On Saturday night, two of the all-time great fighters in boxing history will step into the ring to face off in an exhibition fight when Roy Jones Jr. does battle with Mike Tyson. Few athletes in history have reached the heights of fame — and infamy — of Tyson. Despite Jones never reaching Tyson’s level of notoriety, it’s almost without question that Jones is the better fighter in a historic context.
Jones is the only fighter ever to start his career at junior middleweight and go on to win a heavyweight world championship. He won world titles along the way at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight and was ultimately recognized by Ring Magazine as Fighter of the Decade for the 1990s.
Ahead of Jones’ clash with Tyson at Staples Center in Los Angeles, let’s take a look back at five of the most memorable fights of his storied career.
First world title win over Hopkins
On the undercard of the heavyweight title fight between Riddick Bowe and Jesse Ferguson on May 22, 1993, Jones entered the ring opposite fellow future all-time great Bernard Hopkins. The fight was for the IBF middleweight championship that had been vacated by James Toney. Jones and Hopkins wouldn’t produce a thriller in the bout, but Jones was sharp throughout the fight, piling up early rounds before Hopkins was able to establish a rhythm and start taking some rounds on the scorecards.
Ultimately, Jones outlanded Hopkins 206 to 153 and also landed at a higher percentage. Jones would take all three official scorecards 116-112, though both Sports Illustrated (117-111) and HBO unofficial scorer Herold Lederman (118-110) saw the fight as an even wider win for Jones, as he improved his career mark to 22-0. The two would go on to rematch in 2010 with Hopkins winning a wide decision over Jones, whose style was much less suited to late-career success than the rugged Hopkins.
Upset against James Toney
As previously mentioned, Toney held the IBF middleweight title before moving up to super middleweight and capturing the IBF title at 168 pounds. Toney entered the Nov. 18, 1994 fight with Jones with an undefeated 44-0-2 record and the No. 2 spot in the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings. Jones was 26-0 and ranked No. 3 pound-for-pound.
Toney was the favorite coming into the fight, but Jones dominated the action from the jump, in part because Toney was not in the best shape of his career. The fight produced one of the most iconic moments of his career, with Jones posing like one of his fighting roosters, Toney trying to mimic him and Jones landing a leaping hook that sent Toney stumbling back into the corner for a knockdown. In the end, Jones won his second world title by taking the unanimous decision by scores of 119-108, 118-109, and 117-110.
Playing two pro sports in one day
Make no mistake about it, Eric Lucas had no business stepping in the ring with Jones when he challenged for Jones’