IT’S the age-old question: Was is better back then or is it better now?
According to Roy Jones Jnr, the former middleweight, super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion of the world, the answer to this question is simple.
Jones, now 51, returns to the ring against Mike Tyson, 54, in an eight-round exhibition bout on September 12, and believes both he and his opponent would have beaten current world heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in their heydays.
Asked by Sky Sports News if they could defeat the current generation of heavyweight champions, Jones Jr said: “Not right now. It would be hard for us to last 12 rounds with any of those guys. They are skilled fighters, not bad boxers. They are not as skilled as we were, but they are in their primes, and we are not.
“[But] In our primes? We would probably have beaten them. You can never say, but I think we would probably have beaten them.
“Our skill level was deeper, at that time, than it is now.
“In our prime we would have come out on top against most of those guys. But you never know because it never happened so you can’t discredit those guys. They are good fighters, well-respected fighters, and my hat is off to them because they are at the top.”
In a 75-fight pro career, Jones was at his best as a middleweight, super-middleweight and light-heavyweight, and dipped his toes into heavyweight waters just once, when dethroning WBA champion John Ruiz in 2003. Standing 5’10 and weighing shy of 200 pounds, Jones was never really big enough to be a true heavyweight, his one-and-done approach sensible, yet that didn’t stop the Floridian becoming only the second man [after Bob Fitzsimmons] to go from middleweight to heavyweight and win a world title.
In his prime, Jones, arguably the finest pure athlete to box, seemed capable of figuring a way to beat anyone on the planet, irrespective of their size or reputation.
And even now, though retired since 2018, he has ideas.
“Joshua? I would have boxed, moved around and made him move his feet to punch,” Jones, 66-9  said. “[Fury and Deontay Wilder]? I would stay close to. Just like [Mike] Tyson does – I would have stayed on their chest all night.
“Joshua is the only one I would box on the outside because he isn’t as tall as they are. I would have boxed him on the outside, but the other two I would box on the inside.
“They are all difficult because of their attributes.
“Joshua is an athlete who can get you with either hand, so you have to watch him. Dangerous with both hands.
“Fury would be difficult to get to because he is tall and awkward with a good mind. He has a high boxing IQ.
“Wilder has a very good straight right hand. You’ve got to get away from that before you even think about getting a victory over him.
“But back in the day? Some guys had all of those attributes. Back in the day we had guys that were tall, also could punch, also were acrobatic and athletic.”
They used to call Roy Jones ‘Superman’ back in the nineties and early noughties – and with good reason. But then, as is customary in boxing, he discovered he was human like the rest of them.