By Thomas Gerbasi
Call me sentimental, but I kinda feel sorry for Junior Jones. Just look at the guy. He's got a sad face. Even before he fights his face holds a look of impending doom. And last night Jones came crashing down again. In his first fight since being kayoed by Kennedy McKinney, Junior couldn't make it out of the fourth round against poker faced WBC Junior Featherweight champ Erik Morales. And though it seems like I've been saying this in every fight report lately (Joppy-Duran, Tszyu-Ruelas), Jones should seriously consider a different line of work.
Coming into the fight, Morales was pretty much an uninspiring champion with only his potential keeping us interested. Bland, prone to whining fits, Morales was seen as an underdog by many (including myself) against the proven Jones. It also didn't hurt that Jones was an astounding 34-0 against Mexican fighters coming in. But before a hometown crowd in a converted bull ring in Tijuana, Mexico, Morales added a little fire to his patience, raising his standing among the boxing public.
Jones was impressive throughout the first three rounds of this entertaining scrap, much as he was in the opening nine minutes against McKinney. He landed some strong shots, raising a mouse under Morales' eye and bloodying his nose, but his balance seemed suspect and he just had the look of a man being led to the electric chair.
And late in the fourth round, "El Terrible" flicked the switch.
Two right hands sent Jones tumbling head over heels, and while Junior was up almost immediately, he was cut over his eye, and badly stunned. Morales wasted no time, pouncing on Jones while avoiding Junior's attempts to simultaneously fight back and hold on. A few head snappers later, referee Larry O' Connell wisely called a halt to the contest at 2:55 of the fourth. Morales' record is upped to 31-0 with 25 knockouts. Jones falls to 44-4 with 26 kayoes.
After the fight, Jones refused to divulge whether he was going to retire, and called Morales an average fighter. But even to the casual observer, it is obvious that Jones doesn't have the whiskers anymore (if in fact he ever did) to fight on a world-class level. A short year ago, Junior Jones was on his way to a million dollar showdown with Prince Naseem Hamed. Two knockout losses later, and Junior Jones is on his way to retirement at 27.
In an entertaining undercard scrap, Cesar Soto took a hard fought unanimous ten round decision over Carlos Rios in a featherweight bout. Soto scored the fight's only knockdown in round four, en route to the win. The judges scores were 96-93(2x) and 98-92.
Is Junior Jones Finished?
By Francis Walker
At one point, Junior Jones was one of the most dominant figures in the sport of boxing. After winning the Golden Gloves championship as an amateur in 1987, Jones turned professional at age 17. After a few major setbacks over the years, Jones, now 28, was recently given another chance to prove his claim as the best on the world. What looked to be one of Jones' finest performances, turned out to be another sad finish in Jones' career. Fight fans must wonder, is Jones finished?
On Saturday, September 12, at the Bull Ring in Tijuana, Mexico, Jones (43-4, 26KOs) in another world title bid, was knocked out again, this time by WBC super bantamweight champion Erik Morales (31-0, 25KOs). It was Morales' fourth
defense of the World Boxing Council's 122-pound-championship.
The bout, promoted by Top Rank, Inc., was televised on HBO's Boxing After Dark late night series.
Up until the time of the stoppage, Jones, a 27-year-old native of Brooklyn, New York, was winning the fight. His hard left and right-hand shots had Morales, 22, Tijuana, Mexico, backing up for most of the encounter. However, Morales changed the tide of the battle in the fourth round with a single straight-right to Jones' chin. Jones, wobbling from all angles, rolled backward on the canvas moments later following an accumulation of overhand rights to his temple. After returning to his feet by the count of 8, Morales finished Jones off with a barrage of hooks to Jones' chin. The bout was called to a halt, with just 5 seconds remaining in the period.
The loss puts Jones in the same situation he was in when he lost the WBA bantamweight championship in an upset to John Michael Johnson (TKO by 11) and knocked by Daryl Pinckney (TKO 3) four years ago. Jones, after winning 10 consecutive contests, appeared to have once again emerged as a threat to dominate the 122-pound division. Especially after big wins over former world champion Orlando Canizales (W 12) and two sensational outings with Marco Antonio Barrera (W DQ 5, W 12). Just when Jones regained center stage as a premier star as the co-feaure to "Prince" Naseem Hamed's four-round
destruction of Kevin Kelley, Jones was knocked out again by Kennedy McKinney (KO by4) in front of his hometown crowd in New York's Madison Square Garden. What an embarassment!
Although Jones has been accused of having a suspect chin ( or glass jaw) and stamina problems, Jones' lengthy periods of inactivity between fights has hurt him the most...
After defeating Barrera in a rematch April of last year, Jones took eight months off before meeting McKinney. Following the McKinney horror, Jones was out of action for nine months before challenging Morales, who defended the title he won from the legendary Daniel Zaragoza (TKO 11) last September, three times in the process.
Once again at 27, Jones (believe it or not) can still come back. Jones may no longer be in line to fight the big boys like Hamed, McKinney, Enrique Sanchez, Vuyani Bungu, Wayne McCullough, Luisito Espinosa, Derrick Gainer, Cesar Soto, or Freddie Norwood. Jones cannot afford to take much time off though. First, he must head straight back into training and rebuild his career with some easy wins against sub-par opposition. Activity is the key, look what it did for Vaughn Bean and Henry Akinwande!