Thursday, January 20, 2011
Roy Jones back on HBO -- as an announcer
By Dan Rafael
It's a move that seemed to have been coming for months, but on Thursday it became official when HBO announced it had reached an agreement to bring back Roy Jones Jr. as a permanent expert analyst on "Boxing After Dark."
It's a good move, and one that's been a long time coming -- since HBO fired Lennox Lewis last May after his disastrous stint at ringside.
After Lewis was jettisoned following the expiration of his contract, HBO said it would simply stick with the two-man announcing team of Bob Papa and Max Kellerman. They're both pros and very good at what they do, but it was obvious, at least to me, that the broadcast needed the voice of a trainer or fighter to add perspective about what was happening in the ring.
HBO invited Jones to fill in a few times last year. For example, he was ringside for Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium in June to fill in for "World Championship Boxing" analyst Emanuel Steward (who was busy that night as Cotto's trainer). He was also on the mic in November on the BAD headlined by Zab Judah against Lucas Matthysse.
"We were not searching for a permanent analyst on the 'Boxing After Dark' series, but Roy simply blew us away with his performance as a guest analyst last year and we decided it's time to bring him back," said Rick Bernstein, HBO Sports executive producer. "This will be a seamless transition for a person who has been a member of the HBO family since 1992 and will enhance our telecasts."
Jones, of course, spent years fighting exclusively on HBO and was an analyst from 1996 to 2005, mainly working on BAD, even while he was a world champion and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
But Jones, 42, didn't know how cushy he had it with HBO. He would show up late for meetings (if at all). He was a prima donna. He wasn't a team player. And he eventually got fired, even though he was excellent on camera, because he was basically a pain in the rear end.
Now Jones (54-7, 40 KOs) is just about at the end of a brilliant fighting career that should have been over a few years ago. He has lost two in a row and three of his last five, with each loss being utterly lopsided, decisions to Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins and a first-round knockout loss to Danny Green.
Now that his fighting career is basically over, Jones has mellowed a bit. In his second tour of duty with HBO, I think he'll realize how great of a gig he has and will be much easier for the producers to deal with.
He will make his return to BAD on the season debut Feb. 19, when bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel defends against Nonito Donaire in the main event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
It will be great to have Jones back. Hopefully, besides insightful and engaging commentary, the new job will hasten Jones' permanent exit from the ring.