Thursday, March 24, 2011
Roy Jones Jr. to fight Denis Lebedev
By Dan Rafael
Roy Jones Jr., despite losing three of his last five fights and two in a row in lopsided fashion, will continue his boxing career.
On Thursday evening, Jones signed on to face rugged cruiserweight contender Denis Lebedev on May 22 in Moscow, John Wirt, CEO of Jones' Square Ring promotional company, told ESPN.com.
Wirt said the fight, scheduled for 10 rounds, will take place at cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds.
Jones (54-7, 40 KOs), who turned 42 in January, is nowhere close to the fighter that he was when he ruled as a pound-for-pound king for about a decade, but he has continued to fight sporadically.
He has not fought since April 2010, when Bernard Hopkins easily outpointed him in their rematch. Before that, Jones was knocked out in the first round by Danny Green in Australia in December 2009.
In Lebedev (21-1, 16 KOs), Jones is facing a quality contender who is a bigger man with solid power. The 31-year-old Russian's only defeat came in his last fight in December when he lost a controversial split decision to cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck in Germany, Huck's home country.
"I actually think he beat Huck and got ripped off in Germany," Wirt said. "I think he's the legitimate WBO cruiserweight champion and he is one of the toughest opponents in the division."
Although Jones figures to be a heavy underdog, Wirt said the fact that the fight is at 200 pounds could be a positive for him.
"I do believe the weight is to Roy's advantage," Wirt said. "Roy has had a lot of trouble getting down to 175 pounds in the last few fights. He was so dried out for the Hopkins fight and I think that showed in his performance."
The fight with Lebedev came about, Wirt said, because he was approached by a representative for Vlad Hrunov, Lebedev's promoter.
Wirt said he rejected the original offer and gave Hrunov a counter offer.
"We didn't budge and they came to our number and when they did, we signed," he said.
There is no American television deal in place for the fight, although Wirt said he was looking for one.
He also said Jones had other offers but went with Lebedev because it was the most attractive one.
"We had some different things on the table. We had an offer in Canada, something in the U.S., but this was a unique opportunity," Wirt said. "How many big fights have been in Russia? That was kind of a neat aspect that was intriguing about this. Roy has no problem and no issue with going to Russia. He is not concerned about fighting over there. We'll have fair judges and a fair referee. We've already been in contact with the Russian federation to make sure we know all the rules."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.