Y’all must’ve forgot: Five legendary moments from Roy Jones Jr.’s boxing career ahead of the Mike Tyson fight


On Saturday night, two of the all-time great fighters in boxing history will step into the ring to face off in an exhibition fight when Roy Jones Jr. does battle with Mike Tyson. Few athletes in history have reached the heights of fame — and infamy — of Tyson. Despite Jones never reaching Tyson’s level of notoriety, it’s almost without question that Jones is the better fighter in a historic context.

Jones is the only fighter ever to start his career at junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight world championship. He won world titles along the way at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight and was ultimately recognized by Ring Magazine as Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s.

Ahead of Jones’ clash with Tyson at Staples Center in Los Angeles, let’s take a look back at five of the most memorable fights of his storied career.

First world title win over Hopkins

On the undercard of the heavyweight title fight between Riddick Bowe and Jesse Ferguson on May 22, 1993, Jones entered the ring opposite fellow future all-time great Bernard Hopkins. The fight was for the IBF middleweight championship that had been vacated by James Toney. Jones and Hopkins wouldn’t produce a thriller in the bout, but Jones was sharp throughout the fight, piling up early rounds before Hopkins was able to establish a rhythm and start taking some rounds on the scorecards.

Ultimately, Jones outlanded Hopkins 206 to 153 and also landed at a higher percentage. Jones would take all three official scorecards 116-112, though both Sports Illustrated (117-111) and HBO unofficial scorer Herold Lederman (118-110) saw the fight as an even wider win for Jones, as he improved his career mark to 22-0. The two would go on to rematch in 2010 with Hopkins winning a wide decision over Jones, whose style was much less suited to late-career success than the rugged Hopkins.

Upset against James Toney

As previously mentioned, Toney held the IBF middleweight title before moving up to super middleweight and capturing the IBF title at 168 pounds. Toney entered the Nov. 18, 1994 fight with Jones with an undefeated 44-0-2 record and the No. 2 spot in the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings. Jones was 26-0 and ranked No. 3 pound-for-pound.

Toney was the favorite coming into the fight, but Jones dominated the action from the jump, in part because Toney was not in the best shape of his career. The fight produced one of the most iconic moments of his career, with Jones posing like one of his fighting roosters, Toney trying to mimic him and Jones landing a leaping hook that sent Toney stumbling back into the corner for a knockdown. In the end, Jones won his second world title by taking the unanimous decision by scores of 119-108, 118-109, and 117-110.

Playing two pro sports in one day

Make no mistake about it, Eric Lucas had no business stepping in the ring with Jones when he challenged for Jones’ super middleweight title on June 15, 1996. Lucas would go on to become a world champion, but at the time of the Jones fight, he was not a top-tier opponent.

To say Jones took Lucas lightly would be an understatement. Jones played in a semi-professional basketball game on the morning of the fight and then knocked out Lucas in Round 11, becoming the first athlete to play two paid sports in a single day and adding a little spice to a fight that would have otherwise been largely forgettable against a man who would go on to become a top-five fighter in the division.

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Violently avenging his first career loss

Jones, now WBC light heavyweight champion, would suffer his first career loss on March 21, 1997 when he was disqualified for hitting Montell Griffin after Griffin was already knocked down. Griffin had put on an impressive performance before Jones came back strong to take the lead and score a knockdown in Round 9. With Griffin’s knee on the ground, Jones landed two more punches, earning him a disqualification loss and awarding Griffin the world title.

Jones would get an immediate rematch on Aug. 7 and scored a knockdown just 18 seconds into the fight. Jones would continue to headhunt in a much more aggressive fashion than usual in the fight, launching left hooks with violent intentions until one finally cracked Griffin and sent him sprawling to the floor. First, Griffin struggled to sit up. Then, he could not regain his balance and rise to his feet, awarding Jones the knockout win — and the light heavyweight championship — once again. Almost as important to Jones, it seemed, he proved his superiority after having a blemish put on his record.

Heavyweight title win over Ruiz

While holding the WBA, WBC, IBF, IBO, WBF and IBA light heavyweight championships, Jones made the leap to heavyweight to battle John Ruiz on March 1, 2003. Ruiz had won the WBA world heavyweight championship by beating Evander Holyfield. While Ruiz wasn’t considered the top man in the heavyweight division and was maybe the most boring top fighter in the division, he was a world champion and gave Jones a solid pick to set records in moving up to fight for one of the most prestigious titles in the game.

Jones didn’t bulk up too much for the fight, weighing in at 193 pounds — under the cruiserweight limit — and using his speed and technique to outwork Ruiz over 12 rounds. Jones would win on the scorecards 116-112, 118-110 and 117-111, cruising to an easy win to complete one of the most impressive accomplishments of his career. One fight later, Jones would beat Antonio Tarver via controversial majority decision in the final big moment of his career. He struggled throughout the fight with many speculating that it was a result of having to move back down from his larger frame against Ruiz to the light heavyweight division. Jones would never look the same after that fight, but he had already claimed his status as one of the best to ever do it in the boxing ring.





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