Jones looks his age in loss to Calzaghe
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
New York, NY (Sports Network) -
Roy Jones Jr. was hoping to be his old self on Saturday night.
Instead, before a vocal crowd 14,152 at Madison Square Garden, he just looked old.
The former four-division world champion provided a highlight-reel moment with a first-round knockdown, but never equaled it the rest of the way en route to a methodical, bloody decision loss to unbeaten Welsh import Joe Calzaghe for the Ring Magazine light heavyweight championship.
The losing verdict came via matching counts of 118-109 for the 39-year-old Floridian, who appeared winded by Calzaghe's brisk pace by the bout's midway point and sustained a grotesque cut on his left eyelid from a straight right in the seventh round.
All three judges awarded Calzaghe every round after the first.
"I'm not sure," Jones said, when asked if it was his last fight. "I have to go back home and talk to my team."
The loss dropped him to 52-5 and ended a three-bout win streak that had taken him to Idaho and Mississippi before a return to New York with a wide decision over Felix Trinidad in January.
All three judges awarded Joe Calzaghe every round after the first.
Jones began calling for a Calzaghe match at the post-fight press conference that night, claiming he'd fly to Wales the next morning to get the deal done.
As it happened, the bout was co-promoted by Jones's Square Ring Inc. and Calzaghe Promotions.
"I love the way Roy fights," Calzaghe said. "I knew it was going to be a great fight.
"This year I beat two legends, (Bernard) Hopkins and Jones, and I came to the U.S. to do it. I took the risk. And tonight I came to New York to make it happen."
Now 46-0, Calzaghe never floored Jones, but landed the majority of punches in each round following the initial burst - which came when Jones clubbed Calzaghe with a straight right and briefly sent him to the floor for the second time in as many fights.
Replays showed it was actually Jones's right wrist and forearm that made contact.
"I had to get up and come back stronger," Calzaghe said. "The guy's a wicked fighter."
Calzaghe was dropped in the first round of an April matchup with Hopkins, but rallied to capture a controversial split decision.
"I didn't see the punch, but I've been down before and I just composed myself, got up and started to box," he said. "I knew I was hurt, but I took my time and didn't panic."
On Saturday, ringside doctors checked Jones's cut at the outset of every round, but never called a halt in spite of a persistent trickle of blood that would restart before the fighters engaged.
Calzaghe spent much of the early going mugging and playing to the crowd, winding up for the occasional bolo punch and maintaining a constant chatter.
The theatrics were replaced by violence in the middle going, when the Welshman began driving Jones to the ropes and turning his foes face into a crimson mask.
Final punch stats showed Calzaghe out-throwing Jones by a 985-475 count over 12 rounds, landing 35 percent (344) of his shots compared to Joness 33 percent (159).
Calzaghe landed 120 of 362 jabs and 224 of 623 power punches.
Jones landed 147 of 326 power shots and just 12 of 149 jabs.
Jones entered the bout a perfect 6-for-6 in New York, including two in the Gardens main room.
Previously, he'd stopped Merqui Sosa in two rounds in a non-title affair in January 1996.
He scored wins in the Garden's theater facility in 1992, 1996 and 1998, and successfully defended his WBA/WBC/IBF 175-pound titles against David Telesco at Radio City Music Hall in 2000.
Calzaghe was making just his second North American appearance.
He debuted in the U.S. with the split verdict over Hopkins in Las Vegas in April.
In his initial 44 pro bouts, the 36-year-old Welshman appeared 42 times in the United Kingdom, once in Germany and once in Denmark.
In the final preliminary bout, former 140- and 147-pound champion Zab Judah fought through two bloody cuts to down Ernest Johnson by 10-round unanimous decision.
The cuts came from accidental butts in the early rounds, but didn't keep the 31-year-old Judah from forcing the action en route to sweeping the cards by 99-91, 98-92 and 98-92.
Judah, now 3-4 with a no-contest in his last eight bouts, is 37-6 in a career that began in 1996.
Johnson, a 29-year-old based in California, fell to 18-3-1.