By Ari Gilberg
No matter the sport, all athletes have it. That fire that fuels them. That competitive mindset that allows them to push their bodies to new limits. It’s what separates the average from the good, the good from the great, the great from the legendary.
When you talk about an athlete’s competitiveness it’s almost always in a positive manner. Michael Jordan once said, “I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.”
Sometimes, however, that competitive nature that all great athletes have is generally what ultimately leads to their downfall. That drive they have, to continue fighting against all odds, is what also prevents them from hanging it up.
A 40-year old Michael Jordan suiting up for the Wizards. A 42-year old Jerry Rice giving it one last go with the Seahawks. And now, a 46-year old Roy Jones Jr. fighting mediocre club fighters to extend his career.Embed from Getty Images
Jones Jr. (60-8, with 43 knockouts, according to ESPN) first broke into professional boxing 25 years ago and held the title of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world for nearly a decade. He recently squared off, and recording a technical knockout, against club fighter Paul Vasquez (10-6-1 with three knockouts, according to ESPN) this past Saturday at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida, Jones’ hometown.
Why Roy, why? Why are you so desperate to continue your career that you’re lowering yourself to fighting club fighters? CLUB FIGHTERS! To put this into context, picture Michael Jordan trying to extend his career even longer by playing in the D-League. Yes, it’s that bad.
And before anyone even makes the comparison, this is not even a remotely similar situation to Bernard Hopkins—who at 49-years old also refuses to retire. Hopkins has not only had continued success into his late years, but he has also faced real competition. The last five fighters Hopkins has faced currently own a combined record of 118-3-2, according to Box Rec.
Jones Jr.? 73-25-4, a difference of 45 wins.
While Hopkins is fighting title-holders, Jones Jr. is facing inexperienced fighters who still have acne on their faces and just got their braces off.
Which, once again, begs the question—why? Jones Jr. clearly no longer possesses the ability to compete at a high level. Nor, after losing three consecutive fights from 2009-2011 to Danny Green—technical knockout in the first round, Hopkins—unanimous decision, and Denis Lebedev—knockout in the 10th round, does he have the ability to face tough competition.Embed from Getty Images
So why keep fighting? He’s already a lock for the Hall of Fame and will go down as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing’s history, so what more does Jones Jr. have left to prove?
Is it money? He has plenty. Glory? Former title-belt holder and recognized as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world for nearly ten years, I think he’s good. Pride? Doubtful. What’s so prideful about beating up on a bunch of amateurs?
Jones Jr.’s unanimous decision over Hopkins, and his knockout of Glenn Kelly—those were impressive. Defeating a 10-6 club fighter? No cares in the slightest. A former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion fighting against boxers with little professional experience.
Since his string of three consecutive losses, none of the fighters Jones Jr. has faced had more than 18 victories at the time of the fight. It’s pathetic. Jones Jr. even seemingly acknowledged as so, begging his fans not to pity him at his press conference promoting his upcoming fight against Vasquez.
“Yeah, I’m not youthful or as bouncy as I used to be, but I’m smarter than I used to be,” Jones said. “With that being said, don’t feel sorry for me, don’t worry about me, don’t be scared for me. I’ve got this.”
I’m not claiming that you don’t “got this” Roy, I’m stating that no one cares whether you do or don’t. You’re not helping anyone in this situation. You’re competitive, we get it, but you’re only hurting yourself. You’re once fruitful face is filled with wrinkles. Your jet-black hair is being contaminated by tints of grey. Boxing is a dangerous sport, and I’m sorry Roy, but, with your age and decline in ability, there’s no longer any reason for you to continue.Embed from Getty Images
Roy Jones Jr. is so competitive that he’s fighting purely for the sake of fighting. But, for over a decade now, his hardest bout hasn’t been against Hopkins, or Lebedev, or Antonio Tarver. His most difficult opponent, the man that will keep coming out you from all angles so relentlessly no matter what you throw at him, has been Father Time.
Well, after 12 hard-fought rounds, Father Time has won. Do yourself a favor and move on Roy. It’s time to hang ‘em up.