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17 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham

Roy Jones Jr - September 2001: Hopkins, Trinidad, Ya’ll Must Have Forgot

Hopkins-Jones 2 never happened: Tom Casino
Hopkins-Jones 2 never happened: Tom Casino

In September 2001, Roy Jones Jr was the undisputed light heavyweight boxing champion of the world, holding the WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO world titles. SecondsOut’s Paul Upham sat down and spoke to Jones about Bernard Hopkins’ then recent win over Felix Trinidad to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world and the chances of Jones Jr and Hopkins meeting in a rematch.

By Paul Upham: For the greater part of the last ten years, Roy Jones Jr. has been the best boxer on the planet. Forget about the one disqualification loss on his record. 32 year-old Jones has never been beaten in the ring and has never even come close to being hurt. He has been at the top of the pound for pound rankings for so long and has seen so many world champions come and go that he could never understand how anybody could rank Felix Trinidad above him.

Currently in Australia, filming the sequels to “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves, Jones was not surprised with Bernard Hopkins’ win over Felix Trinidad on September 29 and considering that Jones beat Hopkins way back in May 1993, what does that say about the comparison between him and Trinidad?

“That fight was not really a hard fight to call because, me knowing Bernard Hopkins, I beat Bernard with one hand basically back when we fought in 1993,” said Jones.

“I asked Don King, when Don asked me about fighting Felix Trinidad, I said, ‘Don, I’ll fight Trinidad, but do me a favour. Keep him away from Bernard Hopkins. Keep him away from Shane Mosley. He cannot beat those guys. He is not as good as you all think he is.

“The tough man ain’t the better fighter. He cannot last with me. I told him I’ve got a song about Trinidad, ‘if he goes past five rounds then there must be something wrong with me’. He couldn’t go five rounds with me.”

The plan of promoter Don King and the executives of Madison Square Garden and HBO was to eventually match Trinidad with Jones in a huge super-fight. A Trinidad-Jones fight is now no more, which Jones admits has cost him a lot of money.

“It cost me probably around, roughly about US$20 million, but we won’t talk about that,” he said. “I told Don (King) in a room in Pensacola, Florida in a hotel meeting that if you want to see Roy Jones-Trinidad, do not fight Bernard Hopkins. How much clearer can it get than that?”

Trinidad employed his usual come straight ahead style and had no Plan B, which Jones says he could always see was not going to allow him to beat Hopkins.

“There never is and that’s what my point is that I’ve been telling people,” explained Jones. “He beat young fighters or people who ain’t really trying to fight him. He can’t fight but one way. He’s one dimensional. He’s always been that way.

“I’m like sitting back wondering, how could you all really look at that and really think that he could beat me? That’s what I used to wonder when people used to come up with that. I couldn’t even argue about that no more. But I told everybody that I knew and said ‘look, if he fights Bernard Hopkins, it’s over. He’s not going to make it to me, don’t worry. He won’t ever get a chance to fight me’, and that’s what happened.”

Lateral movement is what troubles Trinidad.

“De La Hoya did that the whole time and De Le Hoya just quit fighting,” Jones agreed. “But, one thing I do like about this is the fact that it shows once again all those guys that came up and went down in my time, I’m still here. Guys that I beat, have beaten what they were calling better punchers than I am. I beat this man (Hopkins) with one hand. He punished Trinidad. Punished. Now I am going to punish him. He punished Trinidad like Trinidad was a nobody. Just like I’m going to punish him if we fight.”

Unless you are a fighter yourself and have been put in similar circumstances, it is very hard to predict how any boxer will perform or react under adverse conditions says Jones.

“But still, that proves my point,” he said. “You don’t know fighters until you put them in the ring. If you haven’t been in there, don’t sit back and talk about how tough somebody is or how tough you think you are until you been there. When it comes down to it, skill can be outmatched with heart, but when you’ve got heart and skill, you got a problem named Roy Jones.”

Is Hopkins a better fighter now that when Jones beat him in 1993?

“No, but his confidence level is going to be a little bit higher,” said Jones. “See, what I did was I played a game with Hopkins. I knew that I only had one hand, so I outsmarted him. I confused him before the fight happened. When I confused him, I just said now I have to go in and carry out my plan and I did so he didn’t have a chance. He is very confident and he is going to be on a high now. He is 37 years old. He’s going to go out to see if he can beat Roy Jones. Well I ain’t. My motivation is now I’m going to see if I can knock out Bernard Hopkins cold.

“He’s been around for eight years, ten years. He’s been around as long as I have almost. I think four fights after he fought me, he won the title so he’s even had that title for nearly as long as I’ve been champion.”

Even though Jones regards Hopkins as an excellent fighter, a rematch between the two wouldn’t bring in the huge dollars that a clash with Trinidad would have because of the support ‘Tito’ enjoys from the boxing fans of Puerto Rico.

“Hopkins is an excellent fighter,” said Jones. “But they never gave him any credibility and even though he beat Trinidad, they ain’t going to give him any real credibility. Trinidad brought a whole continent of people. He brought the whole of Puerto Rico and all the Puerto Ricans living in America. He’s got a whole country against country and that’s always a much bigger rival than a U.S versus a U.S.”

Jones promises that he won’t be looking to win by points if he fights Hopkins again, vowing to bring out his alter ego “RJ”, who was last seen in his stunning rematch knockout win over Montell Griffin in August 1997.

“No, I’m strictly going to try and knock him out,” he said. “I’ve already beat him, now I want to knock him out. There ain’t no sense in playing, it’s up to ‘RJ’ now. Crush him. I want to break his jaw bone. I’m glad to see him prevail, to see him fight against the odds. I’m happy for him really. But I know how much he talks and if he do be talking about me then he’s going to make me mad and he’s going to make me lose my mind. I’m really happy for the guy right now because all that does is give me self gratification for what I am. Because I know and I’ve been knowing it.”

Jones plans to do everything possible to keep the WBC/WBA/IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles unified and will be looking to make his mandatory defences before any rematch with Hopkins.

“I’ve got to fight Glenn Kelly, then I’ve got to fight Clinton Woods then I may fight Hopkins,” he said. “I want to see if I can put the fight with Glenn Kelly on here in Australia. If we can come up with the right amount of money we will.”

Going to Germany to fight current WBO champion Dariusz Michalczewski Jones says is not an option.

“That’s not a challenge,” he said. “I got jobbed at the Olympics in 1988. I know how it is to go out of a country and be totally mistreated. I feel safe because people seem different here (in Australia). People seem nicer and I haven’t heard of any bad transactions from someone else from the United States fighting here in Australia.

“Germany, there is way too many stories for Roy Jones to take his titles into Dariusz’ backyard and expect to be treated any kind of way decently. I’m not going to go over, I haven’t got a point to prove. I’ve been a champ for twelve years and still, he got a point to prove. Come see me if you want me. I’m here. I’ll fight anybody. I don’t care. I’ve never ducked and dodged.”

Jones’ loss at the 1988 Olympics where he was robbed of a Gold medal in the final by dishonest judging has stayed with him throughout his career.

“I’m going to hold that loss close to my heart,” Jones admitted. “God gave it to me for a reason. If you step off that ledge and break your ankle today, when it heals up don’t come back and step off it again tomorrow or next time or you’re going to break your ankle again. If you do it again, then you need your ankle broke.”

Despite their rivalry, Jones gives much credit to Hopkins and seems to have great respect for the man who is the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler in 1987.

“He is a damn good person,” he said. “He is one of the best people I know and he is a warrior. When he told them he came to go to war, he came to go to war. He didn’t come there to give nothing away and that’s why I knew he would prevail because when we fought, he fought me hard.

“It’s just I out-smarted him and I didn’t give him a chance to start fighting me early enough because the first six rounds he was so afraid, he didn’t know what to do. So I figured I’d win the first six rounds with the jab alone, which I did. I can win every other round, I can out-hustle anybody. I’m a hustler. It’s what I do for a living.

“If Hopkins had to retire yesterday, who on his record is a recognisable name that he defeated? Nobody. He had to win this (Trinidad) fight. If he don’t win this fight, he’d go down in history with not a win over nobody. Not one single recognisable middleweight of his time. He did not have a win against nobody. Who does he have a win over on his record that you recognise? Nobody. You don’t know Syd Vanderpool, you don’t know Antwun Echols, nobody knows them.

“But he had to have this. I told a friend of mine, I said he’d die before he lose this fight. Because what is his family going to have to say, he was out there and beat who? My son beat who? He didn’t beat nobody until he beat ‘Tito’. Now he can say, ‘I was the one that stopped Tito’. Before this he had nothing. No claim to fame. He had to have it, that’s why I’m so happy for him.”

If Jones was the one facing Trinidad last Saturday night in a huge marquee event, he predicted that he would have stopped the Puerto Rican inside three rounds.

“He wouldn’t have made it past three rounds,” said Jones. “Let me tell you something. I ain’t none of Bernard Hopkins, I ain’t none of him. I was born to do this. I don’t play that scene. With all that hype that would have got me hyped. I got hot watching.

“When I saw Trinidad fight Vargas I was saying to myself, ‘I am a Christian guy, I believe in God and I love God and I love what God does for me’, but at the Vargas fight I thought I was being crazy, because I would hurt Trinidad and I really don’t want to do that. But it is a big money fight and I would not try to go and knock him out and get it over with so I’m going to have to punish him and I could have seriously injured the dude, so I am glad he didn’t make it to me because I would have had to hurt him because he would have kept coming and I’d have kept punching.”

Jones is looking forward to the release of his first album Round One, which contains a song which he feels accurately describes what he feels about those who have criticised him.

“I’ve got a few songs on my CD, as you know I’ve got a lot of different things that I do, but I’ve got one called, ‘Ya’ll Must Have Forgot’, you know what I mean?” asked Jones. “One of my lines in ‘Ya’ll Must Have Forgot’ is, ‘You got the nerve to say I ain’t fight nobody, I just make them look like nobody, you all must have forgot’. That man Hopkins just showed you all, that ya’ll had to have forgot.”

Paul Upham
Content Editor
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