• Steve Bunce

The longevity of old warrior Roy Jones is a mystery to me

Steve Bunce March 10, 2015
Roy Jones Jr won his first world title in 1993 and has gone on to win 60 of his 68 fights © Getty Images

It is hard to imagine what really motivates the great Roy Jones Jr to keep fighting 20 years after his glorious peak.

Jones first won a world title in 1993 at middleweight, kept adding to the haul and in 2003 he moved to heavyweight and easily beat John Ruiz to take the WBA version of the title.

Buncey's Vaults

  • Here we go again, nothing changes: "Boxing is to undergo a revolution which will have immediate ramifications for the 'alphabet soup' of sanctioning bodies that has tainted the sport and devalued the title of world champion." It was spring and I had obviously woken up feeling fresh.
  • "Legal representatives from the two oldest sanctioning bodies in the sport, the WBA and the WBC, meet for the second time next week to discuss plans to form one powerful organisation." The two "oldest" also met in January of 2015 to do the same!
  • In 1998 the IBF was invited but never showed and in 2015 the WBO received an invite but never showed! "'We need to get back to a major champion, one man with the respect of all true boxing fans: a fighter who is proud to be a world champion of a great sport,' said Jose Sulaiman, the WBC's president." We are still waiting and now there are more world champions than ever.
  • As reported in the Daily Telegraph, April 29, 1998.

He was the world's best fighter, the world's highest paid fighter and he was for 10 years untouchable at any weight - put simply, he was the greatest fighter in the world and people started putting him on the same short list as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Roberto Duran and other icons of the ring.

Jones had lost just once, a controversial disqualification, in 48 fights when he fought Ruiz in Las Vegas. That loss was avenged in spectacular style, by the way, when he knocked out Montell Griffin in the first round. The win over Ruiz was not a fluke, but it was a sophisticated masterclass against a man that had life and death and beat Evander Holyfield in title fights and was good enough in 2010 - yes, a full seven years later - to challenge David Haye for the same version of the world title. Ruiz, incidentally, won the vacant WBA title back in his very next fight after the shock Jones loss when he beat Hasim Rahman, the man that knocked out Lennox Lewis.

Last week Roy had his 68th fight, this time at Cruiserweight and the 46-year-old survivor looked vicious in ruining Willie Williams, a man with a record of 14 wins and eight defeats before Jones did the business. It was vintage Jones, even if poor Willie is unlikely to ever make a pound-for-pound list.

It was after the Ruiz fight that certain things started to go horribly wrong for Jones. If he had walked away right then with a record of 48 wins, one defeat and world titles at middleweight, super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight there is no doubt in my mind that we would classify him as a true legend.

However, Jones came through a hard fight at light-heavyweight after the Ruiz triumph and was then beaten three times in succession, including two sickening knockout losses. Jones looked like an instantly faded fighter, a man that in two short years had fallen from the sport's mightiest pedestal and landed in a bloody heap.

There followed three wins and then a big fight with Joe Calzaghe in 2008 in New York City. Calzaghe won, but Jones dropped the unbeaten Welshman and helped persuade him that it was time to quit. Jones continued to fight, a forgotten man on alien shows in low-key locations and after two more wins he was beaten again three times in three fights, two by stoppage.

Jones just kept on fighting and the win against Williams was his sixth win in a row since his last defeat. He is truly remarkable, a man for the ages, a fighter from another time and now at 46, with 60 wins in 68 fights there is no sign that the old warrior is ready to quit just yet. It is a pity, but it is what happens and I just wish I knew why.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.