Roy Jones Jr. doesn’t care what you think.
“They can say what they want to say,” the 48-year-old fighter told NY Fights. “The whole reason I got to where I was in boxing was because I didn’t give a damn thing about what nobody thought about me. Even right now, the reason I continue to move forward is because I don’t give a damn what they think about me.”
Jones’ career is one of the most storied in boxing history. Over the course of a 28-year prizefighting career, he’s won six world titles in four different weight classes. Moreover, Jones is the only fighter in history to have started at junior middleweight and go on to win a world heavyweight title. Jones is considered by historians one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters to ever live.
According to Jones, all he’s doing now is continuing the journey he started almost three decades ago.
“I still beat up people. I still rap about beating up people. I still tell people about beating up people. So it sounds like I still do it all.”
While his most formidable days are clearly behind him, Jones said he doesn’t plan on hanging up the gloves anytime soon. Despite an early career belief that he’d compete for as little time as possible, Jones said he realized as he grew older the love he felt for boxing was unlike anything he felt for his other vocations.
“I love it because I know one day I won’t be able to do this.”
Jones isn’t nearly the fighter he was once upon a time. At age 34, Jones’ record was a pristine 49-1. His one loss—the result of a disqualification in a fight he was winning—was avenged by a dramatic Round 1 knockout. Essentially, he was undefeated and arguably unchallenged in 50 fights.
After defeating John Ruiz by unanimous decision for the WBA heavyweight title in 2003, Jones returned to light heavyweight to face Antonio Tarver. Whether it was the weight drain, age or both, Jones appeared sluggish and mortal for the first time. That night, he snuck away from the ring with a majority decision victory.
It’s safe to say that had Jones decided to retire after defeating Tarver, the long held conviction of pundits back then who believed Jones was invincible would still be in tact today.
Regardless, whoever has come to the ring since then has not been the fighter people like to remember. The one who plodded to a disputable win over Tarver in the first fight wasn’t really Jones anymore but it was at least a worthwhile impersonation. The one who was knocked out by Tarver in Round 2 of the rematch the following year was simply an imposter. And the one who has come to the ring ever since has been the same thing and worse.
Perhaps Jones’ dedication to staying the course today is a product of how fleeting success can be. The fighter who was once on top of the boxing world said the brevity of life is one of its most surprising elements.
“It all happens so fast that you almost don’t even realize it. So the minute they tell you you’re here, you try to enjoy the moments because tomorrow it could be gone. And you gotta know, as quick as you wished for it is as quick as it can be gone. One day you were wishing for it. The next day it was there. And they next day it’s gone.”
His premier days as a fighter long gone, Jones keeps fighting anyway. No longer competing for legitimate world title belts or even against upper echelon contenders, Jones said he plans to continue fighting as long as his body will allow.
And while he said he understands how some longtime fans might feel about the situation, he reminded me he didn’t become the BWAA’s Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s by listening to what other people thought. Jones does what he wants to do and he’s not liable to be frustrated by critics.
“It’s not frustrating because opinions are like butt cheeks: everybody has two,” said Jones about his naysayers. “I don’t really mind them.”
As for Jones today, almost fifteen years beyond his best years as a fighter, he maintains he’s as happy as ever. If life is a sponge full of experiences, Jones plans on squeezing every bit of them out while he still possesses the power to do so—even if he isn’t as strong as he used to be.
“I better get every inch out of it that I can because one day it will be over and my old bones aren’t going to listen to me. I’m not going to be able to duck and dodge and knock people out forever.”
The sands of his hourglass are trickling, but he’s not ready to turn things over quite yet.
“Age keeps trying to run me down but it ain’t caught me yet.”