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Last Updated:  Saturday, 1 March, 2003, 16:32 GMT
History beckons for Jones Jr
By Sanjeev Shetty

Roy Jones Jr can become one of the greatest fighters ever if he beats WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Jones Jr, who has reigned as world light heavyweight champion for several years, is conceding weight, height and reach to his opponent.

In doing so, he is attempting something that many have tried but few have succeeded at - moving up to the unlimited class of the heavyweight division and winning a world title.

Legends like Billy Conn, Archie Moore and Bob Foster could not do it - why should Jones Jr be any different?

The reason may well be that Ruiz is not the kind of champion that scares anyone, while the legends already mentioned had to fight the best champions in history.

Most boxing historians consider it an insult to compare Ruiz to the likes of Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Joe Frazier and certainly the Las Vegas-based heavyweight has some notable deficiencies.

Roy Jones Jr
Born: 16/01/1969
Record: 44 wins, one loss, 36KOs
Titles held: IBF middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, WBC and WBA light heavyweight

Although he survived 36 rough rounds with Evander Holyfield - the pair fought three times, sharing a win each and a draw - there are doubts about his chin due to a knockout loss to David Tua.

He does not have blistering power and does not have great boxing skills.

Ruiz would not be favoured to beat Lennox Lewis, Chris Byrd, Wladimir Klitschko or Mike Tyson.

His only advantage over Jones Jr will be his size, because even Ruiz has acknowledged he will have to be quicker than he has ever been to catch his opponent.

By challenging the weakest champion in the division, Jones Jr is displaying the kind of sense he shows so often in the boxing ring.

He has admitted to not fancying a match with either Lewis or Tyson, fearing that his livelihood would risked.

The plan for Jones Jr, whose speed has dazzled talented men like James Toney, Mike McCallum, Virgil Hill and Britain's own Clinton Woods, is to dazzle Ruiz with his quickness of hand and foot.

In fights where he has faced threatening opposition - and there have not been many of those - Jones Jr has been untouchable, parrying or slipping punches at will.

For a 34-year-old there is very little wear and tear on his body.

John Ruiz
Born: 04/01/1972
Record: 38 wins, four defeats and one draw
Titles held: WBA heavyweight title

He began his career at the light middleweight limit of 154lbs and is not expected to weight much more than 190lbs for Saturday's contest - Ruiz is likely to scale in excess of 225lbs.

Ruiz will hope to use his weight, strength and size to engage Jones Jr in a brawl and hopefully slow down his opponent.

Whether he can is one of the intriguing questions pertaining to this fight, as is what will happen if and when Jones Jr has to absorb a punch from a heavyweight.

The 1988 Olympic silver medallist has only been floored once in a 15-year career and was able to recover very quickly.

Rated as a hard puncher during his reigns as middleweight and super middleweight champion, Jones Jr has not looked as devastating during recent years.

But if he is able to hit Ruiz on a regular basis on Saturday, he could conceivably force a late stoppage.

BBC Sport believes Jones Jr will be quick enough, strong enough and good enough to avoid the blows and pick up his fourth world title at different weights by decision.




SEE ALSO
Brawl mars heavyweight weigh-in
28 Feb 03 |  Boxing
The ultimate challenge
27 Feb 03 |  Boxing

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