Jones back to face Lacy
Yes, Roy Jones Jr. is still fighting.
At 40, and two fights removed from an uncompetitive decision loss to Joe Calzaghe, Jones is no longer "Superman," as he was once called. He isn't even close to the pound-for-pound superstar who was the best fighter on the planet for about a decade, when he dazzled with speed and power while winning titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and even heavyweight.
Now, Jones (53-5, 39 KOs) just soldiers on even if few realize or care that he is still fighting.
He rebounded from the loss to Calzaghe to stop the badly faded Omar Sheika in the fifth round in March and now will face fellow Florida native Jeff Lacy (25-2, 17 KOs), the former super middleweight titleholder whose own career is in a precipitous free fall.
TV lineup for the Square Ring PPV card on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, $34.95) from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss.:
- Light heavyweights: Roy Jones Jr. (53-5, 39 KOs) vs. Jeff Lacy (25-2, 17 KOs), 12 rounds
- Cruiserweights: Danny Green (26-3, 23 KOs) vs. Julio Cesar Dominguez (20-4-1, 14 KOs), 12 rounds
- Cruiserweights: B.J. Flores (23-0-1, 14 KOs) vs. Epifanio Mendoza (29-7-1, 25 KOs), 10 rounds
- Lightweights: Verquan Kimbrough (21-1-2, 7 KOs) vs. Jason Litzau (24-2, 20 KOs), 10 rounds
They'll meet at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Square Ring PPV, $34.95) in a scheduled 12-rounder that headlines a four-fight card dubbed "Hook City," an homage to the best punches of each fighter.
Jones seems to think he can defy Mother Nature and recapture his old form. He blames the loss to Calzaghe in November 2008 largely on a cut he suffered, saying it took him out of his game plan. He seems to think the wipeout loss was merely a glitch, and that's it's only a matter of changing a few things to get back to his old self.
"Calzaghe was a better fighter than me that night, but he got me with a good cut and [he] was the better fighter that night," Jones said. "Overall, I am one of the best that ever did it, and I feel like I'm getting back to my potential right now."
After Jones beat John Ruiz for a heavyweight belt in 2003, he dropped back down to light heavyweight and was clearly sapped from losing more than 20 pounds, a lot of it muscle. After that fight, he struggled to a decision win against Antonio Tarver and then suffered three losses in a row -- including brutal knockouts to Tarver and Glen Johnson.
"When I had gone to heavyweight, I was a speed-combination puncher who [had] power," he said. "When I went to the heavyweight division, I focused on getting more power and less combinations and speed. Now I am focused more on my combinations and speed. Now I am back to the fighter I was when you saw me fight Julio Gonzalez [in 2001]. As a matter of fact, I might be better now than I was on that night. Now I am back to that Roy Jones, and that Roy Jones was a technician."
Defensively, Jones said he has also made some changes.
"I realized that when I was keeping my hands up by my face like an ordinary fighter, I was not Roy Jones," he said. "Roy Jones is not an ordinary fighter and that was hard for me, so I had to leave that alone. The old Roy is now me."
Jones is working closely again with his father, Roy Jones Sr., the man who taught him to fight and trained him in the early part of his career. But they had a bad falling out and were estranged for many years other than a brief reunion before the third fight with Tarver in 2005.
But Big Roy, as he is called, was in camp with his son for the second consecutive fight, although Jones' longtime trainer, Alton Merkerson, was also there.
Big Roy seems to agree that his son still has some fight left in him.
"Roy Jones Jr. should have never lost to Joe Calzaghe," Big Roy said. "I don't want to take anything away from Joe, but Roy fought out of his element. He didn't do the things he was known for. Physically, he was in the best shape I had seen him in in years. But he may not have trained for the occasion. You know, you don't take snow skis to the desert. Right now he is the same old Roy."
Possible unification, but not with who you think, for Berto
When Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer and Lou DiBella met last week in New York, the key topic was finding a way to schedule a Shane Mosley-Andre Berto welterweight title unification bout for Dec. 5 on HBO's "World Championship Boxing."
Ed Mulholland/US PRESSWIRE
You can bet on a return to the ring for Andre Berto, but it won't be against Shane Mosley.
Although HBO offered $3.2 million, there wasn't enough money to satisfy both fighters and the promoters, because Mosley was asking for $2 million and Berto more than $1 million. Since neither fighter is a huge ticket seller (and Dec. 5 is a poor date that late in the year to secure a site fee), it would have left no money for either promoter to make a profit, stage an undercard or take care of the other expenses.
That means Mosley-Berto is on hold until at least next year, DiBella told ESPN.com. However, Berto (25-0, 19 KOs) could still fight Dec. 5, which would become an edition of HBO's lower-budget "Boxing After Dark."
Berto would fight South Africa's Isaac Hlatshwayo (29-1-1, 10 KOs), who outpointed Delvin Rodriguez on Aug. 1 to claim the belt Joshua Clottey vacated to fight Miguel Cotto. DiBella said he and Branco Milenkovic, Hlatshwayo's promoter, have a deal pending HBO's approval. They came to terms a few days after the Hlatshwayo-Rodriguez rematch in Connecticut, a bout DiBella attended to scout and also because he had bought the American television rights for the fight. (By the way, it will air Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. ET on DiBella's "Broadway Boxing" series on SportsNet New York, which is available on satellite services.)
Although Berto has a mandatory rematch due with Luis Collazo, DiBella said the WBC would make an exception for a unification bout.
DiBella said he hopes to add junior middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez to the card to fight in the televised opener now that plans for Martinez to fight in Spain on Sept. 26 have been scrapped.
"I'd like to do Sergio in a good fight," DiBella said. "We would fight Clottey in two seconds or maybe Joe Greene," whom DiBella co-promotes.
Caballero keeps the pressure on
Even as unified junior featherweight titlist Celestino Caballero prepares to defend his belts Aug. 29 against Francisco Leal in Mexicali, Mexico, he still has beltholder Juan Manuel Lopez on his mind.
Caballero (32-2, 22 KOs) has launched a campaign to try to lure the rising Puerto Rican star into a unification fight. Caballero has produced video blogs calling Lopez out and has been talking up a storm. He has also taken shots at Lopez's manager, Orlando Pinero, who has dismissed Caballero.
AP Photos/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn
Celestino Cabellero is on a mission to land a big-money fight with Juan Manuel Lopez.
"Orlando, I have been a fighter for over a decade, and unfortunately, I know how things work in this business when it comes to fighters who choose to avoid the real challenges in their careers," Caballero said. "They receive preferential treatment and are never forced to live up to their boasts of being the best fighter in their division. The real fans know the only real fight left for your fighter at 122 pounds is against me, and you have the power to make it happen by going to your promoter, Bob Arum, and letting him know that this is the fight you want.
"Orlando knows that if I didn't bring up the possibility of this fight, he and his team would continue to run from me. Now the fans and the media are demanding it, so he has to respond now. And just so he hears me loud and clear, I will say it again -- if Juan Manuel Lopez is the great champion you say he is, he will step up and fight me. This is a fight for the fans and the sport of boxing, and if Lopez cares about his reputation and legacy, this should be the only fight he's thinking of. Just because Lopez comes from the island that produced great Puerto Rican champions like Felix Trinidad, Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez and Miguel Cotto doesn't mean he's one of them yet. Those champions never ducked a challenge. Don't let him disgrace them by being the first."
Panama's Caballero added that he is willing to go to Puerto Rico to fight Lopez.
Lopez is scheduled to fight Oct. 10 in the main event of a Top Rank PPV card, probably against Rogers Mtagwa.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
• Heavyweight James Toney (71-6-3, 43 KOs) is coming back. He faces Matt Greer (12-5, 11 KOs) in Temecula, Calif., Sept. 12 in an untelevised bout on the "ShoBox" card headlined by super middleweight Andre Ward against Shelby Pudwill. Toney, 40, hasn't fought since winning a controversial split decision against Fres Oquendo in December. Although Toney, a former three-division champion and two-time positive tester for steroids, is only 3-2-1 with two no contests in his last eight bouts, promoter Dan Goossen is giving him another chance. "If James can go out there and show he's still go something in the tank and has gotten into tip-top shape, he could get another opportunity in 2010 to fight for the heavyweight championship. So this is a fight to get him out in the public and give the media and people a chance to see how he looks and make a determination about if he's serious finally about his conditioning." Goossen said he hoped to make the bout available live via an Internet stream.
• In an effort to promote his Sept. 19 HBO PPV fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is returning to the WWE, at least for one night. Mayweather, who was a big hit in his "fight" with wrestler Big Show at last year's WrestleMania, will serve as the guest host of the Aug. 24 edition of "Monday Night RAW" (USA), according to multiple sources with knowledge of the deal. The show will be at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, where Mayweather lives and trains. WWE has been using guest hosts to jazz up "RAW" in recent weeks instead of relying on a single general manager character to "book" the matches for the night. No word on whether we'll see Mayweather-Big Show II.
• The Mayweather-Marquez televised undercard is all but done, according to Golden Boy. Two supporting bouts are finalized. Featherweight titlist Chris John and Rocky Juarez, who battled to a draw in February, meet again in the co-feature. Also on tap for the strong undercard: 2004 U.S. Olympian Vicente Escobedo and Australian brawler Michael Katsidis have signed their contracts and will meet for a vacant interim lightweight belt. The fourth TV fight pits Zab Judah against Antonio Diaz. They'll meet in a 10-rounder at a contract weight of 145 pounds. According to Golden Boy, Judah has signed and it awaits Diaz's signed agreement.
• Once Golden Boy made the decision to slot Escobedo-Katsidis on Sept. 19, it left an opening for a televised bout on the HBO undercard of Lucian Bute's super middleweight title rematch with Librado Andrade on Nov. 28 in Canada. It could be another super middleweight title bout, with beltholder Karoly Balzsay facing former "Contender" winner Sakio Bika, Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. "We're in talks," Gomez said. "Bika [whom Golden Boy co-promotes] is in. He'll fight anybody. We've talked to Balzsay's people and there's interest on both sides. It's a good fight and HBO likes it." Next week, Gomez is headed to Budapest, Hungary, Balzsay's hometown and the site of this year's WBO convention. On a card being staged in conjunction with the convention, Balzsay defends his title on Aug. 22 against Robert Stieglitz, which he would have to win. Gomez will be at the fight and said he'll meet with representatives from Universum, Balzsay's promoter.
• Although "Friday Night Fights" finishes its season Aug. 28 and won't be back until January, there will be a live boxing special Sept. 18 on ESPN2, network boxing programmer Doug Loughery told ESPN.com. In conjunction with "Hispanic Heritage Month," ESPN2 will air a card from the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. Headlining will be two-time Olympic gold medalist and Cuban defector Guillermo Rigondeaux (2-0, 2 KOs), who will step up to a 10-round fight for a regional junior featherweight title against an opponent to be named. Three other former Cuban Olympians are also slated for action: cruiserweight Yunier Dorticos, light heavyweight Yordanis Despaigne and junior middleweight Yudel Johnson. Two other prospects may appear: junior middleweight Erislandy Lara, another Cuban defector and former world amateur champion, and junior welterweight Felix Diaz, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist from the Dominican Republic.
• Vic Darchinyan is planning to return to junior bantamweight to defend his belts after losing a bantamweight title shot to Joseph Agbeko, and promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com he wants to match Darchinyan with interim titleholder Tomas Rojas, one of Darchinyan's mandatories. Shaw hopes to make the fight for Dec. 5 on Showtime. He said ideally he'll deliver Showtime a tripleheader that would also include lightweight Ali Funeka, whom he co-promotes, against Joan Guzman for a vacant lightweight belt, plus Yonnhy Perez, whom Shaw also co-promotes, in a mandatory shot at Agbeko. "What a great card. What a way for Showtime to close the year," Shaw said.
• Vassiliy Jirov, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist and former cruiserweight titlist, is returning to boxing. Jirov (37-3-1, 31 KOs) last fought in July 2007 and has fought only twice since mid-2005. But the 35-year-old hopes to box Sept. 17 in Woodland Hills, Calif. Jirov has reunited with manager Ivaylo Gotzev; they had split before Jirov lost his title and perfect record to James Toney in a 2003 slugfest. Jirov moved up to heavyweight after the loss but didn't have much success. The comeback will be at cruiserweight, Gotzev said. "There is no doubt in my mind that Vassiliy will be unified cruiserweight champion of the world," he said. "We are going to bring excitement to every fight, and there are some great fights to be made at that weight."
• Conflicts between fighters and promoters aren't limited only to the United States. Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm of Germany is on the outs with promoter Universum. Sturm was quoted in German newspaper BILD as saying, "I will never fight for Universum again. I'd rather retire." The fighter and promoter disagree about when the contract ends. Sturm says it's up Nov. 16. Universum says it has an option to extend it three more years. "Both sides benefited from our partnership," Sturm was quoted as saying. "Now I reached a point where I want to stand on my own feet." There had been discussions between Universum and Top Rank about a fall match between champion Kelly Pavlik and Sturm. Golden Boy has also been talking to Universum about a Sturm-Winky Wright match.
• Former heavyweight titlist Lamon Brewster (35-4, 30 KOs), who is now promoted by Sauerland Event, returns to action Aug. 29 in Germany to face Gbenga Oloukun (16-1, 10 KOs). The fight will be on the undercard of Victor Emilio Ramirez's cruiserweight defense against Marco Huck. Since being crushed in a rematch by Wladimir Klitschko in July 2007, Brewster has won two in a row on the comeback trail, including a win in March in Germany, his first fight since signing with Sauerland. "I believe I am about two fights away from the world title," Brewster said.
• Junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo (16-1, 13 KOs) -- who rebounded from his loss to Kermit Cintron to knock out Gabriel Rosado in the second round last week on "Friday Night Fights" -- will return Nov. 7 in the HBO-televised opener on the Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson II card. Although no opponent has been signed, Harry Joe Yorgey (22-0-1, 10 KOs) is one of the prime candidates, Yorgey promoter Artie Pelullo told ESPN.com. Yorgey made a name for himself in March when he scored an upset ninth-round knockout to hand Ronald Hearns, the son of Thomas Hearns, his first defeat.
• Philadelphia welterweight prospect Mike Jones (18-0, 15 KOs), who outpointed Lenin Arroyo last week while nursing a sore left arm, will take some time off because of the injury. Promoter Russell Peltz said it was diagnosed as a pinched nerve in Jones' neck, which runs down his arm and into his triceps. Peltz said Jones, 26, has had problems with the arm for several months. He saw two doctors after the fight and was given medication and a physical therapy program. He'll see the doctor again in three weeks. Peltz hoped Jones would be ready to fight Sept. 24 against fellow prospect Henry Crawford at the Wachovia Spectrum, but it is due for demolition in late October, so that plan is off.
• After long stretches of inactivity, junior lightweight titlist Jorge Linares (27-0, 18 KOs) will defend for the second time in less than four months when he faces Juan Carlos Salgado (20-0-1, 14 KOs) in Tokyo on Oct. 10. Linares, an ex-featherweight titlist from Venezuela who is based in Japan, hopes to get on a roll before moving up in weight. "I'd like to stay in this [weight] category for two more years before moving up to the lightweight division to win my third title," Linares said. In the main event, junior featherweight titlist Toshiaki Nishioka (34-4-3, 21 KOs) -- who is coming off a third-round starching of ex-bantamweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez in May -- faces former junior bantamweight titlist Ivan Hernandez (25-3-1, 15 KOs).
"Cris Arreola is one the strongest opponents I can think of. He is young, unbeaten, very confident and has a hard punch on his side. I will not underestimate him, but no doubt, I will leave California as the world champion." -- heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, on Arreola, whom he will defend against Sept. 26 (HBO) in Los Angeles
"It is the chance of a lifetime to have a fight in my hometown against the best heavyweight in the world. Truly, a dream comes true. Klitschko's last opponents did not have the class I have. I will take the advantage and grab Vitali's belt. I will be the first Mexican on the heavyweight throne." -- Arreola, on challenging Klitschko
"Marquez says hes goin after my ribs, but theres no weakness in MONEY MAY. Only ribs he'll b diggin n2 will b at Outback after I take him down." -- Floyd Mayweather Jr., on his Twitter page, responding to Sept. 19 opponent Juan Manuel Marquez's boasts that he'll go after Mayweather's tender ribs, which forced the fight to be postponed from July 18