Roy Jones Jr: A slave to his passionWritten by Joseph Herron
On March 1st, 2003, a 34 year old fighter by the name of Roy Levesta Jones Jr. laced up his gloves for the 50th time in his professional career, hoping to make boxing history.
At the infamous Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, the boxer most affectionately known by his fans as "Superman" decided to challenge the current WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World, "Quiet man" John Ruiz.
Despite being outweighed by over 30 pounds, Jones was a 2:1 betting favorite going into the bout and was supremely confident that he would become the first former Junior Middleweight boxer in the history of the sport to win a Heavyweight title.
Before trying his luck in the heavyweight division, Jones had already made his mark in boxing by winning numerous championship titles in three different weight classes and was named "Fighter of the Decade" for the nineties by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
In the minds of most boxing scribes, winning a Heavyweight Championship was simply the icing on the cake.
Jones dominated Ruiz for twelve rounds and won the WBA Heavyweight title, becoming the first former Middleweight Champion in 106 years to capture a heavyweight title.
After reaching what has been historically regarded as the pinnacle of the sport, there was nothing left for Jones to accomplish in boxing. Yet, the fighter within the man felt compelled to continue competing in the ring.
Fast forward eight years to December of 2011.
After losing 7 of his last 12 bouts in the world class arena, the former four division world champion picked up his 55th victory last night against overmatched Max Alexander of Camden, New Jersey, via 10 round unanimous decision.
The all time great pugilist won almost every round but didn't dominate the action and failed to capture the imagination of even the most die-hard boxing fan with his surprisingly competitive performance against a man who was fortunate to be included in last night's main event.
The Roy Jones of old would have never allowed the 187th ranked cruiserweight to stick around for 10 solid rounds. But, it's become blatantly obvious to those who have followed the ring legend throughout his entire career that this isn't the same Roy Jones Jr.
The man who fought at the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA, last night is not the same fighter who only lost only one bout in his first fourteen years of competition as a professional prizefighter.
However, the 42 year old future Hall of Famer still insists that he has something left to prove within the sport of boxing. The self proclaimed greatest of all time continues to fight on, despite the vocal dismay of his many critics and fans.
Should we feel bad for the former four division world champion? If the man decides that he wants to continue to fight, shouldn't we at least give him the appropriate respect? After all, he is a legend of the sport and an all time great pugilist.
A true fighter is an enigma and is very difficult for the layperson to understand. The man has absolutely nothing left to accomplish in the sport, yet he still wants to compete in the ring.
A real fighter is always looking to combat his next challenge...even if that challenge is within.
Is Roy trying to defeat father time? Is the ring legend attempting to battle the inevitable process of growing old?
Sadly, Roy is beginning to personify the legendary character Don Quixote of La Mancha, who tilted at windmills in search of goals that were widely irrational. Although considered to be a literary hero, Don Quixote eventually faced the truth and succumbed to a harsh but existent reality.
Hopefully, Roy will as well.
Can we blame the 42 year old pugilist for trying to deny his naysayers? After all, aren't fighters accustomed to disproving their detractors? Isn't that what fuels their competitive flame?
Boxing is obviously Roy's passion and it continues to be his quantum of solace. Who are we to deprive the living legend of his personal pursuit for happiness?
Albeit painful for anyone who worshipped the artist formerly known as Superman, boxing fans should learn to embrace his efforts and come to terms with his current plea for greatness.
This is his victory lap...this is his curtain call...this is his final chapter...this is Roy Jones Jr.
Be thankful that we still get one last glimpse of a true boxing hero.