This is a tale of a bunch of Roys.
There's Big Roy and Little Roy and Old Roy and New Roy.
Former super middleweight champion and 2000 U.S. Olympian Jeff Lacy will fight Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday in a light heavyweight pay-per-view bout at the Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss.
If he gets the old Roy, he's in for a long night. If he gets the new Roy, things may get interesting. The key to deciphering the puzzle is whether Little Roy is whistling past the graveyard when he says he believes that Big Roy has the knowledge to rediscover Old Roy.
The story is essentially this:
Little Roy was once the greatest boxer of them all. He was taught by Big Roy, but when Little Roy fought his most significant fights and was boxing's biggest star, Big Roy was nowhere to be found, pushed aside in a family feud.
Little Roy is now 40 and, many suspect, a mere shell of the boxer he once was. He doesn't buy that, though, and wants to get back to being Old Roy; but to get there, he admits he needs Big Roy.
Big Roy is the wise old mind who recognized the other-worldly talents in his son and taught him a unique style that Little Roy employed to become one of the sport's icons. Old Roy was Jones at his best, with his hands at his side and his chin jutted toward his opponent, throwing punches from the strangest angles and ducking, spinning and gliding away from trouble.
But in his one-sided loss to Joe Calzaghe in New York last November, it was New Roy in the ring. His hands were high, his chin tucked low. He stalked forward relentlessly and saw himself as a puncher.
Big Roy didn't work with Little Roy for that fight, but when he heard the reports of how his son was preparing, he knew there was trouble brewing.
"I try not to think about it too much because … if Roy had prepared right, there's no way Joe could have beaten him," Big Roy said. "I don't think Joe actually beat him. It's the fact that [Roy] being out of his element, not doing the things that actually made him Roy – the things that he's renowned for and that the world knows him for [which caused him to lose]. Sometimes, it takes something like that [loss] to bring you back around."
Little Roy clearly agreed. He put his differences with his father aside and brought him, along with Alton Merkerson, into his training camp to help him prepare for a March 21 fight with Omar Sheika.
Sheika was no match, considering how long-faded he was, but the Old Roy was back. Little Roy took Big Roy's advice and went back to the showboating, arrogant Old Roy in the ring, the guy who believed so completely in his skills and his physical gifts that he'd beg a foe to try to hit him.
Little Roy, fighting as Old Roy, won by fifth-round technical knockout. And Little Roy knows that if Lacy is to win on Saturday, he'll do so by overpowering him. So Little Roy plans to eschew New Roy again and go back to his cocky alter ego, Old Roy, when he steps into the ring to meet Lacy.
That Roy hasn't been around much recently, as Little Roy has stuck pretty much with the New Roy style in most of his bouts other than Sheika. No one can teach the Old Roy style, Little Roy said, except Big Roy. So he didn't try it much.
When he became desperate enough, though, Little Roy knew what he had to do. He picked up the phone and got Big Roy back. There was a difference against Sheika, though Sheika was not much of a test. But Lacy, a hard-hitter with a lethal left hook, will be.
So Little Roy opted to embrace his roots and bring back Big Roy to remind him of how it is done. The answer dawned on him not long after his loss to Calzaghe, in which he scored a first-round knockdown but spent much of the rest of the night getting pummeled.
"I have been asked if there was one thing that I wish I had that would have helped me win that fight," Little Roy said. "The problem with that fight was that I didn't have enough rooted knowledge in my corner to help me win the fight that night. Not saying that Coach Merk wasn't enough, but Coach Merk doesn't really understand the way I was taught. I was taught totally different than everybody else. He was doing all he could, but I need somebody else that knew how I could beat Calzaghe – and that person would have been with me from Day One.
"My Dad was with me from Day One and is a guy that knew what I needed to do to beat Calzaghe. I didn't have the knowledge of my skills in my corner that I needed to get through that fight. Then I got the cut and I didn't know I was going to have to go through something like that. I needed [Big Roy] to get me through that."
What Big Roy does for him is what Little Roy describes in his unique colloquial style.
"What I really did to go back to being the old Roy Jones is the [expletive]," Little Roy said. "Old Roy used to [expletive] in the boxing ring. It was always about [expletive] and I had a great time [expletive]. What I did when I [expletive] was to play around and when I [expletive], I beat you. That's what I had to do in my training. I had to put [expletive] back into my regimen. I quit [expletive] and became a serious fighter and I'm not that kind of fighter.
"I am not an ordinary fighter, I'm a [expletive]. I do all the [expletive] that is wrong. That's what I did, and now I'm back to that and that's what I did in the gym. Look at the fight against [Glen] Kelly … and you will see. I put my hands behind my back. I was [expletive] and I knocked him out. No one else can do that! That's what I am blessed with, and if I can't do that I have to get out. I'm having fun again."
The essence of the Jones-Lacy fight on Saturday, then, is this:
If Big Roy can put away visions of New Roy and resurrect Old Roy, Little Roy will score a triumphant victory.
But if New Roy makes an appearance, Little Roy may be scraped off the canvas while Lacy celebrates.
Expect to see a lot more of Old Roy and a lot less, if any, of New Roy on Saturday.