THREE PUNCH COMBO: On Thursday, Roy Jones Jr. has what he says will be his last professional fight when he faces journeyman Scott Sigmon in Jones’ hometown of Pensacola, FL. Some are skeptical that this will in fact be the last time Jones sets foot in a boxing ring, but for a variety of reasons I believe this will be his final fight. With that said, I figured it would be a good time to go down memory lane and relive my personal favorite moment from Jones’ Hall of Fame career.
Jones was a longtime pound-for-pound king in the sport and for a period of time in the 90’s was thought close to invincible. He often outclassed very competent fighters while displaying incredible hand speed and boxing skills that made it hard to imagine he could ever be conquered. And when motivated, like in the Montell Griffin rematch in August of 1997, Jones displayed one punch knockout power. To say he had it all would not have been an understatement.
Following that win against Griffin, Jones seemed to be a little disenchanted with the sport. He was frustrated some by the lack of a big fight being available as well as with his pay. When HBO put together their initial schedule for 1998, Jones did not have a slot. But that changed when the proposed April 25th bout between Pernell Whitaker and Ike Quartey fell apart. HBO not only had an opening but some dollars to suddenly spend. They wanted to bring Jones back and now had the resources to not only pay Jones what he wanted but also get the best name available in the light heavyweight division. And that was Virgil Hill.
Hill was a former two-time light heavyweight champion who managed 20 successful title defenses during the course of his two reigns. In 1996, Hill had beaten two then undefeated fighters in Lou Del Valle and Henry Maske before dropping a hard fought decision in 1997 to another undefeated fighter in Dariusz Michalczewski. With a Michalczewski fight off the table for Jones, Hill became the best available opponent and an interesting challenge for Jones who had only recently moved up to the light heavyweight division.
From the opening bell, Jones appeared to be on a mission to make a big statement. He was fighting on his front foot employing a wide stance in an unusually aggressive posture and seemed intent on going for a knockout. In the first three rounds, Jones displayed his patented blazing fast hands, often landing some dazzling shots on the head of Hill. It was fun to watch this motivated version of Jones who was putting on a show while displaying his vast array of skills.
And then it happened in round four. Jones launched a right to the body that landed with maximum leverage, crumpling Hill to the canvas. It was single most devastating body shot I can ever recall. Amazingly Hill made it to his feet but the contest was wisely waived off.
This my favorite Roy Jones Jr. moment. On this night, Jones showed everything he could be as a fighter. He also entertained (which was not always the case with Jones’ fights) and closed the show in spectacular fashion beating a future Hall of Fame opponent who was still fighting at a high level. There was no doubt in my mind that I had watched something truly special.
There has been a lot of chatter the last few weeks about what the near future will hold for 130 pound champion Vasyl Lomachenko. This past week, WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares expressed an interest in facing Lomachenko and Lomachenko immediately took to social media to show a willingness to accept the match. There has also been a rumor that Lomachenko may face the winner of the Raymundo Beltran-Paulus Moses fight on February 16th which is for the WBO lightweight crown. If Lomachenko decides to stay at 130, there has also been some talk about a unification fight with fellow 130-pound champion Miguel Berchelt.
While all of the above are solid fighters, they all have flaws that will make a fight with Lomachenko an uphill battle. It is difficult to envision any of them being remotely competitive. However, there is one fighter readily available who I believe has the style and skill set to test Lomachenko and make for a competitive fight. That fighter is Tevin Farmer.
Farmer brings a much different set of skills as well as style than any of the current crop of names being mentioned as a potential opponent. In my opinion, Farmer could give Lomachenko the test that many hoped would come from Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Farmer is a rare breed. From his southpaw stance, he is very adept at enticing his opponents to lead and then countering after making them miss with his exceptionally quick hands. It is the way he does this, though, that is special. Farmer often stands in front of his opposition and in range to be hit. But he is skilled enough defensively to often make them miss or not land cleanly all the while positioning himself at the precise angle to land effective counters. It is a style that few have ever mastered and why I think Farmer is a unique talent.
Farmer’s mastery of ring generalship and defensive wizardry can be a puzzle to unlock. He would represent a unique challenge for Lomachenko, unlike anything Lomachenko has faced thus far as a pro. In my opinion, Farmer should be the one opponent above all that fight fans should be clamoring to see in the ring with “High Tech.”
Under The Radar Fights
This is a quiet week in the sport, the calm before the schedule heats up in the coming weeks. However, there are still some interesting bouts taking place, bouts deep under the radar. One such contest features a throwback type fight between two veterans of the sport. The other features a rising prospect taking a step up in class.
On Saturday, veterans Hank Lundy (28-6-1, 14 KO’s) and DeMarcus Corley (50-28-1, 28 KO’s) will do battle in Philadelphia. This is a throwback type fight, the type we used to see frequently on the old USA Tuesday Night Fights series that aired in the 80’s and 90’s. It is a competitive, evenly matched fight between two veterans who simply know how to fight. There is a lot at stake here too as the winner will probably get a chance to make some money fighting a fringe contender or upcoming prospect in the near future.
Generally, a fight between skilled veterans with something at stake turns into a fan friendly affair. Will either Lundy or Corley be competing anytime soon for a world title? Probably not, but that does not mean they cannot still make good fights and that is what I fully expect we will get on Saturday.
2016 US Olympic bronze medalist and top prospect Nico Hernandez (3-0, 2 KO’s) also fights on Saturday in his home state of Kansas and faces his most experienced opponent to date in Jozsef Ajtai (19-9, 12 KO’s) for a minor title belt in the flyweight division. With his solid amateur background, the 22-year-old Hernandez appears to have a bright future.
Hernandez is a classic boxer-puncher who likes to work behind the left jab from his orthodox stance and throw combinations with his quick hands. Though he is not a one punch knockout puncher, Hernandez is heavy handed with his punches taking a toll on his opposition as the fight progresses. He is also a very good body puncher for a young fighter with perhaps his best overall punch being the left hook to the liver. It is a punch that Hernandez often throws with precision and in a nice compact manner, fully leveraging its impact. Aside from offense, Hernandez has shown to be a good defensive fighter in the early portion of his pro career and displays very good head movement which makes him an elusive target who is hard to hit cleanly. With the smaller weight classes growing in popularity in the United States, Hernandez is a prospect to watch and I expect we see a sizzling performance from him this week.
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