Even in defeat, Jones stands test of time
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
It's sure been a tough year in the legacy business.
For those who actually have one, that is.
No matter the acclaim earned over a career's worth of service in the athletic field of choice, it seems a keyboard-toting basement-dweller is never far away with a binder's worth of evidence as to why another second in the spotlight -- win, lose or draw -- will immediately turn it all to dust.
Case in point: Brett Favre.
You know ... the guy from the Wrangler commercials.
Just a few months ago, seems every would-be genius with Internet access and an NFL Ticket subscription was reciting reasons why the mercurial No. 4 should call it quits once and for all, lest he erase all the good crammed into a multiple-MVP, multiple-title game and multiple-record-holding resume.
As for how those brilliant forecasts turned out, well ... check the latest football news.
Regardless of what happens to Roy Jones Jr. from here on out, he's still "Superman."
Not only did the 40-year-old complete 32 passes for a season-best 392 yards and three TDs while playing an NFL-record (for non-kickers) 282nd straight game on Sunday, but the team many damned for signing him won for the 10th time and padded its division lead to three games with five to play.
Not exactly Pulitzer material for forecasters.
So when it comes to boxing, what makes anyone think they'd know any better?
Still, nearly every day since October 2005 -- when a unanimous decision against Antonio Tarver provided a third straight loss in a career that 18 months earlier had been sans blemish -- some soothsayer from some outlet has written that Roy Jones Jr. ought to retire in order to protect his legacy.
Or more accurately, the writer's warped view of it.
As if those three losses -- or 33 more, for that matter -- would be enough to cancel out championships in four weight classes, one-sided wins over a roll call of Hall of Famers and more highlight-reel history than any 100 fighters who'd given up at the first sign of adversity.
It was nonsense then ... as a subsequent three-fight win streak, a distance outing against unbeaten pound-for-pound elite Joe Calzaghe and subsequent bounce-back wipeouts of Omar Sheika (TKO 5) and Jeff Lacy (TKO 10) proved.
And it's nonsense now -- even as it continues.
Admittedly, no one's arguing that Sheika and Lacy are anyone's idea of Ray Robinson.
But the one-sidedness of the victories proved, if nothing at all else, that on a good night Jones at 40 can still handle himself quite well against 99 percent of the active pros out there.
And for the life of me, so long as he's physically able, I can't understand why that's a bad thing.
Or how it takes anything away from what happened between 1989 and 2004, when he won 49 of 50.
In my view, short of him pulling an O.J. Simpson or a Pete Rose, it makes no difference whatsoever.
Those legacies are forever tarnished by off-the-field failings. Jones' history is safe.
Muhammad Ali lost to Trevor Berbick, but he's still "The Greatest."
Ray Leonard lost to Hector Camacho, but he's still "Sugar Ray."
Julio Cesar Chavez lost to Grover Wiley, but he's still "El Gran Campeon Mexicano."
And regardless of what happens to Jones from here on out, he's still "Superman."
He donned the cape Wednesday night in Australia with kryptonite results, falling via Chuck Woolery special -- in two minutes, two seconds -- at the fists of incumbent hometown hero Danny Green in a try for the IBO cruiserweight title.
A win could have earned him a belt in the one class he skipped while acquiring scalps from 160 pounds to heavyweight in his heyday. And it would have set up a slam-dunk PPV event for 2010 -- a rematch of a 1993 middleweight match with Bernard Hopkins.
Hopkins fought Wednesday night in Philadelphia against a far less ominous opponent in Enrique Ornelas, scoring a wide 12-round decision. Afterward, he suggested a match with Jones, in spite of his counterpart's poor result, wasn't out of the question.
Promoter Gary Shaw, in a blaze of sarcasm surely fueled by an inability to get Hopkins to meet Chad Dawson, offered Thursday to promote the bout as an undercard finale to a light heavyweight title defense by his top client in April on HBO.
Bernard's own last few years have been only marginally better than Jones' -- featuring a 4-3 record to Roy's 5-5, a far less-watchable loss to Calzaghe and a win over Kelly Pavlik that Jones could probably have matched had he gotten to the robotic Ohioan first.
Hopkins is old, too. Defeating 100 Enrique Ornelases doesn't change that.
But while the naysayers look at that and see 100 reasons to instead watch 25- year-old bantamweights with no legacies to compromise, I'll drop another $55 as a tribute to those who've proven their worth to me 100 times over. Even after Wednesday's less-than-optimum results.
It might not be Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees in their primes ... but I've got a feeling the old guys might still be worthy of a good score on the way to induction.
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This week's title-fight schedule:
WBA bantamweight title - Agde, France Anselmo Moreno (champion) vs. Frederic Patrac (No. 15 contender) Moreno (27-1-1, 9 KO): Fifth title defense; Unbeaten since 2002 (21-0, 7 KO) Patrac (26-7-1, 13 KO): First title fight; Won 12 straight since 14-7-1 start
Fitzbitz says: Moreno by decision
WBA super lightweight title - Newcastle, United Kingdom Amir Khan (champion) vs. Dmitriy Salita (No. 1 contender) Khan (21-1, 15 KO): First title defense; Three wins since lone loss (3-0, 1 KO) Salita (30-0-1, 16 KO): First title fight; First fight outside North America
Fitzbitz says: Khan in 9
WBO cruiserweight title - Ludwigsburg, Germany Marco Huck (champion) vs. Ola Afolabi (interim champion) Huck (26-1, 20 KO): First title defense; Lost IBF title shot in 2007 Afolabi (14-1-3, 6 KO): First title fight; Never fought past 10 rounds
Fitzbitz says: Afolabi by decision
Last week's picks: 2-2
Overall picks record: 148-57 (72.1 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at email@example.com, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.