By Paul Upham: If you ever talk to your grandfather or someone who was watching boxing in the 1930s and 1940s, they will excitedly recall the greatness of Joe Louis. He held the heavyweight title of the world longer than any man in history when there was only one belt. Those who saw him in person recall his brutal punching power and the way he carried himself as a champion inside the ring. In the 1950s and 1960s, Sugar Ray Robinson was the cream of the sport and considered by many the greatest boxer of all-time. Anyone who witnessed him fight will recall his class with pride. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Muhammad Ali was the man in the sport. He could make an opponent look foolish outside of the ring with his words and then punish him with his footwork and hand speed within.
Fans who saw these three greats in their prime recall with pride how they were there at the arena. They saw greatness with their own eyes, as fresh and vivid in their mind as if it were yesterday. There are many of us now who would have loved to see Louis, Robinson and Ali live in the ring for ourselves so we could pass judgement on whether those black and white pictures really tell the truth.
In 40 years time, new boxing fans will ask the same questions of today’s boxers. How do they compare to the legends of the past? Will they be deemed as great as the champions in 2041? There will be many who will ask of the three-division champion of the 1990s and early 2000s. They will wish that they, too, were around to see the man in person, for television doesn’t always tell the whole story.
They will marvel at his speed, his flash and his confidence. But most of all, they will ask, was Roy Jones Jr. one of the all-time greats?
WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr is the undisputed world champion and for those who yell, “What about WBO champion Dariusz Michalczewski?” let him come over to the US to prove how good he really is.
There are many who have criticised Jones for not moving up to cruiserweight, not going to fight in Germany and not rematching with Bernard Hopkins. But it seems that, no matter what he achieves, the critics want to raise the bar a little higher. There was a call for a “Roycott” for his last defence against Julio Gonzalez, but the Staples Center was still filled with people in July.
Roy Jones Jr is one of the modern greats and it has always amazed me that he has not received his dues.
Do his critics forget that the only reason the middleweight and super-middleweight champion moved to light-heavyweight was for better competition? He is a super-middleweight dominating the light-heavie’s and it is not his fault that there has been no better competition around to challenge him.
Roy would be a favourite against anyone on the planet below 175lbs. Can you name one boxer who would not be intimidated by his unique combination of speed and power?
People have criticised him for facing undeserving mandatories, as if it was a crime to keep the title unified. I agree that he has faced plenty of inferior opposition of late, but who has he ever ducked? Which greats at 175 and 168 has he avoided?
The truth is that there has not been any opposition out there for him.
Yes, Roy Jones Jr has one loss on his record (a controversial disqualification defeat to Montell Griffin, subsequently avenged in a round), but he has never been beaten in the ring. He will most likely garner greater respect for his achievements many years in the future.
In forty years time, don’t be surprised if a young boxing fan asks about the “great” Roy Jones Jr. Do yourself a favor and appreciate his mastery while he is still around and don’t be too surprised if, many years from now, you end up recalling the experience with pride.