Roy Jones Jr. thought he was done.
After celebrating his 54th birthday in January, the legendary former multi-division boxing champion was satisfied with the career he put together and had no plans to compete again. Then he got the call that former UFC champion Anthony Pettis was interested in crossing over for a boxing match — and Jones just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“I wanted to fight Anderson Silva but it just kept getting pushed to the side, pushed to the side, pushed to the side. It never happened,” Jones said at the Gamebred Boxing 4 press conference. “I was kind of dead on all of it. I was kind of through with boxing. I was like, no, I’m done, I shouldn’t fight no more. I’m good. I’m 54 years old. Then they said, ‘You know, one of the greatest ever at 155 [pounds] said he would come up in weight to fight you and you don’t have to come no lower than 200.’ So it started sounding kind of intriguing.
“[Pettis] is very innovative in what he does too. He’s done things in the MMA ring that nobody else won’t ever do. For me to get the opportunity to face somebody who has that same type of creative mind in their own respective sport as I have in boxing, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute — should you say no to this?’ I want to say no but it’s Dean [Toole], it’s ‘Gamebred,’ it’s Milwaukee. Like, have you ever fought in Milwaukee before? No. So I guess the pros outweighed the nos. So here we are.”
While crossover fights between boxing and MMA are fairly common at this point, Jones credits himself as the person who initially had that idea when he pursued the fight with Silva, who was still UFC middleweight champion at the time.
Unfortunately, Jones and Silva never got the chance to meet in the ring, but the boxers versus MMA fighters phenomenon has definitely taken off in recent years.
That said, while Jones is enjoying the process getting ready for Pettis, he promises that this is a one-night only affair. He’s hanging up his gloves afterward and has no plans to pursue future fights against boxers or MMA fighters.
“At the end of my career, I still wanted to do it because I said I wanted to do it,” Jones said. “Here’s a perfect opportunity [against] a guy who is also a legend at what he did. Yeah, he was at a smaller weight class, but he’s up at 205 pounds when they talked to him about it so he’s big enough, so he knows how to handle himself and I know he’s going to go hard with his boxing, because he’s one of the greats.
“I’m not planning on doing it again, no. Only for Anthony, I’m doing this. Anthony wanted to change and try to cross over into this sport. With him and [Jorge] Masvidal and everyone else involved, they all made it such a good situation that it’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a good situation, it’s pay-per-view, it’s something I wanted to do, which was a crossover fight with a good name in MMA. I was the first one that came up with that idea and I didn’t get to do it. But I came up with the idea.”
On paper, Jones should be an overwhelming favorite to beat Pettis just based on experience alone, but he’s not banking on the past to save him in the present day.
He knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime fight for Pettis, so Jones is taking him seriously because the last thing he wants is to be embarrassed in what should be his final appearance in the boxing ring.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Jones said of Pettis. “He’s not a fool. He’s a good striker, sparring with good fighters. Caleb Plant is a former world champion. He’s getting the right sparring in. He’s doing the right things to get ready for a boxing match. He’s not playing. He’s serious about it.
“To be honest, to see how Jake Paul was able to make the transition and all that he did to make that much money in boxing, he inspires people to do the same thing. So you know that [Pettis] knows that he can get a chance, get a win, he’s going to be onto bigger and better things. So he’s putting his all into it.”