Sunday January 20th, 2008

NEW YORK -- I'm just going to come right out and say it: I don't know what to make of Roy Jones.

Before Jones' thrashing of Felix Trinidad on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, I was firmly entrenched in the camp that believed Jones should go away -- and stay away. Fighters have a tendency, whether it's for pride or paycheck, to hang on too long, and in my estimation Jones was three years removed from being a factor in any division.

Am I having second thoughts? Well...

I still don't consider Jones a contender at light heavyweight. Yes, the division is championed by no-names, including one (IBF champ Clinton Woods) Jones dropped for the light heavyweight crown six years ago. But Jones has expressed no interest in taking on one of the recognized champions.

He has expressed an interest in challenging super middleweight king Joe Calzaghe.

Bad idea.

Strange as it may sound, Jones isn't ready for Calzaghe. Jones, 39, looked impressive in scoring a unanimous decision over Trinidad, who was floored twice and from the second round on did a nice impression of a piñata. After peppering Jones with combinations the first two rounds, Trinidad found himself playing defense for the rest of the fight as Jones stalked him around the ring. In the seventh round Trinidad took a right hook to the temple that left him briefly crumpled on the canvas, and a straight right in the 10th sent him down a second time.

"A lot of people thought I was done, but I'm still capable of doing a lot of things," said Jones. "I'm capable of beating anyone I get my mind right for."

But despite gaudy credentials, Jones is five years and two weight classes out of his league. He doesn't have the power of a traditional light heavyweight and he certainly can't match the hand speed of Calzaghe, who has arguably the fastest hands in the sport.

Another tune-up is needed. Potential candidates include Jeff Lacy, a former world champion who looked rusty in scoring a unanimous decision over Peter Manfredo last month or Allan Green, a rising star thirsty for exposure. While not presenting the same box office appeal as Calzaghe, both Lacy and Green represent legitimate contenders at 168 pounds and could be a litmus test for Jones to see if he can be competitive in a division he hasn't fought in regularly in since 1995.

For Trinidad, Saturday night's loss likely means a third (and final) trip to retirement. While the reported $9 million he earned for the fight will soften the blow, there is no question Trinidad is a shell of the fighter who once terrorized the welterweight division.

The first warning sign came at the weigh-in, when it was Trinidad (who fought most of his career at 154 pounds) and not Jones, a former heavyweight champion, who struggled to make the 170-pound weight limit. "Well he was probably about 200 when he took the fight," joked one ringside observer. "So just getting close to 170 was an accomplishment. With one win in the past five years, the world has probably seen the last of Tito.

The best fight of the night came during the undercard, when the maligned Andrew Golota scored a unanimous decision over a feisty Mike Mollo. Mollo charged the physically superior Golota from the opening bell and was effective enough that by the end of the fight Golota's left eye was swollen shut. But Mollo ran out of gas late and Golota score a unanimous decision. With the win, Golota, best known for his affection for directing his punches at Riddick Bowe's groin, may be one more win away from a shot at a heavyweight title. ...

One unofficial count had three pre-main event fights in the stands. Why anyone who paid hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for tickets would do something to get them thrown out is beyond me. ...

Last month I predicted that Floyd Mayweather would choose Oscar de la Hoya as his next opponent for the sole reason that, well, money talks. SI.com has confirmed that Floyd Mayweather Sr. will be training De la Hoya for his tune-up bout in May and will likely remain in the role for the rematch with his son in September. That's going to be one interesting press tour.

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