Jones hopeful for future fights
By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Boxing Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The king of Gulf Coast boxing has reclaimed his throne, but it was hardly a pain-free coronation.
Roy Jones Jr., once universally recognized as the sport's pound-for-pound champion while racking up nearly every title belt from 160 on up, beat down an inspired challenge from newcomer Anthony Hanshaw before a three-quarters full house of loyal subjects at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
The 38-year-old native of nearby Pensacola, Fla. ended a year of inactivity with a unanimous decision - copping scorecard verdicts of 114-113, 117-110 and 118-109 - while improving to 51-4 overall and also earning the lightly regarded IBC light heavyweight championship belt.
"For being off a year, it wasn't too bad," said Jones, who took control after hurting Hanshaw with a left hook to the body in the ninth round, then landed a three-punch combination in the 11th to score the fight's lone knockdown. "He was trying to counter me and he's a good puncher, so I had to put them together."
The win was the second in a row for the 1988 Olympian, who'd won 49 of his first 50 career bouts before a three-fight tailspin that included knockout defeats against Antonio Tarver and Glencoffe Johnson and a wide decision loss to Tarver in their third bout.
Jones defeated Prince Badi Ajamu via 12-round decision in his last outing, in June 2006.
Saturday's bout was billed as both a homecoming for Jones and recovery step for the region, still visibly impacted by the effects of Hurricane Katrina nearly two years ago.
"The people here were down and out and needed someone to bring them back," he said. "I was down and out and I needed someone to bring me back. So together, maybe we can help bring each other back."
Though he refused to say how much longer he'll continue to fight, Jones rattled off a laundry list of future foes including Johnson, Tarver, Felix Trinidad, Wladimir Klitschko and Jermain Taylor during a post-fight press conference/revival led by promoter Murad Muhammad.
Pre-fight rumors had indicated Trinidad as the most likely of the possible opponents, though Jones said afterward, "(Trinidad's) talking about doing it in January 2008, and I can't wait that long. I'm 38 years old. I ain't got a lot of time to play. I want somebody to give me a challenge.
"They always tell me that I've got to pass the torch when it's time, but my time ain't come yet. If somebody calls me tomorrow, I'll tell them I'll be ready in three or four weeks. I don't care who it is."
Hanshaw, of Massillon, Ohio, scored well in the early rounds, frequently pinning Jones against the ropes and landing combinations on and around his arms.
Jones was able to land several quick, straight right hands throughout the fight, but seldom put his punches together with any regularity until hurting the previously unbeaten 29-year-old, now 21-1-1, with the body shot in the ninth.
"I thought I won the fight. I put pressure on him. I think he might have won maybe three rounds the whole night," said Hanshaw - a natural 168-pounder who weighed 175 against Jones - while calling for a future match with either Bernard Hopkins or Winky Wright.
"I'm a super middleweight and I want that winner next."
Elsewhere on the card, the NABA welterweight title bout between Oscar Diaz and Juan Buendia ended in a no-contest after Diaz was badly cut by an unintentional head butt in the opening minute of the first round.
Also, Pensacola's Derrick Gainer won an unpopular split decision over Las Vegas import Carlos Navarro in a 10-round lightweight bout. Gainer, now 41-7-1, earned verdicts of 96-94 and 96-92 on two scorecards, while Navarro was seen as a 98-94 winner on the third.