Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Topic of the Week: Roy Jones Jr.

With Roy Jones back in action this Saturday against one time super-middleweight contender Omar Sheika, we decided it would be a good time to give the old man the Topic of the Week treatment.

We asked our writers 5 questions, ranging from whether or not they care if Roy's still fighting to his historical standing in the sport.

1. Do you care that Roy's fighting Omar Sheika on Saturday?

"Not really, but I will watch and it does have the potential to be somewhat exciting. I've never been one to tell fighters when to retire. He is in with the right type of competition at this point." - Mark Lyons

"No. Roy is no longer relevant. I care about the fight in so much as I hope it convinces Roy to retire, without him getting hurt." - Jeff Pryor

"Don't care. Haven't cared about his career since 2004. And really 2003 and 2004 were the only years his fights have interested me in the past decade." - John Vaci

"I'll watch it, but I wish it wasn't happening." - Lee Payton

"No. I've seen more than enough of the shell of Roy Jones to want to see anymore." - Andrew Fruman

"No." - Michael Nelson

2. Are you a Roy Jones fan?

"Yes. Always have been and always will be. The closest I came to turning was the rubber match with Tarver. He had two great rounds and it was clearly a fight he could win, then he just shut it down and survived. That was difficult to watch." - Mark Lyons

"I'd say I'm more of an admirer. Amazing ability in his prime, unpredictably explosive and devastatingly fast. Frustrating in some of his opponent choices, and I can't say I always rooted for him. All in all though, I like him." - Jeff Pryor

"No. The guy wasn't interested in challenging himself in his prime years. He had all the talent in the world and chose to fight mandatories most of the time." - John Vaci

"I've been a fan of his since I got into boxing. At one point he seemed unbeatable, and was fun to watch. The guy has a bigger heart than many of his haters believe, or want to admit. The way he dug down in the championship rounds to beat Tarver sealed it for me." -Lee Payton

"I was a big fan at one stage, but as the years went by, I found myself becoming indifferent towards his career. The Ruiz fight was the last time I rooted for him, and that was mainly because of who he was fighting. Now as a commentator, I was always a fan and wish he was back with HBO. - Andrew Fruman"

"I'm a Roy Jones fan, though I didn't become one until I revisited his career and took another look (in some cases, a first look) at his earlier fights at middleweight and super middleweight. He tended to cruise and potshot at light heavyweight, which was where most of my memories of him were." - Michael Nelson

3. Do you think at the peak of his popularity, Roy was overrated?
"That depends on who you are speaking with. I do feel he was one of the best fighters ever to lace them up, Top 50ish. On the flip side I don't think he was the best fighter of his generation or an all time top 10 fighter. All and all, I think he is placed properly by most." - Mark Lyons

"Roy was a bit overrated. Talent wise probably not, but he didn't always challenge himself as much as one would like. I also think the Ruiz win gets blown up a bit. Otherwise, I think his performances over the last few years have balanced it out a bit and made some realize the enormity of his reliance on natural ability without a solid foundation of boxing skills." - Jeff Pryor

"Just a little bit. He wasn't the God that some of his craziest fans thought he was, but he was pretty damned good. Maybe he was a boxing God, but he himself didn't seem too interested in finding out." - John Vaci

"That's a tough one. He's a first ballot Hall of Famer, and I think his physical tools create a nightmare for many of the greats, but it does feel like he's missing a little something. Judged like most other fighters, his career look pretty damn good. Look at some of the wins he has on paper. A handful of impressive names there.

However, I think the W's he has over Hopkins and Toney are his most overrated achievements, and those are the two most fans are quickest to point out. The Hopkins fight was a dreadful sparring session, where nothing happened, and Toney probably wasn't in peak condition. I'm not one of those "winning is the only thing that matters" kinda fans. I think the fights themselves are the most important thing to consider, and based on performance vs. top flight competition, I'll take the revenge blowout of Montell Griffin (who I feel is underrated), the body shot KO of Virgil Hill and the utter domination of Reggie Johnson.

Those were top pros who he destroyed. I'd love to be able to see how the best light heavyweights in boxing history handled that." - Lee Payton

"Yes. As good as Roy was, his accomplishments didn't quite measure up to the hype." - Andrew Fruman

"I feel that Roy underachieved during his career, and it was disappointing in the sense that he may have had the potential to become a consensus top 10 fighter of all time. There were talented, well-known fighters in Europe he could have fought. He chose not to. Some reasons as to why were legitimate, but if he had the desire to consistently test himself that some of his contemporaries had, I don't doubt that most of the fights would have gotten made.

With that said, he wasn't overrated. His physical talent is only matched by a few in boxing history. With a unique mix of speed, power, and unorthodox punch placement, he knocked opponents out with a single shot that went the distance with the likes of prime Julian Jackson, Nigel Benn, and James Toney. Guys like Thulani Malinga, Thomas Tate, Montell Griffin, and Virgil Hill were notoriously hard to hurt. All were KO'd with one punch.

Blowing out fighters who were not supposed to be blown out is the underrated aspect of his career." - Michael Nelson

4. Among his contemporaries (let's say 1988 onwards) where does Roy rank?

"I think Whitaker is clearly the best of them. Roy is in a lump with Hopkins & Holyfield for me. I have them both ahead of him, but I wouldn't argue too hard if you flip flopped them." - Mark Lyons

"I think Hopkins and Whitaker are ahead of him, at the end of the day, Pacquiao will be too." - Jeff Pryor

"I'd put Whitaker, Hopkins and Pacquiao ahead of him for sure. Maybe James Toney. I think he was arguably the most talented fighter of the past 20 years, but that doesn't count for anything in and of itself. Although, he still managed to have a great career by any standards." - John Vaci

"The list is Hopkins, Whitaker, Holyfield, Roy and Pacquiao. Who do I think was the best? Hopkins. Who did the most? Sweet Pea. Manny still has time to change my mind." -Lee Payton

"Right now, anywhere from 1 to 3. It's real close between Whitaker, Hopkins and Roy." - Andrew Fruman

"As far as fighters who started their career in or after 1988, I'd only put Bernard Hopkins above him. Manny Pacquiao is level and may surpass him this year." - Michael Nelson

5. Do you consider him an all-time great (let's say top 30 all-time)?
"Saying all time greats are only top 30 is a bit limited to me. He is in that range. Closer to top 40 for me, but that qualifies as an all time great from where I sit." - Mark Lyons

"Based on talent he's an all time great. Probably not top thirty, but he's got a solid chance to win against anybody who ever stepped into the ring. Less talented greats are above him. He's a bit like a Ferrari in the garage; amazing car, but if you never take it out or only to a controlled track and keep it at fifty five mph, who's to say that your average jalopy on the highway doing seventy isn't the more valuable vehicle." - Jeff Pryor

"Roy wasn't an all-time great. Although he was close--probably only a 2-3 quality wins away from being one." - John Vaci

"Yeah. I consider him a all-timer, partly because I recognize that boxing was much different 60+ years ago, and therefore it's going to be extremely tough for any modern fighter to break into that select group. The old time fighters just had more opportunities to prove themselves. It's a little harder to rack up a load of top quality wins these days, and losing a fight is much more devastating to a fighter's career and legacy than it used to be. Say from 1970 to present day, how many fighters could you possibly have above him? He's in that top 10 for sure, and when you're that good, you can hang with anyone. That's good enough for me. I don't expect that explanation to satisfy everyone though.

If I was being strict about it, I'd have to say no. The way his career ended prevented him from reaching that territory." - Lee Payton

"On his best night, I'd say he's probably among the top 10-15 fighters (maybe even higher) ever to step in the ring. But in terms of what he actually accomplished, he might fall a little short." - Andrew Fruman

"I'd consider him an all time great. Perhaps being a greedy boxing fan, I wish he would have tested himself enough to reach for GOAT status." - Michael Nelson


Dread said...

Roy was teh GOAT. The atmosphere for his fights was so electric because you always had the feeling he was unbeatable. I wish he would have had a bit better comp, but he stomped some all time greats. (First one of you that says he didn't stomp Toney gets a wet noodle spanking)

Andy said...

He did handle his top opponents very impressively. That just makes you wish even more that he would have tried to challenge himself to a greater extent in his prime.

Lee Payton said...

What realistic fights do you wish he would have taken?

dread said...

that's the problem, right? He seemed to fight who he should have fought, minus Darius, but the competition just never materialized. Sort of like BHop was at 160. He cleared the division so what's he supposed to do?

Andy said...

Defending his light-heavyweight belts twice a year is impressive to a point, but I think there were options if he was willing. He could have put ego aside and agreed to terms with Hopkins for a rematch, or made sure a fight with Darius happened, or maybe moved up to fight the top guys at cruiser, etc.

Roy had the clout to make bigger things happen, that would have given him a chance to deservedly be mentioned with the likes of Robinson, Armstrong & Duran. He just didn't do it.