One Last Hurrah For Roy And Bernard?

By Chris Murray
Updated: January 21, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Before Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad heard the bell for round one of their fight at Madison Square last Saturday night, I was filled with the same sense of dred and gloom that I felt back in 1981 when an aging Muhammad Ali took the ring to fight then-heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.

It was the same feeling I had after Terry Norris beat up on an over-the-hill Sugar Ray Leonard at the Garden in the early nineties.

I was thinking, ‘oh here we go another aging great champion is about to suffer humiliation in the ring. Both Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson had knocked Jones into next week in two straight fights.

In both of those of fights Jones looked like an old man whose skills were a distant memory. It certainly looked that way for the first three rounds when Trinidad was beating Jones to the punch.

But the last nine rounds of the fight, it was as if Jones found the fountain of youth and transformed into the 19-year-old kid I remembered from the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Jones bedazzled the younger (and vastly overrated) Trinidad with his hand speed, knocking him down twice (seventh and 10th rounds).

This was the Roy Jones who befuddled James “Lights Out” Toney and beat Philly favorite Bernard Hopkins, another guy who has seemingly turned back the hands of time.

It was refreshing to see Jones do his thing for at least one more time. It was one last moment for the man. To quote Jones, “Y’all must have forgot.”

I don’t know how many fights Jones has left him in him. There was talk he would face the winner of Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe if they ever sign to fight. But for now to hell with Calzaghe, the fight I really want to see is Jones versus Hopkins.

I think the boxing public, especially Philly fight fans, would love to see this fight.

When Hopkins was in his prime, Jones was the fighter that he could not beat even with all the “Executioner’s” skill and ring saavy. For the 42-year-old Hopkins, it would be a chance to erase the one question mark in his career.

Hopkins likes to think of himself as the successor to legendary light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore, who fought well into his 40s. Hopkins maybe in his 40s, but he had the body of a much younger man and looked good in his dismantling of Antonio Tarver and his victory of Ronald “Winky” Wright.

The way Jones looked Saturday night against Trinidad, I think it would be a heck of a fight. You have two champions who once dominated their divisions and two guys who are Hall-of-Famers in one last opportunity to turn back the clock and give boxing fans the kind of show we used to see back in the day.

What will make this fight interesting is that these guys are really not as fast as they used to me and that means they will both come out fighting and I think Hopkins will throw his normally defensive posture out the window to master the man who once beat him.

I think it would be like Sugar Ray Leonard-Tommy Hearns II back in 1989. That was the greatest draw I’ve ever saw. Both Hearns and Leonard, who well past their primes at that point, hit each other with some power shots.

Hearns probably got the better of it because he knocked Leonard down twice — though Leonard came close to making the referee come in to stop the fight.

Instead of having Hopkins fight Calzaghe or Jones fight Cazalghe, I think Hopkins-Jones should be an elimination fight for Calzaghe. The loser of Jones-Hopkins would hang the gloves up for good and help the other prepare for Calzaghe.

HBO could promote the fight as “Legends Never Die.” Shucks, I should go into fight promotion — forget Don King, Bob Arum or Golden Boy.

At some point, Father Time will creep up on both of these guys, but for one last night I would like to see these guys be forever young.