A boxer doesn’t necessarily lose his skills with age. Some of them lose it long before that and realize it’s time to get out of the sport. There are the odd few that can continue fighting at an elite level well into their 40s. In this era, the top two that come to mind are George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins, both who won world titles in their mid-40s.
Others have tried to emulate the success of these two, such as Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. and have met with varying degrees of success. Ironically, when 46-year-old Hopkins became the oldest boxer in history to win a world title on May 21st by beating Jean Pascal, 42-year-old Roy Jones Jr. was getting knocked out half way across the world in Moscow.
While Jones used to be one of the world’s best boxers, he just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Whereas Hopkins was never spectacular in the first pace, but just keeps on going and going. But Jones didn’t lose it overnight when he got knocked out with a few seconds to go in his fight with Dennis Lebedev of Russia .
Jones’ (54-8, 40 Kos) downfall can be traced all the way back to 2004 when Antonio Tarver knocked him out in the second round. He was brutally knocked out again just four months later by Glen Johnson and then waited a year before fighting again, losing a unanimous decision to Tarver. This was probably the most telling sign he should retire as Jones, a superior boxer, seemed to be gun shy and was outboxed by an opponent he would have easily beaten in his prime.
Jones then reeled off three straight decision victories decent opponents before losing on points to awkward Joe Calzaghe. But he was knocked out in just 122 seconds when he travelled to Australia to take on Danny Green in 2009. In fact, Jones has been knocked out in four of his eight losses and has lost three fights in a row twice. On top of that, he’s lost seven of his last 12 fights.
Things would be different if he was losing fights by close decisions, but he’s been getting knocked out at an alarming rate. He can’t be fighting for the love of the sport anymore because getting knocked unconscious can’t be any fun, no matter how sadistic you may be.
It’s believed Jones went all the way to Russia to fight Lebedev for $500,000, which is money he desperately needs to pay the American tax man. If this is so, it shows how important financial advisers are to athletes, especially boxers. Jones has made well over $100 million during his career, but is now putting his life on the line to settle issues with the IRS.
Only Jones knows what happened to all of his money, but it’s known that he has financially helped out his friend Gerald McClellan, who suffered permanent brain damage in a fight back in 1995. Being around McClellan, Jones knows all too well what can happen to a fighter who suffers a permanent injury. But after he came to from the Lebedev beating he said he still might carry on boxing.
Jones is caught between a rock and a hard place. He has other interests, such as music and basketball, but realistically he knows it’s a good bet that he can earn big paydays by stepping into the ring. As long as fighters like Jones, who are just shells of their former selves, keep on fighting, there’s a good chance retirement will no longer be an option to them unfortunately.