Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Frank Scoblete
A Gamble Roy Jones, Jr. Must Take27 March 2000
Remember that old song lyric: "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage"? Well, two other things also go together like a horse and carriage; in fact, they go together better than a horse and carriage, or love and marriage for that matter -- and that's boxing and casinos.
It would not be a stretch to say that casinos have actually saved the sport of boxing on the national level, giving exposure to fighters on a grand scale. It would also not be a stretch to say that when big fights are sponsored by casinos, the mightiest of the high rollers hit the tables -- and the tables usually hit them right back.
Casino gamblers, especially male casino gamblers, love to watch boxing and when the fights are over, they love to have a fight of their own -- against Lady Luck. The fact that Lady Luck has yet to be defeated does not stop the fight fan from challenging her. Not at all, it is an added inducement to the fray.
Well, here is one fray I'd like to see made. I want Roy Jones, Jr. -- the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world -- to challenge Lennox Lewis, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Now, the reason most fight aficionados will give for Roy Jones not making such a fight has to do with the respective sizes of the fighters' physiques. Roy Jones is 5'11" on a good day and weighs in at a walking-around weight of about 185 pounds. Lewis, on the other hand, is a massive 6'5" and he tips the scales at 240 or more. It would be David vs. Goliath without David having the benefit of a rock and only able to bring his hands and heart to the fray.
But what hands they are! Jones is a whirling dervish with lightning fast feet and fists who packs a powerful punch and has a highly unconventional style. Of course, Jones has been knocking out middleweights and light heavyweights -- he has not knocked out a heavyweight (as of yet). No matter.
The reason that Jones must fight Lewis is very simple: Jones will be quickly forgotten -- and I mean quickly -- if he continues to waltz through his career without ever having been in a fight for his life. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Louis, Roberto Duran, and even Jones' contemporaries such as Oscar De La Hoya and Evander Holyfield, have all been in fights for their lives. In such fights, the skill and will of the fighter are sorely tested and the great fighters are transformed into legends. Legendary fighters are remembered because of their fights.
If Joe Louis didn't have Max Schmeling, his legacy would not be as bright. If Sugar Ray Robinson had just knocked out a series of good opponents for 20 years and had never warred with Jake La Motta and a couple of dozen other greats, no one would see him today as the pound-for-pound greatest fighter of all time.
Great fights make great fighters.
Jones has never had a great fight. The reason is not that he has ducked good opponents. He has fought the best of the divisions he's been in (middleweight, super-middleweight, and light heavyweight), but none of his opponents, not one, could really challenge him. His fights are like flashbulbs -- spectacular, blinding, and soon forgotten. Can anyone name a great Roy Jones fight? Of course not. There haven't been any. Now, quickly, rattle off a great Muhammad Ali fight. Easy as one (Frazier - three times), two (Foreman) and three (Norton, Liston, Spinks).
Jones is at his peek right now. In a few years, he'll have a rough fight all right but it won't be against a great fighter. It will be against time and whoever happens to be in the ring with him at the time. Time will start to diminish him and, if Jones stays true to his character, he will quit before we can see him struggle to survive.
If so, we'll never know how good he really was. What's worse, we won't even care. When discussions of great fighters come up, if someone happens to mention his name with Sugar Ray Robinson or Sugar Ray Leonard, someone else will scornfully say: "Yeah, but who did Jones fight?" The fact that he actually fought, and destroyed, the best of his weight classes will not count. Since he was never in a great fight, he can't be a great fighter. That's the perception and that's the reality as well.
In Lennox Lewis, Jones will face the ultimate test. He'll be a huge underdog against a huge champion. People will wonder if Jones can last a single round against such a monster. Jones will not have to manufacture excitement as he does now by entering the ring to his own rap songs or by fighting fancy. He could walk into the ring in a drab bathrobe and hearts will be throbbing with fear and/or anticipation.
Could he best Lewis? I believe he can. Rocky Marciano was only 5'10" and weighed about 180 and he is reckoned as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Do you think the Rock would have thought of Lewis as too big for him to fight? Would Jack Dempsey, arguably not quite 6' tall, who fought and demolished the 6'8" giant Jess Willard, have backed down from Lewis because he was too big?
Jones can beat Lewis if he fights the fight of his life. If he uses all his speed, all his power, all his footwork, all his intelligence, he has an outside chance. However, if his heart, his courage, his tenacity equal his talent, Jones has a damn good shot to defeat Lewis. Recall that for years critics thought the young Cassius Clay would ultimately come up short in the guts department if and when he were ever in a war. Well, the old Ali proved those critics wrong. If Jones has the toughness of heart to go with his talent, he can indeed defeat the giant Lewis.
Part of boxing, like part of gambling, is a mind war. What will the cautious, gentlemanly Lewis make of this little upstart demanding a fight with the reigning heavyweight king? Will Lewis think: "I'll swat this little fly," and come in to the fight overconfident? Or will Lewis think: "Jones is not just a great fighter, he's crazy," and come in overly cautious? Either way, the mental edge goes to Jones, even though the physical edge belongs to Lewis.
Lewis is the great fight Jones needs to put him on the list of the greatest pound-for-pound champs of all time. And here's something to consider: Sugar Ray Robinson, a former welterweight and middleweight champion, was angling to get a fight with the great Joe Louis when the 110 degree heat caused him to collapse in his fight with the light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. Do you think that had Robinson won that fight and had Louis been interested, that Sugar Ray would have said that Joe Louis was too big? Hell, no.
Roy Jones' greatness awaits him in the formidable presence of Lennox Lewis. And the fact that Lennox Lewis and Lady Luck share the same initials should cause him no alarm. While Lady Luck can't be bested by puny mortals, Lennox Lewis certainly can be.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of Frank Scoblete