Who is pound for pound the best fighter in the world today?

For many, the answer has long been Roy Jones, Jr. At 160, 168 and 175 pounds, he has been unstoppable. His speed and power have devastated opponents while his unorthodox style has wowed boxing pundits. But recently, Jones has become complacent. After breaking Virgil Hill in half, he fought lackadaisical and often boring fights with Lou Del Valle and Otis Grant. Tonight, in his hometown of Pensacola, Jones took on a fighter who offered up an even slimmer prospect for an interesting bout.

Richard Frazier, a full-time New York City police officer, was the man assigned to the job. That he couldn't complete the task was hardly a surprise. Having turned pro at 32 years of age, Frazier had never won a bout of consequence. Commentator Gil Clancy even remarked on the air that "Frazier has no offense at all....I don't think he could even hurt me."

Clancy hit the nail right on the head. After starting the fight with a couple of flicking jabs, Frazier barely threw a punch as Roy Jones cautiously stalked him. While Jones fired an occasional quick lead right, Frazier ran as much the 16'9" ring would allow. You can run, but you can't hide.

Frazier survived the first round only because Roy let him. Jones, never one to take a risk in the ring, could have ended it at any moment, but opted to go light on his opponent to give the hometown crowd some rounds. He didn't go light enough. Towards the end of the second round, a routine left hook buckled Frazier to a squatting position while a right hand tap sent him down. Dazed, he got to one knee by seven, didn't begin to raise himself up until the count of nine, and appeared to be on rubber legs as the referee reached 10 and called off the fight.

Everyone wins. Jones (39-1/33) makes a cool $3.5 million for 6 easy minutes of ring time, Frazier (18-4-1/7) takes home $300,000 (minus Don King's share) and leaves on his feet, and the fans were spared eight or more rounds of Jones carrying Frazier through half a fight while barely fighting.

After the fight, Roy Jones made repeated reference to his retirement. He told the live audience that although he "has a few fights left, it's been a great career." Jones has made no secret of his desire to retire from the sport wealthy and unharmed, a promise he now seems content on following through with. But before any further details could be gathered by Larry Merchant, a seemingly inebriated Irish Steve Collins stumbled into Jones' interview mumbling "I'm here, Roy".

Whether we "strip" him of the pound for pound title for fighting poor opposition, or whether he retires in 1999 as he says he will, Roy Jones will soon vacate the top spot on the P4P list. And when he does, Sugar Shane Mosley will be right there to take his place.

Fighting for the second time on a Jones undercard, Shane Mosley absolutely demolished lightweight contender Golden Johnson over the course of 7 brutal but balletic rounds. Johnson began the fight poised, ready, and firing a quick jab. Mosley would have none of it. Triple jabbing back, Mosley unleashed fluid combinations from multiple angles and tamed Johnson's aspirations.

In the second round, Mosley continued a high output while mixing in his trademark body attack. As Johnson would block Mosley's jab with his gloves, Shane would reach back and fire a long right hand to Golden's ribs. Each time he did, the punch would crack through the arena with a deadening sound.

Unwilling to take that punch, Johnson moved the fight to the inside in the third, but it only got worse. Showcasing wonderful infighting skills, Shane Mosley worked over Johnson's midsection with short hooks to his sides. By the end of round, Johnson was so weakened that Mosley was able to drop him with a wide left hook to the body......twice. After dropping the challenger to one knee with the downstairs shot, Mosley waited until the ref counted to 8 before coming in and landing it again. Johnson beat the second count after the bell had sounded, and looked sapped.

Mosley only raised the ante. Continuing his high output, Mosley dominated Johnson from pillar to post. He switched to southpaw with wonderful effect, threw double uppercuts, and used wonderful footwork in the cramped ring. After five rounds of furious punishment, Mosley looked to be tiring. It was an opportunity for Johnson to turn the momentum.

Opportunity missed. In the sixth round, as Mosley lowered his output to conserve energy, Johnson was unable to land a single punch on the champion. Slipping Johnson's weakened punches with ease, Mosley made Johnson miss 30 times. Things got even worse for Johnson at the end of the 6th, as Mosley once again began bouncing on his toes, evidence of his second wind coming.

In the seventh, Mosley used that second wind to open up on Johnson, who wearily backed up to the ropes as Mosley came on. A right hand caught Johnson flush and forced him to cover up. Mosley continued firing, and several more shots blew threw Johnson's defense. A right hand on the side of the head sent Johnson sprawling. Looking hurt, Golden again beat the count.

Mosley was intent on finishing, and he rushed in, fists flying. As he pummeled Johnson some more, a counter right backed up Mosley temporarily. And, like so many times before, hitting Mosley only seemed to provoke him. Mosley's face showed controlled fury as his power punches picked up even more steam. After a few more shots bounced off of Johnson, Mosley returned to the body. Johnson caught a crunching left hook in the same spot that had twice dropped him, and fell to one knee again. The referee counted to 9....and to 10, all while Johnson stayed one knee. Sapped of any desire to continue, and convinced that getting up with only lead to further hurt, Johnson stayed down for the full 10, and improved Mosley's record to a brilliant 31-0/29.

Good enough to be the pound for pound champion? No question. Mosley showed a complete game: handspeed, power, footwork, defense, adjustability, stamina, flair. And unlike Roy Jones and Oscar DelaHoya, he seems genuinely eager to face his peers. After the fight, Shane accepted Ivan Robinson's post-Gatti call out and also mentioned unifying the lightweight crown vs. Bazan. With tonight's performance, and the five wins by kayo he posted in 1998, Mosley would be a heavy favorite not only to defeat these men, but to challenge for the title of Pound for Pound best.

[Side note: Both Roy Jones and Shane Mosley have official web sites. Go to Boxing Links to check them out.]

.....Chris Bushnell

© 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.

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