Rejuvenated Jones entertains MSG in unanimous win
Jones was the only one who could.
Backed by knockdowns in the seventh and 10th rounds, the former pound-for-pound king and four-division champion pounded Trinidad to win a clear unanimous decision in a light heavyweight fight before a pro-Trinidad crowd of 12,162 at Madison Square Garden.
They were supposed to meet once before -- back in 2001 when they were in their primes -- but Bernard Hopkins derailed the showdown by knocking Trinidad out. Finally meeting with their best days behind them, they still put on a good show for a crowd perhaps looking for a bit of nostalgia.
Although Jones, 39, is four years older than Trinidad, he looked much fresher. He's bigger and was faster and more accurate with his punches.
Jones also has been more active, winning twice in the past 18 months, whereas Trinidad was coming out of a 2½-year retirement that followed a lopsided decision loss to Winky Wright in May 2005.
That Jones was able to come that far down in weight was remarkable for a man who won a piece of the heavyweight title in 2003.
"One man, 169½ pounds tonight. Former heavyweight champion of the world," Jones said. "Show me another fighter who can do that."
In the end, it was clearly Jones' night. He won 117-109 on one scorecard and 116-110 on the two others. ESPN.com also had it 117-109 for Jones (52-4, 38 KOs).
"A lot of people thought I was done, but I'm still capable of doing a lot of things," Jones said. "I'm capable of beating anyone I get my mind right for. We had a beautiful training camp. I actually enjoyed training. I had beautiful sparring partners."
Trinidad didn't dispute the outcome.
"I took off two years and eight months. I take nothing away from Roy, but if I could have avoided the knockdowns, I think I could have won the fight," Trinidad said. "Roy was very fast and strong. He threw great punches. I have no excuses. He demonstrated speed and took my body punches."
Jones hit Trinidad with a lot of hard shots, two of which knocked him down. In the seventh, he nailed Trinidad on the temple with a right hand. Trinidad stepped back and fell to his knees on a delayed reaction. He rose at seven, and Jones continued to fire with both hands as the crowd was on its feet. He had Trinidad wobbling again after an uppercut near the end of the round.
And in the 10th, Trinidad's shaky legs betrayed him when he went down from nothing more than a left jab and a grazing right hand. But there were only a few seconds left in the round, and Jones couldn't follow up.
"I felt his power, but no way a former heavyweight champion of the world will let a super middleweight push me around," Jones said.
Afterward, Jones paid tribute to Trinidad's heart, telling him in the ring, "I can't believe you stayed in there 12 rounds with me. It was a great night, and we put on a great fight. Everybody thought we were old."
Jones, who jammed a right knuckle early in the fight, said he thought he was close to knocking Trinidad out a few times: "He was slipping some real good punches, and I was missing knocking him out by about an inch on some of those shots."
The win certainly sets Jones up for another big fight. He'd like to face super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe if the Welshman is able to dethrone light heavyweight champ Hopkins.
"I'll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime," Jones said. "If Calzaghe and Hopkins can't get it done, I'll go to Wales."
For Trinidad, however, there probably isn't another big fight after a career filled with them.
"I fight for my fans and the people of Puerto Rico," Trinidad said. "I'm going to talk to my father, but I'll make the decision if I will retire."
HBO will rebroadcast the fight Jan. 26 (10 ET/PT) along with same-day taped coverage from Germany of the Alexander Povetkin-Eddie Chambers heavyweight title eliminator.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.