Monday, March 3, 2003 Updated: March 4, 12:55 PM ET
Saturday night at the fights
By Hunter S. Thompson Page 2 columnist
Roy Jones Jr. has been waiting in the wings of Greatness for what seems like most of my life, like some bridesmaid who never got married, despite her much-admired beauty. But no longer. No. Young Roy got hitched last Saturday night, and if it wasn't quite as classic as some of Muhammad Ali's finest moments, it was still head and shoulders above anything else that we've seen from the sleazy world of boxing since the Champ retired.
That is the good news. Roy Jones Jr. is the real thing, and I take my hat off to him. He is a first-class fighter and a proud champion&. The bad news is that Jones is so good that nobody within 40 pounds of his fighting weight even deserves to be in a boxing ring with him. He is quite literally in a class by himself.
The only fighter alive today who might have a chance to beat Jones Jr. is Lennox Lewis, who outweighs him by 44 pounds and Lewis would be nowhere near a cinch. He would have to be favored, of course. He is, after all, the reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World, and a first-class fighter in his own right. I have great respect for Lennox Lewis, and so does Roy Jones Jr. They are both legitimate champions.
But let's face it: we will not be tuning into a Jones-Lewis heavyweight fight anytime soon, maybe never. That is not the way boxing works -- not as long as Don King is around. No sir. That would be too obvious, too logical. It would short-circuit the revenue stream, bypass too many other big paydays and too many "sure thing" preview matchups on the road to the big kahuna.
Roy Jones vs. Lennox Lewis would be the biggest flat-out monster Spectacle in sport since the Thrillah in Manilla. The live gate alone would dwarf any Super Bowl, and the gross from Pay TV would buy the Empire State Building and at least two weeks of the war on Iraq. Yeah, think about that for a while, dude ... and don't forget to support your favorite patriotic Congressman next year.
One man became king on Saturday ...
Exactly! Which brings us back to the Roy Jones-Mike Tyson Super Spectacle, which looms, even now, on our horizon, like some kind of hideous dog-fight out of Arkansas. You bet! Jones-Tyson is a fight-promoter's wet dream. It has Payday written all over it, extremely big bucks for one or two fist-fulls of smart people -- and a wonderful distraction from the horrors of war for millions of others&. Remember what the Romans used to say about Bread and Circuses? Exactly! Except that what we have here is the circus without the bread.
Less is more, cheaper is better. Just don't let those evil bastards get away with it. Never! Make them pay! Remember the Alamo.
Yes. I would pay to see that one. Beauty and the Beast, David and Goliath, the most spectacular fight of all time!&. YOU CAN'T MISS THIS ONE! Whammo! Twelve unforgettable rounds of Championship boxing for only $99 a pop. Get them while they last. Ho ho.
That is the beautiful thing about sports events on Pay TV -- there are no sell-outs, no waiting in any line, no standing-room only, nobody gets turned away at the gate by fire marshals with booze on their breath. None of that crap. No sir. Ninety-nine dollars guarantees you the best seat in the house for as long as you want it!
Hot damn. That is fabulous, eh? Totally fabulous! Wow! Is this a great country, or what?
But don't get your hopes up too high, because it will almost certainly never happen, despite the vast tub of dollars it would fetch&. And I am not really sure why I say that, except that it looks, at a distance, more like a World Wrestling promotion than a truly foreseeable prizefight. there is something distinctly corrupt about it, something that whispers "Beware, all ye who enter here."
And if it ever does happen anytime soon, Roy Jones Jr. will beat the living jabbersnot out of the brute they call "Iron Mike." There is not a hint of doubt in my mind about it. Whacko! Wacko! And more Whacko, for 12 cruel rounds. It will be a pitiful thing to see. Mike Tyson is finished as a fighter. He is croaked. That last fight he "won" was a shameless tank-job and a fraud on its face. What the hell? $5,000,000 will buy a lot of cooperation in the profoundly corrupted mega-racket that is professional Boxing all over the world.
That bogus "Black Rhino" was mumbling and crying like a sissy, even before he was led into the ring. He could hardly wait to roll over and play dead. Tyson could barely keep a straight face. It was disgusting.
As for Jones Jr., that bum he carried for 12 rounds on Saturday was so utterly worthless that he should never have even been allowed in the same ring with Roy Jones. He was way, way over his head, and he knew it before the fight started. John Ruiz, I suspect, will never fight again. Never. Just look at all the truly horrible things that can happen to a good ol' boy from the proud Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the boxing business these days. Ruiz would be well-advised to go back where he came from and lay low for a while. His wounds will never entirely heal, but at least he's not blind or brain-dead.
... while the other may "fade into Bolivia."
It's a cruel world out there, boys, and not many fighters can handle it. The smarter ones would be far, far better off on one of those fabulous real-life TV shows like "Pin the Tail on the Jackass," or "How to Marry a Millionaire Whore from Hollywood." At least they might have a chance.
Boxing will probably survive as a sort of quasi-blood sport on late-night TV, but there will never again be anything great about it. The American Century has come and gone, and much of our national greatness is gone with it. The World is a different place now, according to the President, and all the rules have changed&. In the New century, we will all be slaves to Fear, which will be necessary, because of the National Security Emergency, etc. etc.
That is nonsense, of course, but we don't have time for it now. The phone is ringing, and people are yelling for pages. So yes, this column is finished, for now, and I am overcome with a craving to cool out and watch a long, clean, beautiful Muhammad Ali fight, maybe two or three in a row. We were lucky and privileged to live in the same century with him, much less to know him personally and see him fight in person. He was a true aristocrat of the spirit and a Prince of the once-American Dream. I love the man, he spoke to the best and bravest in us, and his fights on film and tape are priceless, priceless. Muhammad Ali made me proud to be an American.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears regularly on Page 2.