Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Roy Jones Jr. to fight at cruiserweight
By Dan Rafael
Roy Jones Jr., the former pound-for-pound king who won titles in four weight classes from middleweight to heavyweight, will fight in the cruiserweight division at a contract weight of 185 pounds, the CEO of Jones' promotional company told ESPN.com from Poland.
The one division Jones has never won a title in is cruiserweight. Now, even at 43, years past his best and having lost three of his last four fights (two by brutal knockout), Jones is fighting on in hopes of claiming a title in the division.
At a news conference on Wednesday in Lodz, Poland, Jones and Polish light heavyweight Dawid Kostecki announced that they will meet in a scheduled 10-round bout on June 30 Atlas Arena in Lodz.
John Wirt, the CEO of Jones' promotional company, Square Ring, told ESPN.com, that he had hoped to finalize a fight between Jones and cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland, but Wlodarczyk was not available because he has a mandatory rematch due against Francisco Palacios.
So Wirt began working with Kostecki's handlers a couple of weeks ago to put the fight with Jones together.
"Roy has set his goal to win the cruiserweight title. That is his new thing," Wirt said. "He wants to win the cruiserweight title, and with Wlodarczyk not available right now because he has to fight Palacios again, he wanted to stay active. And now Poland has pay-per-view and Roy is a huge star here. His fights were all shown here for many, many years, so he is one of the few big American stars here. There's a market here and Kostecki is a pretty big fighter here too. So this fight, knock on wood, should do very well on pay-per-view here. So that's what we're doing."
Pay-per-view in Poland began in September with Vitali Klitschko's heavyweight title defense against Polish contender Tomasz Adamek, the country's biggest boxing star.
"If this fight does well on pay-per-view in Poland and Roy wins, and if Wlodarczyk beats Palacios again, there is a possibility we could come back here and Roy could challenge him for the title. His goal is to win the cruiserweight title. It's the only belt he hasn't won (from middleweight to heavyweight)."
Kostecki (39-1, 25 KOs), 30, who counts himself as a big Jones fan, has never faced a top opponent and is unknown outside of his country. The fight is taking place on June 30 because, according to Wirt, Kostecki faces a jail sentence shortly after the bout.
After Jones (55-8, 40 KOs) defeated John Ruiz to win a heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to win a heavyweight title since Bob Fitzsimmons did it 106 years earlier, his career quickly went downhill.
Jones returned to light heavyweight -- taking off nearly 20 pounds, much of it muscle -- and struggled to a majority decision against Antonio Tarver in November 2003. In the rematch in May 2004, Tarver badly knocked Jones out in the second round.
Including the knockout loss to Tarver, Jones has gone 6-7 with four hard knockout losses in his past 13 fights. But he ended a three-fight losing streak in December with a 10-round unanimous decision against club fighter Max Alexander, a former participant on "The Contender" reality series.
One notable aspect of the fight is that Jones is going to fight in Poland when for years during his heyday, he never faced Poland's Dariusz Michalczewski, who was widely regarded as the best light heavyweight in the world besides Jones. Michalczewski, who fought mostly in Germany, was undefeated and a match with Jones was talked about for years. But they never met, in part because Jones was unwilling to go overseas as he is now, and Michalczewski retired in 2005 (48-2, 38 knockouts) after losing his last two fights.