THIS was the second meeting between Roy Jones Jnr and Montell Griffin. The first took place five months previously on the March 21 1997, at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Going into the first fight Jones had captured the WBC light-heavyweight championship after defeating Mike McCallum. This made Jones a three-division world champion after previously winning titles in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions.
THE first defence of his title would be against Griffin, who just like Jones was undefeated. Griffin entered the first fight off the back of his second victory over James Toney, for the lightly-regarded WBU title.
HEADING into the 9th round of their first bout, Jones was slightly ahead on the scorecards. He caught Griffin with a right hand that staggered the challenger into the ropes. Jones then unloaded with a flurry of punches forcing Griffin to take a knee. Jones then landed a right–left combination knocking Griffin face first into the canvas.
REFEREE Tony Perez then proceeded to count Griffin out. The fight was stopped at the 2:27 mark. Jones, thinking he had won, started to celebrate with his corner. However, Perez then announced he was disqualifying Jones for the illegal shots. It handed Griffin the victory, and Jones his first career defeat.
AFTER the first fight Griffin had expressed a desire to fight against Virgil Hill, who was then the IBF and WBA champion. However, a rematch was made set for August 7, 1997. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut would be the venue for the rematch, billed as “Unfinished Business”.
GRIFFIN stated that “I’m coming in angry, with a lot of rage.” This bad blood was due to the fact Roy had accused the champion of faking an injury to win the title from Jones. This was a statement that hit a nerve with Griffin. “The man contradicts himself; he makes himself look bad he has problems.”
THE fight however lasted only two minutes and 31 seconds. Jones came out swinging and sent Griffin stumbling into the ropes after just 20 seconds. Referee Arthur Mercante correctly ruled it a knockdown, with only the ropes keeping Griffin up.
AS the first round drew to an end, Griffin threw a jab and Jones answered in devastating fashion. Roy leaped from the floor with a left uppercut-cum-hook which shook Griffin to his foundations knocking him onto the seam of his trunks.
GRIFFIN tried to clamber back to his feet, but fell forward into the ropes as Arthur Mercante reached the count of nine, and waved the fight off.
JONES caught up in the heat of the moment, after avenging his first career defeat, announced that he wanted to save boxing by fighting Evander Holyfield.