Before he fades from view, Roy Jones Jr. will fight in Philly
By BERNARD FERNANDEZ
Even his most ardent admirers would not dispute that Roy Jones Jr.'s boxing prime is in his rearview mirror. But Jones, who had perhaps more natural talent than any fighter of the last 25 years, still has something the up-and-comers of the sport don't: name recognition.
The 37-year-old Jones (50-4, 38 KOs) will defend his virtually worthless NABO light-heavyweight title against Puerto Rico's Manny Siaca (20-6, 18 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round, pay-per-view bout Dec. 9 at the Liacouras Center, but it matters little whether some shiny trinket is at stake.
What does matter, at least to fight fans who prefer to see legends of the sport up close and personal, is that a future Hall of Famer will perform live in Philly.
Although Philadelphia has retained much of its reputation as producing more quality fighters than any other town, the reality is that best must go elsewhere to find superstardom.
Since prevailing economic conditions (i.e., casinos in Atlantic City) forced promoter J Russell Peltz to shut down his operation at the Spectrum in February 1980, the number of internationally known fighters who have appeared here can be counted on one hand.
Olympic gold medalist and Nicetown product Meldrick Taylor fought twice in his hometown as a pro.
As a 22-year-old IBF junior welterweight champion, Taylor stopped Jaime Balboa in five rounds in a non-title bout on Nov. 20, 1989, at the Civic Center. He also retained his WBA welterweight title on a unanimous, 12-round decision over Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown on Jan. 18, 1992, also at the Civic Center.
IBF lightweight champ Shane Mosley, 26, and future WBA super welterweight titlist David Reid, 24, appeared in separate bouts on June 27, 1998, at the Apollo of Temple, now the Liacouras Center. Mosley starched Wilfredo Ruiz in five rounds, and Reid took out Simon Brown in four.
Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins fulfilled a promise to himself when he defended his title on an eight-round technical decision over frightened Frenchman Morrade Hakkar on March 29, 2003, at the Spectrum.
But the closest parallel to the fading Jones' impending visit is the Dec. 16, 1995, bout at the Spectrum in which Mike Tyson, only 28 but already in decline, knocked out Buster Mathis Jr. in three rounds.