Floyd the best thing to ever happen to boxing??? Jeez, anybody think that might be a stretch?
Interview With Junior Jones - “Floyd Mayweather Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Boxing!”
By James Slater/Eastside Boxing
Brooklyn’s “Poison” Junior Jones, the ultra-exciting bantamweight/super-bantamweight world champion of the mid and late 1990s, gave fight fans some truly unforgettable fights in his day. Best known for his two great wins over Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, Jones also picked up wins over Jorge Julio, Orlando Canizales, Tom Johnson and Tracy Harris Patterson.
Retiring in 2002 with a fine 50-6 record, Junior was content; safe in the knowledge that he had done his bit for the sport. Jones today also takes great pride due to the way he always gave his all in the ring, thrilling the paying fans..
Today, aged 39, Junior owns a gym in Brooklyn, and he remains an avid follower of the sport he excelled in.
Very kindly taking the time to grant me the following interview, “Poison” had these answers to my questions:
James Slater: It’s a real pleasure to be able to speak with you, Champ! First of all, how do you occupy your time these days, now that you’re no longer fighting?
Junior Jones: I run my own gym here in Brooklyn. So I work with fighters here.
J.S: Do you miss fighting yourself? Was it hard to walk away in 2002?
J.J: Nah, not at all. I did what I could, I accomplished the goals I set out to accomplish. It was actually very easy to walk away to tell the truth - I had no more pressure trying to please people all the time.
J.S: Are you still a fight fan; you still follow the game intensely?
J.J: Definitely, I still go to the fights. I think Floyd Mayweather is the best thing that ever happened to boxing. I think Floyd’s the best fighter ever!
J.S: The best ever? You obviously think he beats Pacquiao if they fight then?
J.J: It’s a good fight, but Pacquiao has no chance to beat him. Floyd has a perfect defence, he has perfect hand speed - he has no flaws. How can you beat a perfect fighter?
J.S: You gave us so many great fights yourself……
J.J: I tried.
J.S: No doubt about it. What did it mean to you when you became WBA bantamweight champ by beating Jorge Julio in 1993?
J.J: That meant a lot to me. I was knocked down for the first time ever, and I had to overcome a lot of adversity to beat him. It always means a lot, winning your first world title.
J.S: I remember when you lost the title (after one retention), to John Michael Johnson (via 11th-round TKO in April of ’94). I think they called it The Upset of The Year!
J.J: Yeah, that fight I had bad weight problems. I was so tired from having made weight. I didn’t even drink anything for 12 hours. I had no energy in that fight.
J.S: You moved up to 122-pounds after, did you feel so much stronger up at super-bantam?
J.J: Yeah, I felt great at 122. I should have been fighting up there all along.
J.S: And you went on to win the two fights you’re probably best known for, the two wins over Marco Antonio Barrera. But you beat the classy Orlando Canizales first….
J.J: (jumping in) That fight meant more to me than the Barrera wins. That was my best-ever fight. Canizales was a smart fighter, very clever defensively. He was a lot cleverer than Barrera.
J.S: The two wins over Barrera were sensational though, especially the first one which you basically won by 5th-round KO…..
J.J: Yeah, it was a DQ, but that’s only because his corner-men jumped into the ring. They did that to stop him from getting KO’d - but he was out in the fight.
J.S: That was your most impressive win, from a punching-power perspective. Did you always feel you’d stop Barrera?
J.J: It’s funny, but leading up to that fight I felt for sure I’d KO him inside five-rounds. But I felt I sounded a little cocky saying that, so I kept it secret and only told my trainer.
J.S: And the rematch, which you won on points, proved the first win was no way a fluke. Did you feel in command all the time in the return?
J.J: I knew I was in command, but I also knew I wouldn’t knock him out this time. It was a tough fight and I had to show my guts.
J.S: I remember reading after that win, your “Hit List.” I think it was in Ring magazine, or KO. Near the top of your list was Naseem Hamed…
J.J: (jumping in) I wanted that fight. That fight would have been huge back then! It would have been a difficult fight, with Hamed being a southpaw, who had a helluva punch. I would have had to be more cautious than in my other fights, but I’m pretty sure I would have caught up with him and stopped him, but it would have taken quite a long time. That fight would have gone quite far, in terms of distance.
J.S: Instead you fought Kennedy McKinney on that awesome card when “Naz” fought Kevin Kelley. That was some great night! Your fight, you came up short, but what a classic!
J.J: I beat myself in that fight. I dropped McKinney (in the 3rd-round) and then I threw so many [follow up] punches, because I was sure the ref was going to stop it. I was so tired from throwing punches, I punched myself out. He should never have beaten me.
J.S: Is it fair to say that was your last great fight?
J.J: Yeah, I think so. Definitely, that was my last good fight.
J.S: You did go to Mexico to fight Erik Morales after that, though….
J.J: I got a little over myself in that fight. I thought it was pretty easy actually. He was much better than I expected, and he was a better puncher than I thought. He was tall, too. Not many guys I fought were as tall as me, or slightly taller in his case. That gave me problems in the fight.
J.S: I have to ask you about your two fights against British fighters. Firstly, you fought Richard Evatt (up at featherweight) in the UK in 1999. Do you remember that fight well? It was a real war as I recall!
J.J: I remember that fight clearly (laughs). He got himself up for that fight in a big way. Myself, I couldn’t get as up for it, seeing as how I never knew who he was. I was looking at getting the Hamed fight (who fought in the main event). He [Evatt] did great against me, he knocked me down and he was winning the fight. I knew I had to knock him out to win.
J.S: You also fought Paul Ingle, in 2000.
J.J: I was just totally into that fight. I was so into it, I didn’t really know what was going on in there. I had him down, but he fought a helluva fight. I always tried to please the fans, whether I won or lost. I tried to give them their money’s worth each and every time.
J.S: There’s no doubt about that at all. You fought some classics! We don’t seem to see that kind of action as much these days. You finally retired with a fine 50-6(28) record. Which fight are you most proud of, Junior?
J.J: The Canizales fight. It wasn’t so much the title (IBC 122-pound title). I beat him and I was extremely good that night. I feel good today, with what I accomplished. My record could have been a little better, but I hope to be in The Hall of Fame one day. It’s kinda doubtful but you never know!
J.S: I’d vote for you! Thanks so much for your time, Champ. It’s been great.
J.J: My pleasure.