End is near, but Jones will fight on

Martin Rogers
Yahoo! Sports

NEW YORK – As the blood poured out of the ugly wound on Roy Jones Jr.'s left eyelid and seeped into his eye, the 39-year-old former champion must have felt like he was looking through a claret windshield.

Time and again, Joe Calzaghe's accurate fists honed in on their target, leaving Jones resembling a tired old man desperately missing his full vision.

And sadly, after the fifth defeat of his Hall of Fame career, Jones may have regained his clarity of sight but is still lacking in clarity of thought.

After Calzaghe's comprehensive victory at Madison Square Garden, in which Jones was awarded only the first round on all three judges' scorecards, the Floridian should take the smart option and hang up his gloves.

It is time to go, a point rammed home by the events of Saturday night.

At his peak, during the mid- to late '90s, Jones was one of the finest boxers the sport has ever seen, with his dominance complete to the point of boredom.

At that time the prospect of defeat was so unlikely as to be laughable. Yet now, some of those superhuman earlier memories are being replaced with unfortunate, and very mortal new ones.

Crucially, it was exactly five years to the day of this fight that Jones recorded his last meaningful victory, a majority decision against Antonio Tarver.

After that, three straight defeats followed, twice to Tarver and once to Glen Johnson, before a revival of sort against a bunch of no-names and an over-the-hill Felix Trinidad.

But Calzaghe, the outstanding Welshman, recovered emphatically from a first-round knockdown to dissect Jones technically and physically and left him in need of hospital treatment.

Even then, Jones's manager, McGee Wright, told Yahoo! Sports that retirement is highly unlikely.

"I think he will still continue," said Wright. "He still has the hunger and he has fought one of the best guys in the world and knocked him down.

"Is he the fighter that he was 10 years ago? No, but he is still better than a lot of guys."

Wright's comments have some truth, but little merit. Jones cannot cope any longer with the leading lights of boxing and there is nothing to be served by competing with mediocre opposition.

He does not need the money, having accumulated enough during his glory days and from this fight, to enjoy his retirement.

The potential fights Wright mentioned – rematches against Tarver, Johnson and Bernard Hopkins – would hold little appeal for the television company paymasters.

Hopkins would have been a legitimate option if Jones had beaten Calzaghe, but not now, while a clash with Tarver or Johnson would resemble little more than an old-timers roadshow.

Jones can still pack a punch, rattling Calzaghe in Round 1 – although the knockdown came when Jones' forearm connected with his opponent's face.

After five entertaining rounds, Jones ran out of steam, and by the end he was simply surviving.

In the closing rounds it appeared as if members of Jones's family at ringside were urging

him to quit rather than subject himself to further punishment.

"It was a pretty bad cut," Calzaghe said. "But Roy deserved the right to carry on and to try to stay in the fight.

"He has been a great champion and he has shown he could put me down if he caught me."

Calzaghe still has options, but there is a strong chance he will walk away with his record unblemished after 46 fights.

Jones' '0' went long ago, but his legacy in the sport still means something. He needs to have the conviction and sense to bring things to a natural end, instead of chasing past glories that will never return.

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