|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- JULY 29:2001|
Jones Tames Another Opponent|
by Chris Bushnell
If Roy Jones is still wondering why virtually no one ranks him above Felix Trinidad or Shane Mosley on the mythical pound-for-pound list, perhaps he should watch a tape of his title defense against Julio Gonzalez... so long as he does so before he operates heavy machinery. Indeed, Jones' latest title defense was another in a long line of forgettable performances against mediocre opposition. Put Tito or Mosley in against a fighter lacking the skills to compete and you get a short, quick knockout worthy of Play of the Day honors. Feed Jones an easy tune-up and you get a long, uninspired sparring session.
To his credit, Julio Gonzalez put up more of a fight that Jones' last four opponents combined. Where Telesco, Hall and the indistinguishable duo of Harding and Harmon folded up tent and started looking to survive after only one round, Gonzalez' effort lasted nearly half a fight. For a few seconds it looked as though Jones might have to actually break a sweat to claim his 45th victory. Gonzalez began aggressively, firing his long arms towards Roy's sides and loudly finding his target. But then Jones threw a punch. The first real blow Jones attempted was a lead left hook thrown at the midpoint of the opening round. The punch sailed through Gonzalez' guard and left him on the canvas wondering what had just happened.
Gonzalez had promised to bring the fight to Jones, and he attempted to fulfill his boast by dusting himself off an attacking the 32 year-old light heavyweight champion. As Jones casually covered his head with his white Grant gloves, Gonzalez pounded Jones' sides. But just as Gonzalez' mini-rally was starting to raise a few eyebrows, Jones unleashed an uppercut-hook combination with his back still on the ropes. The two punches cracked into Gonzalez' skull just prior to the bell to end the first, giving Gonzalez plenty to think about on his stool.
When the fight continued, Gonzalez was again following Jones around the ring and forcing him to fight. Again and again the pattern continued: Gonzalez applying pressure and landing body shots, Jones weaving out of harm's way and answering with the occasional devastating counter punch. The biggest surprise of the night was the brisk pace at which the opening several rounds were fought. While Gonzalez repeatedly absorbed the brunt of the action, he appeared to be holding his own. It had been awhile since Jones had been forced to fight at someone else's pace, and Gonzalez' loud body shots and blocked upstairs blows made him appear to be doing much better than he actually was. Boxing Chronicle gave Gonzalez the second round, but only because Jones' heavier replies lacked the frequency of Gonzalez' attack.
Under pressure from Gonzalez, Jones' repertoire was limited by his nearly constant hands-up defense. Still, he was able to use his speed to great effect, bobbing out of the way of Gonzalez' biggest attempts and firing back the occasional counter. In the fourth, a round in which Gonzalez landed to Jones' body at will, Jones easily earned the 10-9 with a blistering right hand followed by a rapid triple left hook near the end of the round. Still, through four rounds, Jones had found himself in against an opponent who was not cowering in fear... yet.
The first punch of the fifth round ended, once and for all, Gonzalez' desire to press the action. The first punch of the fifth was another lead hook that sent Julio to the canvas. Pushing himself up to a sitting position by the count of three, Gonzalez looked absolutely amazed, as though he could laugh out loud at Jones' raw speed. With this knockdown, however, Gonzalez' aggression quelled... and the rest of the fight was typical Roy Jones: a boring exhibition.
Jones began moving more deliberately in the sixth, and Gonzalez was now slower to give chase. Instead of staying right on top of Jones, Gonzalez' forward movement now came in the form of advancing half-steps. Like so many opponents before him, Gonzalez had been tamed by the champion's power and now had to suffer the indignity of being played with. Jones now picked off Gonzalez at will. One shot at a time, Jones would peck at Gonzalez then circle away several steps. By the seventh, Gonzalez' slowed even further, and by the eighth, Jones had shifted into cruise control. It was as though the fighters had made an agreement: don't punch me and I won't knock you out.
The boos began in the eighth, and not even a Jones bolo punch a round later would completely quell an action-starved crowd. With Gonzalez now subdued, Jones could finally put on the pound-for-pound show that everyone was hoping for, right? Wrong. Jones simply ran out the clock right along with his opponent, sparring lightly and once again doing the bare minimum necessary for victory.
A fight that momentarily looked like a genuine contest had been reduced to a mind-numbing exhibition of speed and single punch creativity. Even the final round, which began after Gonzalez' corner begged him to make a last effort, was a bore. You would think that Jones would spend the final round trying to make a statement, or that Gonzalez would hurl himself into one more attempt at glory. But a minute into the final round, neither fighter had thrown a punch. Referee Raul Caiz had to clap his hands and remind the fighters that they were in the final round. Gonzalez, at least, tried to follow the ref's instructions. Following Jones to the ropes, he again fired some body shots. But Jones was ready, and a right hand caught Gonzalez coming in. The punch stunned Gonzalez, and dipped his knees to the canvas for the third knockdown of the night. Gonzalez beat the count easily, and tried to finish strong by fighting out the final minute with his hands flying... unfortunately his final flurry didn't produce a single landed punch. Jones merely bobbed and weaved his way around the onslaught, and popped in a few counters before the bell mercifully ended the proceedings.
Boxing Chronicle gave Gonzalez the second round, as did all three of the official judges. Charity knows no boundaries. A third judge dug up another round to give Gonzalez, making the final tallies 119-106 (twice) and 118-105.
The once-brilliant career of Roy Jones (now 45-1/36) is stalled out. For the second time in two fights, Jones has topped off a pay-per-view card with a less-than-exciting performance. The light heavyweight division is absolutely devoid of talent, and making Jones-Trinidad or Jones-Hopkins will be only slightly easier than making water turn to wine. After the fight, Jones suggested that he should receive a majority of the funds for a fight against the soon-to-be-crowned middleweight champion. Can you say "not gonna happen"? Anyone who bought this fight on pay-per-view, and after Jones-Harmon it remains to be seen if anyone did, will be hard pressed to invest time or money for another Jones fight.
The absolutely horrendous pay-per-view card was brought to life by the spirited bout between Erik Morales and Korean mandatory challenger Injin Chi. Although Chi only notched two round on the official's scorecards, this bout was a hard fought battle that was much closer than anyone in the Morales camp had hoped for. Simply put, Morales is not the same fighter he was pre-Barrera. He gets hit too much, can't box for long without being drawn into a war, and seems to have left some of his speed and power in the 122 lb. division.
Chi's head-movement and start-and-stop style gave Morales fits this night. Chi made his presence known in the opening round, when he slammed a left hook into Morales' head at center ring. Morales quickly answered with three hooks of his own, but the fight was now on. No matter where Morales moved, Chi was usually in front of him. Most of the night, this constant pressure resulted in Morales retreating to the ropes or an empty corner. The crowd roared with approval as Chi would punish Morales in these moments and the two men would be forced to let it all hang out. Despite a nine-inch reach advantage, Morales was only occasionally able to control the action with his jab. A headbutt in the sixth opened a small cut over Morales' left eye, and the resulting swelling would hamper Morales' vision for most of the bout.
While Morales banked round after round by being the heavier puncher and more active fighter, many rounds were incredibly close. Time and again Morales would get caught with heavy flush blows, and time and again he would be forced to answer with a flurry thrown in anger, or even desperation. By the late rounds, Chi's confidence had grown, and he repeatedly smiled and laughed after catching Morales with heavy clean punches.
The best fight of the evening boiled over in the eleventh round, as the brisk pace started early and built towards a crescendo of both men firing with reckless abandon for the final twenty seconds. The crowd was on it's feet at the end of this round, and again after a see-saw final round that Chi banked in his favor. It wasn't Morales-Barrera, but it was close.
Final scores of 116-11, 117-110, and 116-112 for Morales (now 41-0/31) didn't tell the whole story. Sure, Morales had won comfortably on the cards, but his management must be worried by the amount of punishment the once agile boxer absorbed. By fight's end, Morales' left eye was slammed shut, and he lost the final round as he had against Espadas and Barrera. That Chi, a fighter with good skills but little speed, was able to pound Morales time and again must encourage future Morales foes. He may still be the WBC featherweight champion, but Morales is far from the sharp boxer-puncher he once was.
Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis escaped with his title intact after his title defense against Ricardo Mayorga was ruled a no-contest in the second round because of cuts. Mayorga started fast, winging wild punches from all angles at Lewis. Mayorga's attack was sloppy and frantic, but he was able to land multiple flush shots on Lewis' chin before the stoppage. Time and again, Lewis' head was snapped back by these wildly telegraphed punches. Either Lewis was unprepared, or just stunned by what was across from him. Several times, Lewis just stood there as Mayorga reached back and fired a clean punch right at his head. While the champion was able to land some heavy counters of his own, Mayorga took the opening round after landing a dozen chin-swiveling blows.
The second round was more of the same, with Lewis getting the worse of the violent exchanges. And then it was over. Mayorga dove in head first with an overhand right, but his forehead clashed with Lewis' before the blow could land, and the butt left Lewis with two cuts, one over each eye. The cut over his right eye was a nick that trickled blood down his face, but the cut over his left eye was deep and ran the full length of Lewis' eyebrow. The doctor needed only a second to look at the gash and rule Lewis unable to continue. And it's a good thing... Lewis looked to have no answer for Mayorga's wild punches. This heinous cut will almost certainly prevent Lewis from accepting a late-2001 bout with Shane Mosley. Not that this is a bad thing. Since winning the title from James Page, Lewis has looked anything but sharp. He struggled in his first title defense, in which he was wobbled in the opening round. After eating so many punches in this short contest, boxing fans may be forced to put Lewis' win over inactive James Page in a new context.
Rounding out this sub-standard fight card were two gimme fights for Top Rank prospects Miguel Cotto and Christian Bejarano. Cotto looked great against overmatched Arturo Rodriguez. The now 6-0 Puerto Rican Olympian calmly dismantled his 11-6 opponent with body shots and crisp hooks to the head. Rodriguez was floored early in the second round, rose to beat the count, then needed only one additional punch before sitting back down and calmly watching the 10-count keep him from further harm. Bejarano's matchmaker wasn't as accomplished. Bejarano's opponent, 1-1 Lee Willis, was literally running from harm from the get-go. So blatant was Willis' retreat that he twice ran into referee Lou Moret at full speed, and was repeatedly warned for grabbing onto his opponent for no reason at all. After four rounds of giving chase, Bejarano finally caught Willis clean and put him down for the count. Bejarano improved to 4-0/4 KO.
Anyone who paid for this card had to be disappointed with the quality of match-ups. And anyone who was able to retain lucidity after Roy Jones' non-effort is to be admired. This reporter needed a three-hour nap after sitting through this card... and now needs an eight hour one after writing about it. Way to go, Roy.
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