Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jones/Hopkins II: Who They Are and Why Should I Care?

Boxing is not a perfect sport. There are instances of fighters who take forever to get a title shot (Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Frankie Randall), shady promoters (Don King) and scorecards that makes you think wonder if Helen Keller was sitting at ringside as a judge (Lewis/Holyfield I, Williams/Martinez). But one thing just as annoying as any of those is a fighter that doesn't know when to quit.

Helen Keller or a corrupt Las Vegas boxing judge? You decide!

Today I'll be writing about two such fighter: Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. Both are two of the best fighters of their era and both have been fighting professionally for over twenty years and both continue to fight despite being over the age of 40.

Both came from different backgrounds. Jones was brought up by a tough, hard knocks father who was grooming his son to be a champion. Stardom seemed evident for Jones when he got screwed by clones of Helen Keller at the 1988 Seoul Olympics after dominating his opponent from start to finish.

Can you spot Helen Keller in this video?

Despite this, Jones went on with his pro career and ended up winning titles at Middleweight, Super-Middleweight, Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight and was named the best fighter of the 1990's as well. But before all the titles, he came up against a tough contender from Philadelphia named Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins was also an amateur boxer but was pulled into the street gangs and then thrown into prison where he converted to Islam and got back into training so that upon his release, he could turn professional and become a champion. But after losing his first fight, Hopkins took a year and a half off and then tallied up a 22 win streak which lead to his first title fight against Roy Jones, both of whom were fighting for the vacant middleweight title in 1993.

Since these two men are considered the best of their era, it should come as no shock to you that the fight was boring as all hell. They barely made contact with each other and it almost made you wonder how anyone could say, "Wow, I'd like to see those two have a rematch!"

From there they went separate paths. Jones moved up in weight and began a long dominance in the light-heavyweight division. Hopkins stayed at middleweight where he quickly won title after title until finally reaching super stardom when in late 2001, he knocked out (and destroyed the career of) Felix Trinidad to become the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler. Jones in the mean time had beaten everyone who had come before him and even avenged a DQ loss by a 1 round knockout.

While both were dominant, Jones was the flashier of the two. He had faster hands, better athleticism and the ability to knock you out with his hands behind his back (Seriously, he did that once). He was a major force for HBO Boxing and got so popular (or arrogant) that he wrote a rap song that was simply a love letter to himself about how great he was. Along the way he also kept dropping hints that he was going to move up to heavyweight and fight Evander Holyfield and while this was back in 1997, don't be too surprised if that fight somehow ends up happening next year.

Boxing fans in regards to Roy Jones Jr's constant talk of moving up to heavyweight

So in 2003, Jones vacated his undisputed light-heavyweight title and moved up to face perhaps one of the worst heavyweights in recent memory, John Ruiz for the meaningless WBA title. Never mind that Lennox Lewis was seen as the king of the heavyweights, having beaten every opponent either the first time or in a rematch and had just come off of spanking Mike Tyson. No, instead Jones picked John Ruiz and promptly won a small chunk of the heavyweight championship. It was his last moment of greatness.

After unsuccessful attempts to lure Holyfield or Tyson into the ring with him (But not Lewis), Jones moved back down to light-heavyweight where he fought Antonio Tarver. Jones seemed sluggish in the fight and perhaps losing all that muscle he put on for the Ruiz fight affected him. Many thought that Jones didn't deserve the decision over Tarver so they had a rematch. Jones was knocked out in the second round.

Deciding that a tuneup was in order, Jones decided to fight recent journeyman turned IBF light-heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson who sported a record of 40-9-2. This time Jones was knocked out in the ninth round. He then lost a decision to Tarver. After winning some meaningless fights that no one watched, Jones came back against another faded star, Felix Trinidad.

Believe it or not, Trinidad was actually more shot than Jones despite being knocked out only once in his career and getting out jabbed in his previous fight. And while it was entertaining, it gave a lot of fans the impression that the old Roy Jones was back and going to rule the light-heavyweight division. Then came his fight against undefeated champ Joe Calzaghe.

Do I really need to explain that Jones lost the Calzaghe fight?

Once again back to fighting nobodies in nowhere, Jones was given a chance to reclaim the spotlight by fighting old rival Bernard Hopkins who had just come off his best victory against Kelly Pavlik. Knowing that Hopkins was still dangerous despite being older, Jones decided he would go to Australia and have a tuneup fight against Danny Green. It was perhaps the worst decision of his career because he was knocked out in one round as well as his plans of a rematch with Hopkins.

Speaking of Bernard, as I mentioned he stayed at middleweight and became the undisputed champion and reached superstar status the same year Jones lost his when in 2004, he knocked out the biggest name in the sport, Oscar de la Hoya. However the following year he lost his titles and a rematch to Jermain Taylor. With talk of retirement in the air, Hopkins decided to move up in weight and challnege Antonio Tarver for the light-heavyweight title and promptly beat the shit out of Tarver.

Deciding that he was still good in his 40's as he was in his 30's, Hopkins fought Winky Wright and beat him and then came up against Joe Calzaghe who had moved up from super-middleweight. Now when I first saw them fight, I was excited, especially when Hopkins dropped him in the first round. But from there it was the following: *Punch; clinch; punch; clinch*

Normally fighters hug each other AFTER the fight, not during...

It really annoyed me because that was the first time my dad had sat down and watched an actual fight with me from start to finish in an attempt to find out why I was so in love with the sport. And while this did leave a sour taste in his mouth, highlights of Pacquiao/Marquez II quickly erased any bad memories he had.

Hopkins lost, a decision I agreed with but lately I've been thinking of going back and scoring it again. Anyway, at that point I though Hopkins was shot and was annoyed that he was going to be fighting middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at a catchweight of 170 pounds. My prediction was that Hopkins was going to be too slow and by the 6th round, the hard hitting Pavlik would have Hopkins down and out.

Well it turns out that just the opposite happened and Pavlik was given a 12 round, one sided beating of a lifetime and in one bout Hopkins erased the doubt that might have been raised in the fights with Taylor and Calzaghe. And at the point, after this great victory, I thought Hopkins should have retired.

But no. He's still got a hardon for fighting Roy Jones and beating the shit out of him. And even though Jones lost his tuneup fight while Hopkins won his, this fight is still happening? Why? What will it prove? The fight should have happened nine years ago when they were still good at what they did.

If anything, this makes Hopkins look kind of petty. He still wants to fight a guy who has lost five of his last ten fights, four of those losses coming by knockout. Hopkins can't really win in this fight anyway. By that I mean, he can't do anything to Jones that can't be done before.

He can't frustrate Jones to where he'll make an illegal move and be disqualified, Griffin did that.
He can't knock him out in the first 3 rounds, Tarver did that. He also beat him over 12 rounds.
He can't dominate Jones when he was expected to lose and knock him out. Johnson did that.
He won't pick himself up off the canvas to come back and spank Jones silly. Calzaghe did that.
I bet that Hopkins was hoping to knock Roy out in the first round and really shock everyone but then Danny Green had to go and fuck that up for him. So you understand, whatever Hopkins does to Roy Jones, it's already been done. But I don't think he'll knock him out. He couldn't knock out Pavlik or What's His Face in his last tuneup.

So will I watch this fight? Still not sure but if I do I'm not going to throw out fifty bucks like the promoters are expecting us to. I'll find some illegal streaming site and watch it for free. How else do you think I watched Pavlik/Hopkins?

It's a meaningless fight that HBO PPV is going to force down our throats to make us think like it's the Rumble in the Jungle while at the same time, fighters who are younger, hungrier and more deserving of a big fight are pushed into the side while two old men fight to see who, at the end of the day, can say has a bigger cock.

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