contest. Only two months later, Jones avenged this defeat and stopped Noel in one round. Since redressing this defeat over 16 years ago Jones has only lost via split decisions or fought to draws in fights that he did not win. In 2002 he fought WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson to a draw in what was Nelson’s 10th title defense. In the next two years Guillermo only fought twice against mediocre opposition and in 2005 he met the tough Steve Cunningham, who he battled to a split decision loss.
Unfortunately for boxing fans the strange nature of Jones’ career leaves many unanswered questions. For example, we know that Jones was skilled at 154 and has some skills at 200, but what kind of fighter would he have been at any of the weight classes in between? It’s hard enough for most fighters to come up one weight class and Jones somehow has managed to jump four weight classes and find success at a very high level. Additionally, what kind of fighter would Jones be if he was properly trained and fought at an appropriate rate of frequency? Right after his loss to Cunningham he fought and blew away both Kelvin Davis and Wayne Braithwaite in only a four month period. Jones’ next fight will be an April rematch against Lebedev. Hopefully, Jones will take the fight seriously and not need to use a diuretic to cut weight. Time is working against him and as a fighter ages conditioning becomes all the more important. One thing is certain though, and that is that nothing is conventional in the long and odd career of Guillermo Jones.