Roy Jones Jr ‘Superman’, A Biography!

Roy Jones Jr

DOB: January 16, 1969 – Pensacola, Florida
Gym(s): Pensacola, Florida. Roy Jones Jr Boxing – Las Vegas. RJJ boxing school – Moscow Russia
Boxing Career: Amateur, Professional, Trainer, Commentator, Rapper
Nickname: ‘Superman’, ‘RJ’, ‘RJJ’ ‘Captain Hook’ 
Height: 5 Foot 11 inches. 180cm
Reach: 74 inches. 188cm
Stance: Orthodox
Weights fought at: Middleweight, Super middleweight, Light heavyweight, Cruiserweight, Heavyweight.

Professional Record: 

Total Fights: 75
Wins: 66
Wins by KO: 47
Losses: 9
Draws: 0
No Contest: 0 

Notable Fights vs: Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Mike McCallum, John Ruiz, Antonio Tarver. 

Roy Jones Junior: Overview 

Roy Lavesta Jones Junior, a former American professional boxer, ‘ring technician’ and absolute legend of the sport holds one particularly unique career achievement. He is the only boxer ever to start his career at Junior middleweight yet go on to become a Heavyweight champion of the world. Jones is also noted for holding a record seven belts at the same time; the WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO, NABF, WBF, and IBA light heavyweight championships. ‘Superman’s’ most notable achievement in boxing however is perhaps as initially iterated; he was the first middleweight champion to win a  

Heavyweight title in 106 years! Oh, he was also named by the Boxing Writers Association of America as the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 1990s. Not a bad resume!

Roy Jones Junior: Early Years

Like so many other ‘Juniors’, Roy Jones Jr. was born into a family with a boxing tradition. His father, Roy Jones Sr. was also a middleweight boxer, as well as a Vietnam War hero and veteran who after rescuing another soldier was awarded the Bronze Star for valour. Jones Jr would not fight in any ‘military wars’ or thereby achieve any such honours but he would go on to be more successful in the ring than his father -whose main claim to fame was that on the 10th June 1977 he fought ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler on the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Vinnie DeBarros undercard. Jones Sr. would lose that fight by KO in the 3rd round and receive only a paltry $1,500 to Leonard’s $50,000. ‘RJJ’ would go on to be quite a bit more successful.

Roy Jones Junior: Amateur Career

Roy’s amateur career was a pretty impressive one to say the least. He won 121 fights with only 13 losses, during which he won the;

  • 1984 United States National Junior Olympics at 119 lbs (54 kg) division.
  • 1986 United States National Golden Gloves at 139 lbs (63 kg) division.
  • 1987 United States National Golden Gloves at 156 lbs (71 kg) division.

The only real blight on Jones’ amateur career occurred when he represented the United States at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and then it was not his fault! Jones dominated his opponents much as Sugar Ray Leonard had done 12 years earlier, never losing a single round en route to the final, but the final itself would result in possibly the worst decision in Olympic history and Roy Jones would only receive the Silver medal.

To briefly recap for those unfamiliar, South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun was pounded around the ring for three rounds. Jones landing 86 punches to Parks 32 yet somehow lost a 3-2 decision and thereby was only awarded the Silver medal instead of a deserved Gold. Though the decision stood, the World knew who had really won and that there was a sensational talent on the horizon who was about to turn pro. Jones able to take solace from the fact Park himself apologised to Jones afterwards. Also that the referee personally told Jones that he was dumbstruck by the judges’ decision with one judge shortly after admitting the decision was a mistake. All three judges who had voted against Jones eventually suspended.

A later 1997 IOC (International Olympic Committee) official investigation concluded – three of the judges were wined and dined by South Korean officials. Which led to calls for Jones to be awarded the gold medal. The IOC however stood and still officially stands by its decision. Jones was awarded the ‘Val Barker’ trophy as the most stylistic boxer of the 1988 games. Something that to this day and in the competitions history has only happened on 3 occasions where the award did not go to one of the gold medal winners. Such a disgrace was the incident considered, that it led the Olympic organisers to establish a new scoring system for Olympic boxing.

Roy Jones Junior: Professional Career

By the time ‘RJJ’, as he was also known, turned professional, he had already sparred with a whole host of notable champions including Sugar Ray Leonard. It was little surprise therefore in his professional debut on the 6th May 1989 at the Pensacola Bayfront Auditorium he would knock out Ricky Randall in the 2nd round. Indeed, Roy would quickly amass a 15-0 record with 15 knockouts before moving up in class to take on former world welterweight champion Jorge Vaca in a ‘Pay Per View’ fight on the 10th January 1992. Vaca was summarily dispatched by KO in round one to reach 16 knockout wins and Jones even extended it to 17 KO wins, before finally being taken the distance for a first time against future world champion Jorge Castro. Jones winning a 10-round decision in front of a USA Network national audience.

Roy Jones Jr. First Title (Bernard Hopkins)

With such an impressive start to his professional career it was only a matter of time before Roy Jones Jr would get a title shot. On the 22nd May 1993 Jones would beat future undisputed middleweight champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer, Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision to capture the IBF middleweight championship, with Jones even claiming he entered the bout with a broken right hand. True or not Jones outpointed Hopkins by 116-112 on each judge’s scorecard and even later in life reminded people of this in one of his hit single rap songs “Ya’ll Must’ve Forgot”. (See later)

Several more victories would follow before Roy decided to move up to super middleweight and put on probably the best performance of a career that had many!

Roy Jones Jr. ‘The Uncivil War’ (James Toney)

On the 18th November 1994, Roy Jones Jr. faced the #1 ranked “pound for pound” contender and undefeated IBF super middleweight champion James ‘Lights Out’ Toney. Undefeated in 46 bouts, Toney was widely rated as the world’s best. The fight was the most anticipated and biggest fight of the year with Toney actually predicted to win by many experts due to the superior level of competition he had faced. Jones Jr. for the first time in his career was the underdog, but it made little difference quite frankly as ‘Superman’ boxed rings round Toney (as he would go on to do to many others) and even handed ‘Lights Out’ a very rare ‘flash’ knockdown in the 3rd round on route to a 12-round unanimous decision.

Ring magazine called Jones performance the most dominant of any big fight in 20 years and though Toney is known to have been wildly unprepared for the fight, the judges’ scorecards of 119–108, 118–109, and 117–110 bore out Ring magazine’s assessment of Jones Jr’s simply mesmerising performance!

*** Nb James Toney did not quite see it the same way blaming making the weight for his poor performance before going on a bender of epic proportions! See the linked article.

Roy Jones Jr. Notable Fights!

– In 1995, Roy defended his super middleweight title multiple times firstly knocking out Antoine Byrd in round one, before absolutely pasting former world lightweight champion Vinny Pazienza to defeat in round six.

* Note Jones knocked Pazienza down three times. Then in the fourth round, Jones became the first fighter in CompuBox history to go an entire round without being hit by his opponent. Pazienza credited with throwing five punches and landing zero!

– Further knockouts of Tony Thornton in round two in 1995 and Merqui Sosa similarly in 1996, saw Jones maintain his winning ways, before he defeated by knockout future world champion Eric Lucas in round eleven. 

* Note the Lucas fight gained notoriety as it ensured Jones became the first athlete to participate in two differing paid sporting events on the same day. Jones having played a basketball game in the morning before defending his boxing title in Jacksonville, Florida in the evening!  

– On the 22nd November 1996, multiple world champion and future hall of famer Mike McCallum was defeated by a landslide decision in 12 rounds earning Jones the WBC light heavyweight championship. Also ensuring Roy became a member of an elite class of boxing champions who had won titles at three weight classes. McCallum afterwards declaring Jones “the greatest fighter of my time.” 

– Jones first professional loss occurred in March 1997 with a disqualification against Montell Griffin. Griffin established an early lead but by round 9 Jones was ahead on the cards and dropped Griffin to the canvas. Griffin took a knee in order to avoid further punishment, and Roy unwisely hit him twice. Something which would subsequently see Jones disqualified and lose his title. An immediate rematch was sought and Roy had a point to prove! Easily regaining the world light heavyweight title by first knocking Griffin down within the first 20 seconds of the fight. Before ending it just over 2 minutes later with a leaping left hand shot that literally turned Griffin to Jelly!

– On the 18th July 1998, Jones would climb off the canvas for the first time in his career, after being dropped in round 8 to beat light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle, by unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden to unify the WBC and WBA belts. 

Roy Jones Jr would win several further ‘showmanship’ fights between 1999 and 2003 before his next major boxing milestone was achieved. In between, in 2001 Jones would announce his presence in the music industry by releasing Round One: The Album, a rap CD. Even playing a song from the CD during his ring entrance on route to defeating future world champion Clinton Woods by technical knockout in September 2002.

Roy Jones Jr. Heavyweight champion (John Ruiz)

On the 1st March 2003, Roy Jones Jr defeated John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight title in Las Vegas. Giving away 36lbs in the process, Jones weighed in at 193 lbs and  Ruiz at 226 lb, Jones won by unanimous decision and became the first former middleweight title holder to win a heavyweight title in 106 years. Moreover, Jones also became the first ever fighter to start his career as a junior middleweight and win a heavyweight title. 

To fully duplicate Bob Fitzsimmons feat of 1896 on the 8th November 2003, Jones returned to the light heavyweight division to regain his championship belt from Antonio Tarver. In doing so, he became the second boxer in history to win a heavyweight title, then regain the light heavyweight title. Jones again winning by majority decision and a score of 117–111, 116–112 and 114–114. 

Roy Jones Jr. Things start to slip!

From Jones’ re-match with Tarver on the 15th of May 2004 in which for the first time in his career Roy Jones was declared unable to continue (after Tarver caught him with a big counter hook) in only Round 2, with the referee stopping the fight, Jones’ career began to slide. A further loss to Glen Johnson on the 25th September 2004 by KO in round 9, with Jones laid out on the canvas for a full 3 minutes after being counted out, did not bode well!

Similarly after almost a year away from the ring, Jones focused on training and working as an analyst for HBO Boxing, his return to another defeat from Antonio Tarver on the 1st October 2005 by a wide unanimous decision (117–111, 116–112, 116–112) saw the once unstoppable ‘Superman’s’ career seriously start to falter.

Roy Jones Jr. A comeback?

Roy Jones Jr was not one to take defeats lying down though:  

  • On the 29th July 2006, Jones fought and beat Prince Badi Ajamu by unanimous decision to win the NABO light heavyweight title.
  • On the 14th July 2007, Jones defeated the undefeated Anthony Hanshaw by unanimous decision and in doing so also won the IBC light heavyweight title.
  • On the 19th January 2008, Jones faced former 147 and 154 pound five-time world champion Félix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden at a catch weight of 170 lbs. Jones dropping Trinidad in rounds 7 and 10 before winning the bout by unanimous decision and scores of 117-109 and 116-110 (twice). Marking the first time a former heavyweight champion had returned to fight successfully at 170 lbs.

Roy Jones Jr’s ride into retirement – some notable wins and some notable losses!

  • Roy Jones Jr. fought Joe Calzaghe for ‘The Ring’ light heavyweight championship at Madison Square Garden on the 20th September 2008, ultimately losing by unanimous decision and winning only 2 rounds on the three official judges’ score cards. 
  • Jones though would beat former super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy on the 15th August 2009 in 10 rounds after Lacy’s corner stopped the fight. A notable win as Lacy had never been knocked out or stopped before. 
  • Jones rolling back the years in December 2009 to beat Danny Green in a first round TKO. 
  • Roy Jones Jr even rekindled his rivalry with Bernard Hopkins on the 3rd April 2010 in Las Vegas in a bout he would lose by unanimous decision.

Jones would go on to lose to Denis Lebedev in May 2011, before capturing the UBO vacant Intercontinental Cruiserweight title by beating Max Alexander in December of the same year. On the 21st December 2013, Jones defeated Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf by unanimous decision for the vacant WBU cruiserweight title, in a “Winner Takes All” match in Moscow, Russia. With the winner receiving the entire purse. Jones won by unanimous decision and scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-111 and went on to defend the title three times, twice in 2014 and once in 2015.

On the 17th February 2017 Roy Jones Jr won the vacant WBF Cruiserweight title against a very tough and undefeated bare knuckle fighter named Bobby Gunn who had a record of 72 wins by 72 Knockouts!

Jones’ 75th and final professional fight took place in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida on the 8th February 2018 vs Scott Sigmon in which he won the vacant WBU Cruiserweight title in a one sided unanimous before announcing his retirement.

Roy Jones Jr Retirement, Quotes and as a Rapper!

Roy’s retirement did not last too long however with him coming back in an exhibition fight of some style on the 28th November 2020 fight against one “Iron” Mike Tyson. The fight lasted the full 8 rounds and was declared a draw. Indeed, whilst most boxing fans and pundits saw otherwise, the fact Roy Jones was willing to do this for charity only made his legacy more endearing.

Jones was never short of a word or two throughout his boxing career and some of those best words can be found here:   

Roy Jones Junior’s Greatest Quotes!

Jones hilariously summing up his own career with the rap song ‘Y’all must’ve have forgot’ which complete with lyrics can be viewed here

Roy Jones Jr’s Accolades 

Too many to mention as seen throughout the article and in the above video, though Roy Jones Jr’s full boxing record is available to view here. Sometimes however it’s just simply best to watch a man in motion!