AOL News has a new home! The Huffington Post.

Click here to visit the new home of AOL News!

Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Roy Jones, Still Fighting at 40

Mar 16, 2009 – 12:00 PM
Text Size
Michael David Smith

Michael David Smith %BloggerTitle%


Roy Jones Jr., preparing for his fight with Omar Sheika on Saturday, talked to me about how much longer he can fight and why he's now promoting fights, both in boxing and in MMA.

Michael David Smith: You've been one of America's most recognizable boxers for more than 20 years, since the 1988 Olympics. How much longer do you expect to fight?
Roy Jones: I don't know. I'm 40, and a kid I just signed came down and told me that I should retire now and pin my company on him. So we sparred last night and afterward he said, "I've never seen anything like this. You could fight until you're 50 years old." And I feel the same way.

Everything wears down with time, but truthfully, I was so far ahead of everybody, so much more advanced than everybody, that even if I do wear down, I'm still ahead of them. I probably could box until I'm 50. I don't want to fight that long -- I don't think, I don't know yet -- but right now I don't see the end ahead of me.

Are you concerned about long-term brain damage? You started boxing as a youngster and you're still doing it into your 40s. That's a lot of punches you've taken.

The way my style is, and the reason I'm able to last that long, is I don't get hit much. A few years ago I did, but now I'm back to getting my skills back to the level where you can't hit me. You might catch me with one, but you can't hit me a bunch of times.

But you're 3-4 in your last seven fights. Are you concerned that continuing to fight well past your prime is dangerous, and do you feel like you're slowing down?
I did feel like I was slowing down a lot -- until this training camp. In this training camp, I've been getting better as I'm going on. And you say I'm 3-4 in my last seven fights, but I'm 3-1 in my last four fights. It's just how you want to look at it. You can say I went 0-3 four years ago, but I'm 3-1 in my last four.

What comes up must come down, I'm not saying that's not the case. So maybe I've slowed a little, maybe some things have changed, but that doesn't mean that I'm not so advanced that anybody else can't touch me right now.

You're obviously still very confident.
Totally confident.

DYST V3 test

    LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers watches as Mo Williams #2 takes a shoe to the face by Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers after a steal in the closing seconds of the first half at The Quicken Loans Arena on February 8, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. (David Liam Kyle, NBAE/Getty Images)

    David Liam Kyle, NBAE/Getty Images

    Brazil's Diogo (L) vies for the ball with Paraguay's Hernan Perez during their U-20 South American Championship football match in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela on February 8, 2009.(Juan Barreto, AFP/Getty Images )

    Juan Barreto, AFP/Getty Images

    A Dalmatian looks at its handler as a judge goes to touch the dog during the first day of the 2009 Westminster Dog Show in New York February 9, 2009.(Lucas Jackson, Reuters)

    Lucas Jackson, Reuters

    Denver Nuggets forward Chris Anderson touches his head during a time out in the first half of their NBA basketball game with the New Jersey Nets in East Rutherford, New Jersey February 7, 2009. (Ray Stubblebine, Reuters)

    Ray Stubblebine, Reuters

    Margarita Marbler, of Austria, skis to a bronze medal finish the ladies moguls freestyle FIS World Cupskiing qualification at Cypress mountain in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. (Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press/AP)

    Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press/AP

    West Virginia guard Darryl Bryant (25) is fouled by Providence guard Jeff Xavier (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Morgantown, W.Va. Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. West Virginia won 86-59. (Don Wright, AP)

    Don Wright, AP

    Missouri's DeMarre Carroll, top, celebrates the Tigers' 62-60 win over Kansas in Columbia, Missouri, Monday, February 9, 2009. (Rich Sugg, Kansas City Star/MCT)

    Rich Sugg, Kansas City Star/MCT

    David Clarkson #23 of the New Jersey Devils fights Erik Reitz #4 of the New York Rangers during their game on February 9, 2009 at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (Al Bello, Getty Images)

    Al Bello, Getty Images

    Driver Patrick Sheltra (60) begins to spin coming out of the fourth turn during the ARCA 200 auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla. Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009.

    Darryl Graham, AP

    Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives serves the ball, in this multiple exposure, to Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic during their Fed Cup tennis match in Brno February 7, 2009.

    Petr Josek, Reuters



What kind of opponent do you think Omar Sheika is?
One of the toughest ones I could pick at a time like this. Because right at a time that people say I'm slowing down, I'm fighting a guy who is very capable of beating me. If I'm going to sell this fight on pay-per-view, I want to sell a real fight, not a one-sided contest. Omar Sheika can beat anybody on any given day. But, at the same time, I think my skill level is where I want it to be, to the point where I can control a guy like Omar Sheika.

Why did you decide to go this route with this fight? You're the promoter, you picked Omar Sheika as the opponent, and you're the person selling the pay-per-view. Why aren't you working with someone like HBO or Showtime or someone else rather than promoting this fight yourself?

Well, Showtime -- they're not big Roy Jones fans because I don't do things the way they want to do things. I'm not really looking to work with them. HBO has other fighters they're putting on big fights, and there was nothing really open with them. But I want to continue to better myself, and in order to better myself, I've got to continue to stay busy. I can't sit idle, I've got to work. If I sit still, I feel myself deteriorating. The more you sit still, the more your skills are going to deteriorate. So I had to set up my own fight.

And for this fight you're training again with your dad, who's going to be in your corner for the first time in 10 years on Saturday. What has that been like?
It's been fine. He's still my dad and I'm still me. We have our ins and outs, but we'll work together to get the job done.

Is Roy Jones Sr. the person who has had the greatest influence on Roy Jones Jr. as a boxer?
Probably.

Do you see yourself continuing to work as a promoter? Do you think you could have the same level of success that Oscar De La Hoya has had as a promoter?
Most definitely.

And that gets me to the other issue I wanted to ask you about, and that's the undercard to your fight with Sheika, which includes some mixed martial arts fights. Why are you getting into MMA promoting?
Because people are always trying to separate the two and make it a big rivalry. Why does it have to be a rivalry? Why would one have to be better than the other? You can have your own personal preference, but mixed martial arts is what it is and boxing is what it is and they're not against each other. They're still two forms of fighting man to man. If you like one you've got to like the other one. There's no reason to like one and not like the other one. And if you're going to do either one, you should try to learn things from the other one.

I agree with you. I love both sports.
I do too. Anybody who loves fighting should enjoy them both. Now, don't get me wrong. Mixed martial arts is different from boxing, and some people have their reasons to like one better than the other, but why not enjoy them both? They can both give you good fights, and that's what you're tuning in to see.

How much do you personally know about MMA?
I'm more of a casual observer, I don't want to claim I know a whole lot. But I know about it -- I know about Brazilian jiu jitsu, I know about the submissions -- but I'm an outside observer. But because they go man to man, face to face, I like the sport, because I like sports where you can be a real man about it.

Do you think boxing is on the decline in popularity, and that MMA has taken fans from it?
No, I can't say that. I would hope that all those mixed martial arts fans would also be boxing fans. I think right now the fans are getting more out of mixed martial arts because they're getting better fights. Mixed martial arts gives the fans more opportunities to see two superstars go against each other.

Latest UFC Images

    UFC Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "Fast & Furious" at the Gibson Amphitheatre on March 12, 2009 in Universal City, California. "Fast & Furious" - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals Gibson Amphitheatre Universal City, CA United States March 12, 2009 Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.com To license this image (16605173), contact FilmMagic.com

    Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.com

    (FILES) Mixed martial arts figure Charles Lewis "Mask", co-founder of the TapouT clothing line arrives at the premiere of "Watchmen" at the Grauman�s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, on March 2, 2009. Charles "Mask" Lewis Jr., was killed early on March 11, 2009 when a $300,000 Ferrari he was riding in crashed in Newport Beach and was torn in half. The driver of another car was arrested for investigation of manslaughter. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS / FILES (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) reacts after being defeated by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) reacts after being defeated by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (L) battles Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images

    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 7: Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine (L) battles Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine at Nationwide Arena March 7, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Quinton Jackson;Keith Jardine

    Getty Images



You've had a lot of different interests: You've been involved in music, acting --
Basketball.

Right, basketball. Do you see yourself branching out more and spending more time with those other interests, or will boxing always be your bread and butter?
Boxing will be my bread and butter because that's where all my years of expertise is. Boxing is where my time has been spent.

Do you want your sons to get into boxing?
No.

Why not?
It's a dirty sport. It's a dirty game.

But it's been very good to you.
Oh, most definitely.

And now here you are, about to have your first fight as a 40-year-old. What do you think that's going to be like?
I think it's going to be a great fight. I picked Omar Sheika because he's a guy who can beat me. I'm not asking fans to pay to watch me beat up on some guy, I'm asking fans to watch me in a tough fight. But I think I'm going to whoop him. I'm looking forward to it.
Filed under: Sports

ON FACEBOOK