The fight that refused to be made in 2002 – when it really mattered – now refuses to go away. Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. are, after 17 years, finally going to square off in a rematch on April 3.
In 2002, Jones-Hopkins II was the most important fight that could be made in boxing. Jones was the best fighter on the planet, pound-for-pound. The closest rival he had to that title was Felix Trinidad. Bernard Hopkins then dismantled Trinidad on his way to grabbing middleweight supremacy and the second spot on the pound-for-pound list. A battle between the consensus top dogs in the sport was inevitable.
If only it could have been so simple. Instead, they bickered over the purse split and the weight. Hopkins wanted more than a 40% share of the purse, despite losing the first fight to Jones in 1993. Jones thought he deserved a 60% share should he have to come down in weight to meet Bernard. They talked and talked and talked some more. Long story short: the fight never happened.
Eight years later, and 17 years after their first fight, they’re still fighting. And now they want to fight each other. For some bizarre reason, this fight just had to be made.
Now here’s five reasons you shouldn’t waste your time watching it.
1. The hype is dead.
With Roy Jones going down in a single round against Danny Green this past December, this fight has lost what little meaning it had left. They can try to sell us the fight by saying nasty things about each other – both Hopkins and Jones are excellent trash talkers after all. Hopkins is already doing his part by talking about how revenge against Jones means everything to him. Really, Bernard? After 17 years, that’s the fight that still sits with you? More than, say – the close shave against Jermain Taylor that ended your historic middleweight title defense streak? I don’t buy it – and you shouldn’t either. Literally.
2. It’s on pay-per-view.
Boxing fans know when an event deserves to be on pay-per-view with a hefty price tag attached to it. This one simply doesn’t fall into that category. Of the two, only Hopkins is still relevant in boxing. He sits among the top five in the sport on any pound-for-pound list, though he hasn’t had a meaningful fight since late 2008. To put it bluntly, Roy is a non-factor in boxing – just a name to add to a resume. In boxing years, they’re geriatrics. As of last month, Hopkins is 45 years old and Jones is now 41. While they would have made for a good show in 2002, their styles have grown to reflect their age. And it’s getting uglier all the time.
3. It’s going to be boring.
Of all the truly great boxers in history, Hopkins is quite possibly the hardest to watch. His style is dreary on a good day and dependent on getting away with shady tactics. His last fight against Enrique Ornelas, which turned out to be his most exciting in five years, was decent at best. Hopkins doesn’t even try to score knockouts anymore. He fights as little as possible and has the gall to complain when a close decision goes to his more active opponent. In the past, Roy has been labeled an exciting fighter because he’s been able to toy with overmatched opponents. Hopkins will not be overmatched, and you can bet that Roy will go into his shell as soon as he realizes it – the same way he did against Joe Calzaghe, the same way he did against Antonio Tarver and the same way he did against Glen Johnson.
4. You already know who’s going to win.
Don’t second guess yourself here. You know who’s going to win. And here’s a hint: it’s not the guy who won the first time they fought. Sure, you can argue that styles make fights. And 17 years ago, Roy Jones had the perfect style to beat out a very green Bernard Hopkins. But ask yourself this: what do Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson, Joe Calzaghe and Danny Green all have in common? I can think of one: they all beat a post-heavyweight Roy with ease. If Hopkins doesn’t join that group on April 3, then it will be as much of a shock to boxing as it will be an embarrassment to Bernard. Unless Hopkins gets old(er) overnight, revenge will be his.
If you’re like me and you tend to hold grudges against fighters when they screw up really, really bad, then you don’t even need all those other reasons to stay away from this fight. In a year when boxing was surging with attention-grabbing fights like Gatti-Ward, Lewis-Tyson, Morales-Barrera II and De La Hoya-Vargas, Jones and Hopkins denied us one of the most important fights of all time in 2002. Now they’re trying to force feed us that same fight eight years later. Keep that in mind when April 3 rolls around and you aren’t sure how to spend your Saturday night.
Tags: Bernard Hopkins, Bernard Hopkins vs Roy Jones Jr, Boxing, Roy Jones Jr