I don’t wish to demean Roy Jones Jnr, one of the finest fighters of his, or any, generation, but the publicity shots circulated today showing the once pound for pound king of the sport dressed as Captain Hook, the infamous pirate from the Peter Pan stories made me laugh out loud. I have to wonder whether the Light-Heavyweight great had a moment of self-awareness either before, during or after the shots were taken. Here is a man who whipped McCallum, Hill, Hopkins, Toney and more – who was arguably the purest athlete the sport has seen reduced to wigs, props and gimmicks, surely he caught a glance of his reflection and posed the question to himself; “what the f*** am I doing?”.
The fact Roy Jones is reduced to fighting the likes of Omar Sheika and Jeff Lacy, two washed up fighters who were B level at their best, is sad enough. That a 40 year old version of a once untouchable champion is continuing to fight when all his challenges should be long fulfilled, his coffers swelled and his natural gifts worn out is equally depressing. Calzaghe may well have a weaker resume, despite his belated victory over Jones. He will always have his detractors too but he left with dignity and the mystique of an unbeaten record in tact, the limited credibility and kudos he’d established untainted and unsoiled by the age-diluted version of himself fighting beyond his prime.
It isn’t for me to stop Jones fighting, nor do I believe anyone should if he’s fit and able to do so. But if the reflection he caught in the mirror of himself dressed as a pantomime villain isn’t enough encouragement to know the show is over, if that didn’t prick his inflated pride sufficiently, then I can only presume Jones could well end up like his contemporary Evander Holyfield – fighting on in to his dotage for so long, that his prime becomes as mythical a subject as the proposition he tries to sell that he can reclaim his former glory.
A sad spectacle. And if his own reflection wasn’t enough I doubt the explicit irony that Captain’s Hook’s life-long adversary was the boy who wouldn’t grow up, Peter Pan, is likely to resonate much either.