WHEN Sugar Ray Robinson landed his greatest punch, it turned the granite-tough Gene Fullmer into rubble. When Sugar Ray Leonard showboated most memorably it was against Marvin Hagler (or Roberto Duran, take your pick). When Muhammad Ali gained revenge it was over Joe Frazier. For Roy Jones Jnr, though, such moments came against the likes of Glen Kelly (knocked out by a single shot just seconds after Roy had both hands behind his back), Richard Hall (battered into submission while Jones wound up his own lightning versions of a bolo punch) and Montell Griffin (iced in a round just five months after frustrating Jnr into disqualification defeat).
At his peak, Jones was a sublime fighting machine, one who evoked memories of the greatest of all time, and one many considered could go on to surpass his idols. When Robinson, Ali and Leonard quit, each did do so knowing there was nothing left to achieve. But with Jones – arguably as naturally talented as that trio – lingering ‘what if’ questions threaten to stain his legacy forever.
Which isn’t completely fair. He blazed onto the professional scene on the back of an infamous bad decision that robbed him of gold against Park Si-Hun at the 1988 Olympics. In his third pro outing he halted future world title challenger Ron Amundsen, he went 16-0 after knocking former welterweight titlist Jorge Vaca in a round, and then found time to spank world-class Jorge Castro, Percy Harris, Glenn Thomas and Glenn Wolfe before he claimed his first major title – IBF middleweight – with a clear decision over Bernard Hopkins in 1993.