After literally falling flat on his face against Denis Lebedev (22-1) Saturday night in Moscow, it became crystal-clear why Roy Jones (54-8) avoided Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2) for so many years during his prime.
The argument can be made that Jones was one of the most entertaining and charismatic fighters of all-time, but a closer look at his record reveals that he struggled against the elite fighters of his era. While taunting and toying with the likes of David Telesco, Eric Harding, and Clinton Woods, he lost in dramatic fashion to Antonio Tarver (re-match), Joe Calzaghe, and Danny Green. When he eventually mustered up enough courage to face Hopkins in 2010, the two managed to dance around the ring long enough to produce what could possibly be the most boring fight of the century.
At the end of 12 rounds, Hopkins was declared the winner, Jones was tagged the loser, and every paying PPV fan felt like an idiot.
In all fairness, Hopkins has turned in some memorable performances lately, including impressive wins over Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, and Kelly Pavlik.
He recently completed a 12-round ring tutorial against former WBC champ Jean Pascal, a fight that placed the 46-year old in the history books as the oldest boxing champ of all-time.
In contrast, Jones’ fight on Saturday may have exposed him as the biggest chicken of all-time (which is ironic, being that he likens his boxing style to rooster fighting).
A week after the fight, a very well-spoken Hopkins (in contrast to the politically incorrect Hopkins who blasted Donovan McNabb for not growing up in the thug-life) joked on the Tom Joyner Show that doing push-ups between rounds might not have been a wise idea. While it clearly intimidated Pascal, Hopkins said he started second-guessing whether or not he needed that wasted energy in the late rounds. It also didn’t help that his cornerman, Nazim Richardson, kept barking in his ear to stop the “young man stuff”.
Hopkins eventually wore down the young champ by getting back to what we can now refer to as “grandpa” fighting: stiff jabs, occasional straight rights, dancing around the ring, and clinching when you’re in trouble.
So, what’s next for Hopkins? Hopkins claims he will retire at the end of this year. Until then, he expects to defend of his WBC title against mandatory challenger Chad Dawson and possibly Sergio Martinez. At his age, we may see “The Executioner” entering the ring with a cane, Huggies, and a mouthpiece customized to fit dentures, but we can be confident that Hopkins will at least show up to fight.
How does the future look for Jones? Well, he’s seems pretty confident that he still has some gas left in the tank.
“I don’t give up easily. I still might come back,” he said with a grin, shortly after regaining consciousness on Saturday.
In light of Jones’ recent performance, which was in stark contrast to Hopkins’, not many will be excited about suffering through a PPV event hyped on the return of a faded boxing legend.
If such a fight materializes for Jones, not many will be buying this time.