Boxing
Desperate times for Jones
Lyle Fitzsimmons

By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Boxing Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -Is it just me, or is Roy Jones Jr. getting a mite desperate?

The former undisputed pound-for-pound champion - whose mere presence on a card was once enough to provide instant credibility - has tangibly fallen off the map when it comes to drawing interest in his latest comeback.

Perhaps knowing that a former great playing out the string on pay-per-view wasn't sufficient to compete with an attractive tripleheader on "regular" cable, Jones and his team really pulled out the stops to create a buzz this week.

"Furious Tony 'The Tyger' Hanshaw says he will destroy 'Rude' Roy Jones Saturday night," the press release headline read, amid the requisite capital letters and bold type. "Hanshaw promises to knock Jones out."

And the catalyst for all this venom, you ask?

Why it's Jones himself, of course.

Though as a promoter, he makes a pretty good basketball player.

Seems the ex-light heavyweight and heavyweight kingpin - inactive since a lopsided defeat of Prince Badi Ajamu ended his three-fight skid last summer - irked the Hanshaw team by barring the visiting Ohioan and his handlers from using fight-week training facilities at the IP Casino Resort Spa.

The snub, apparently enforced by piece-toting security guards at the hotel, forced Hanshaw and Co. to endure back-and-forth rides through heavy Mississippi traffic - some 40 minutes each way, according to the scathing release - to work out at the Gulfport Boxing Gym.

It's the stuff that hate is made of.

"I had so much respect for this guy and it has all gone out the window," Hanshaw said. "This is just a chicken-spit tactic designed to get in my head. Don't worry about my head, Roy Jones, you need to worry about my fists because I am going to whip that ass like Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson did."

Ummm...thanks Roy, but is this really the best you could come up with?

And somewhere, Don King is laughing.

Regardless of whether he beats Hanshaw - and the guess here is that he will, by another lopsided decision - here's hoping Jones will leave the promotion to the professionals for future fights and spend his free time recapturing the air-tight defense and all-around athleticism that so shockingly failed him against Tarver and Johnson.

If a rumored match with fellow comebacker Felix Trinidad actually happens this January, he'll need every bit of it.

Funny, though - as weak as it was, it's easy to see why Jones felt he needed a promotional boost.

HBO will go live from coast to coast against his $29.95 show on Saturday, featuring a pair of welterweight bouts from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City before jumping three time zones left for another 147-pound encounter in Carson, Calif.

Kermit Cintron will make the first defense of his newly-won IBF belt in the show's 9 p.m. opener, taking on Argentine veteran Walter Matthysse. Now 27 and working under the watchful eyes of Emanuel Steward, Cintron is unbeaten in three bouts since a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time collapse against Antonio Margarito in April 2005.

Roy Jones Jr.
Roy Jones Jr. will be fighting Furious Tony 'The Tyger' Hanshaw
The seashore main event spotlights cockroach-resilient Jersey hero Arturo Gatti, who'll face first-season Contender alum Alfonso Gomez in a 10-rounder while trying to halt a two-stoppage-losses-in-three-bouts skid. With a win, the 35-year-old Gatti will likely secure a date with second-generation phenom Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. later this year.

Ironically, he'll have trilogy foe Micky Ward in his corner against Gomez.

The card's potential gem comes in the third fight, when WBO champ Margarito tries for successful defense No. 8 against 6-foot-1 freak of nature Paul Williams, who'll enter with a pristine 32-0 record and 24 knockouts. Margarito, now 34-4 with 24 KOs, hasn't lost a fight at welterweight since 1996.

The two first met in a sparring session some three years ago, though accounts of the get-together vary greatly by source. Williams claims Margarito's handlers put an end to the clash after three punishing rounds, while the Mexican champion insists it was a battered Williams and his people who refused to stay for a fourth.

"I think you are going to see little different things from me," said Margarito, a 29-year-old native of Tijuana. "We are going to develop a real good strategy for his style and you will see me coming out of this fight with a victory."

FitzHitz says: Cintron in 8, Gatti in 5, Margarito in 10.

I've made a few observations since becoming a full-time Floridian seven weeks ago.

First, the weather freakin' rocks.

It rains a little nearly every day, but for the other 23 hours it's every bit of paradise.

Second, the scenery is great.

Whether it's Shamu swimming in Orlando, the sun setting at Mallory Square or summer school students - or at least half of them, anyway - strolling across the University of Florida campus - again, it's every bit of paradise.

And third, Nate Campbell is one of my new favorite fighters.

The Jacksonville native made his seventh career trip to Tampa a successful one with a sudden sixth-round stoppage of Wilson Alcorro, in the headline bout of ESPN's trip to the Florida State Fairgrounds Hall on Friday night.

Every bit as colorful as his "Galaxxy Warrior" nickname suggests, the 35-year- old grandfather (yes, he's a grandfather for God's sake) wobbled and dropped his Colombian foe with a pair of smashing right hands in the session's first half-minute.

But he was even better conversationally later on, both during requisite post- fight chats in the locker room and less formal dialogue at the card's festive after-party in a local Tampa bar-restaurant establishment.

"I shouldn't have to ask for the shot. I shouldn't have to look for the shot. It's my shot," Campbell said, referring to a seemingly imminent title try against IBF lightweight champ Julio Diaz - for whom Campbell is a mandatory challenger.

"I don't care which Diaz it is. Julio, (WBC champ) David or (WBA champ) Juan. I'll fight any Diaz who wants to get in a ring with me and put a title up."

Sharing the bill, albeit in a much lesser role, was former heavyweight title challenger DaVarryl Williamson, who scored just his second win in two years with a third-round stoppage of chubby and unwilling Philadelphian Maurice Wheeler.

Williamson, who'll turn 39 later this month, was beaten by unanimous decision in a shot at Chris Byrd's IBF belt in October 2005 and had fought just once since, stopping previously unbeaten Mike Mollo in four rounds in May 2006.

Now healthy and refocused, the soft-spoken but agitated Colorado resident said he's ready to again carve a niche for himself in the wide-open heavyweight ranks.

"I'm ready to fight a top-10 guy and make some noise," he said. "They know I'm out here. They know I'm talented. But sometimes you've got to take fights like this just to take care of business. I need to make money. I've got a family. It's hard not doing it for 14 months. It's time to stop playing games and just fight."

Aside from the aforementioned goings-on this Saturday night, the weekend's title fights are of a decidedly foreign flavor.

WBC super flyweight champ Cristian Mijares - who topped power-punching veteran Jorge Arce his last time out - will defend his 115-pound belt against Japanese export Teppei Kikui on Friday night in his native Mexico. Mijares, now 31-3-2, hasn't lost a bout in five years.

On Saturday, unbeaten Canadian super bantamweight Steve Molitor defends the IBF's title against South African challenger Takalani Ndlovu at the Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario. Molitor (23-0) won his championship with a fifth- round KO of formerly unbeaten Michael Hunter in England last November.

Elsewhere, unbeaten Brit favorite Nicky Cook faces off against Californian Steven Luevano for the vacant WBO featherweight title at the O2 Arena in London. Cook enters with a pristine 27-0 record, while Luevano has lost just once in 33 career fights. Also on that card, Amir Khan meets Willie Limond for the Commonwealth lightweight title.

And lastly, in Mexico, Fernando Montiel makes his fourth defense of the WBO super flyweight title in a 12-rounder against Cecilio Santos. Montiel won the title with a seventh-round KO of Ivan Hernandez in April 2005 and has lost just once since - by split decision to Jhonny Gonzalez in a try for the WBO bantamweight crown in May 2006.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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