NEW YORK - No legs. No reflexes. No chance. That was the sad state old Roy Jones, Jr. found himself in last night at Madison Square Garden. The things that had for so many years made him unbeatable had deserted him, as they do all men with time, and all that was left was a technically flawed stationary target for Joe Calzaghe to stab and punch at for 12 rounds.
Jones would have one brief moment, one flashback to a different time when he was a different fighters, when he dropped Calzaghe with a stinging right hand in the first round. Calzaghe rose clearly stunned but fought back enough to keep Jones at bay, something that would have been nigh impossible back in the day.
But by the end, the 39-year-old Jones' left eye lid was split open in a long, ugly gash, blood leaking from it from the eighth round on, and his hands were useful to him only as failing barricades erected around his face to try and fend off the slaps and punches of a man clearly his superior.
All three judges, Julie Lederman, Jerry Roth and Terry O'Connor scored the bout an identical 118-109, each awarding Jones only that opening round. It was a sad ending for a fighter once seen as the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world but this had been coming for some time.
After being knocked out by Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson and nearly stopped a second time by Tarver, Jones took a lengthy respite from the sport he once commanded but was unable to leave the stage. Instead he came back and won three times over inferior competition, the third a victory over a fat and well used up Felix Trinidad in January. That victory was a mirage but in boxing mirages sell and so he landed a shot at the undefeated RING magazine light heavyweight champion. It wasn't worth the effort for all it did was make clear how far he had receded from the fighter he once was.
"Those pitty pat punches were a little harder than I thought,'' Jones (52-5, 38) admitted. "I couldn't figure him out.''
That was obvious from the second round on. After his opening flourish the only other time Jones landed a meaningful punch it was a sweet right uppercut that caught Calzaghe flush several rounds later but it served no good end because Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KO) was by them peppering him with a quick right jab and flurries that were beating him to the face and rib cage and more and more forcing him to keep his hands high to protect his questionable chin.
Calzaghe never got a clear shot to challenge that part of Jones' fightingt anatomy but he pelted every other part of it with a hard rain of blows. None was itself overwhelming but neither is a single job in a hard rain.
It's the constant stinging in your eyes that gets you and that's what wore down Jones until his left eye lid finally burst apart in round 8. After that, all hope was lost and so was the fight. Jones was now an old man, blinking with blurry vision, out of focus and out of sorts.
"I was in my rhythm,'' Calzaghe said. "I got great reflexes. Fighting with my hands down is my style and I know for a fact it's very hard for anyone to fight my style.''
It was impossible for Roy Jones, Jr. last night because it was the night he became, in boxing years at least, Roy Jones senior.
Posted 12:00 AM | Nov 8, 2008
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