THE first time Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jnr shared a ring, all the way back in 1993, it came a little too early, with both still in the formative stages of what would end up being compelling and legendary careers.
Their second fight, meanwhile, took place in 2010 and came much too late, with Jones a shell of his former self and Hopkins having also seen his best days.
Now, in 2020, both are officially retired: Hopkins bowed out in 2016 and Jones followed two years later. Yet just because they are retired from fighting does not necessarily mean they have stopped fighting – temptation, demons, the pull of a return – nor does it rule out the possibility of them returning to the ring and trying again.
In fact, last week it was announced Jones, now 51 years of age, would be competing in an eight-round exhibition match against Mike Tyson, now 54, on September 12, and immediately the floodgates opened. Suddenly other retired boxers, boxers like 55-year-old Hopkins, could see routes to a return and old rivals with whom they could reconnect on the seniors tour.
“If I were to get in the ring again, it would be to settle [the score], even though we met many times in circles, fights, and boxing. I think you know where I’m going,” Hopkins, 55-8-2 , told Fighthub, referencing a potential third fight with Jones. “He won one in ’93, and I avenged myself 16-plus years later. If I had a choice, the only key question is at what weight would it be? It would be Roy Jones because we’re one and one.
“He got the first one, but I wouldn’t say [I was] in the prime of my career. I’d say that was the opening of the door of these future Hall-of-Famers, and then we became that. In 1993, everyone knew that Roy was the Olympian, and should have got the gold [in the 1988 Games]. I believe that too.
“He should have got the gold. I come from another place – another way to get to where we both actually wound up. Our travels were different. I went on to become undisputed. I had some great fights in between. I had the middleweight title defence record. That would be the one to say, Okay, I got two-up. Michael Jordan had his pain in the ass, or thorn in the haystack: Isaiah Thomas. We ain’t that severe but every era of sports seems to have that one and two connection. That’s great stuff, man.
“[Muhammad] Ali and [Joe] Frazier fought three times. I call it the ‘settle the score’ fight. It could be an event.”
Roy Jones’ scheduled exhibition bout with Mike Tyson in September will certainly be an event, there can be no disputing that. But that doesn’t mean anybody needs to see it, nor that it has any reason, beyond greed and a craving for attention, to be taking place in 2020. Similarly, though Hopkins vs. Jones III would be the third fight in a trilogy, the number three is essentially the only thing it has in common with the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’.