Where was this Roy Jones 10 years ago?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Don't you wish that Roy Jones Jr. had the attitude he's displaying now in, oh, 1997, when he still had the kind of physical gifts that prompted some to call him the most talented boxer in history?

If you missed it, not only did Jones promise to inflict all sorts of mayhem upon Felix Trinidad when they meet on Jan. 19 on an HBO Pay-Per-View card at Madison Square Garden in New York, but he also said:

  • He’d travel to the U.K. to fight unbeaten super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe.

  • He'd face the best light heavyweights (except for Bernard Hopkins) on their home turf.

  • He'd go to Tampa, Fla., to face Antonio Tarver and to Miami, to take on Glen Johnson, each of whom has already knocked him out on neutral turf.

  • He'd even be willing, he said, to take on someone like Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield.

It all sounded good, except didn't you wonder why he didn't call out the nearly 66-year-old Muhammad Ali, 59-year-old George Foreman and 53-year-old Marvin Hagler while he was at it?

It was typical Jones, as he takes another low-risk, big-money fight which he asks the public to pay outrageous prices to see. It's $50 on pay-per-view, which is a bargain compared to the $15,000 — yes, $15,000 — it will set you back for a front-row seat.

Trinidad has about as much chance to beat Jones as the Clippers do of winning the NBA championship.

The last time we saw Trinidad, he was jabbed silly by Winky Wright, who used just his right hand to win every round of their May 2005 bout in Las Vegas.

That loss sent Trinidad into a second retirement, where he happily stayed until he was lured out by promoter Don King.

King is the greatest promoter in boxing history, but his cupboard has been barren over the last several years as he's aged and lost the frenetic energy that made him a modern marvel.

He desperately needed Trinidad, a tried-and-true ticket seller over the years, because he had no one else with whom he could make a big fight.

King talked Charles and James Dolan out of an enormous site fee to put the bout in Madison Square Garden.

It might have been a big deal in 1999 when, a day after defeating Oscar De La Hoya in a battle of unbeaten welterweight champions, Trinidad shocked the world by saying he'd rather face Jones, the then-reigning light heavyweight champion, than give De La Hoya a rematch on anything less than even financial terms.

Trinidad wasn't good enough to beat Jones on his best day and he's surely not close to good enough to beat him now, coming off of a 2-1/2 year retirement.

Jones is hardly at his peak, either, but he's been somewhat active and is still too big, too strong and too fast for Trinidad.

Trinidad doesn't now — nor did he ever — have the kind of style that would ever make someone like Jones worry.

Trinidad's strength as a welterweight, super welterweight and then middleweight was the power in his hands.

He was a huge puncher at 147 and at 154 and a good, though hardly overwhelming puncher at 160.

But at 170 pounds and after a 2-1/2 year layoff, he won't be able to hurt Jones unless he sneaks a weapon into the ring with him.

That's exactly the kind of fight that Jones has favored over the years. He hasn't sought out the biggest and the best, even though for most of his career he was the most gifted fighter alive.

He refused to travel to Europe to meet Dariusz Michalczewski, who built up a great following in Germany while holding the WBO light heavyweight title from 1994 until 2003.

Jones would have beaten Michalczewski easily, but he would never travel to Europe to make the fight happen so he could prove it.

Nor would he consider a trip to the U.K., to meet Calzaghe, despite the fact a Jones-Calzaghe bout in 2001 or 2002 could have drawn a crowd in excess of 50,000 in Cardiff, Wales.

But now that he's a part-time boxer with no logical super bout on the horizon, Jones suddenly begins to talk tough and say he'll fight anyone anywhere at any time. Yeah, thanks for that, Roy.

I wanted to hear that from you when Hopkins and James Toney were begging for — and deserving of — a rematch. I wanted to hear that when you could have faced Michalczewski instead of Ricky Frazier, a New York City police officer.

Despite King's efforts to convince an unknowing public otherwise, this fight will be little more than a one-sided exhibition.

On the one hand, you have a guy who hasn't fought since losing to Wright on May 14, 2005, and who hasn't won a round since Oct. 2, 2004. And remember, Trinidad is a guy who has never weighed more than 160 pounds for any of his 44 fights.

On the other hand is a guy who has fought once in each of the last three years, who hasn't had a win of note in more than four years, since scoring a controversial decision over Tarver on Nov. 8, 2003, and who once won a piece of the heavyweight title.

Jones is bigger, stronger and faster and will, even at his diminished skill level, manhandle Trinidad. If Jones wants to take a risk, he'll live up to his promise and will knock Trinidad out in the first half of the fight.

Or, if as seems more likely, he wants to play it cautiously, he'll embarrass Trinidad with his speed and quickness and win a lopsided and largely uninspiring decision. Jones called himself a warrior and Superman as he talked of the doom he's going to inflict upon Trinidad.

And I couldn't help but be wistful, wishing he'd have thought that way a decade or so ago, when there were so many great fights to be made that he simply avoided.

Roy Jones Jr. cheated the fans then and he's going to do it again on Jan. 19.

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