The Warren light heavyweight lost a decision for the vacant IBC title.
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Roy Jones Jr. winked at the crowd, wiggled his hips and mixed in a few high-steps as he trotted toward his first opponent in nearly a year. There was plenty of show, but no knock-out blow.
The 38-year-old is still entertaining in the ring and he can still win, but the sudden knockout victories for which he was known may be a thing of the past.
Jones took a 12-round, unanimous decision against previously undefeated Anthony Hanshaw Saturday night, capturing the vacant IBC light heavyweight title.
“They say you’ve got to pass the torch? Well, you’ve got to pass it when the time comes and I think my time hasn’t come yet,” Jones said. “I’ve got a little more business I have to clean up.”
The scorecards favored Jones 114-113, 117-110 and 118-109.
It was the second straight victory for Jones, but only the second win in five fights for the former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion.
Gave Jones all he could handle
Hanshaw, 29, a native of Warren who now lives in Massillon, gave Jones all he could handle, although Jones insisted Hanshaw would be a tough opponent for anyone.
“A lot of people say, ‘if you’re going to fight, fight somebody that’s easy.’ I don’t believe in fighting people that are easy. I believe in taking on a challenge,” Jones said. “I was really glad to see Hanshaw had the heart that I thought he had, because this shows you that he’s going to be a problem for some of these guys in the future.”
The decisive moment came in the 11th round, when Jones (51-4) landed a quick right to free himself from the ropes, then staggered Hanshaw with a left-right combination.
Hanshaw (21-1-1) stumbled and fell to his knees after Jones appeared to bump him. The pro-Jones crowd stood and cheered as if they expected the fight to end, but Hanshaw was back up after a few seconds and quickly regained his form for the rest of the round.
Hanshaw thought he won
The crowd rejoiced when Jones’ victory was announced, but Hanshaw thought he was robbed.
“I put the pressure on him. I backed him up all the rounds. He won like two or three rounds,” Hanshaw said. “He’s a legend, but I won the fight.”
In his younger days, Jones was renowned for being so quick he could keep his hands at his sides and dance away from danger before landing a big punch in the blink of an eye.
But in recent years he had struggled to retain that form, and the first round was no different. Jones flailed at air on his first several big punches, then found himself backed against the ropes, fending off a barrage from Hanshaw on four occasions.
But as the bell sounded, Jones sauntered back to his corner unfazed, even winking at the crowd.
Early in the second round, he brought the crowd to its feet when he got off the ropes with a sudden blow to the head that backed away the aggressive Hanshaw. A minute later he landed a left with a thud that enlivened the crowd again, and the fight was quickly on level terms.
The 29-year-old Hanshaw, ranked 11th in the super middleweight division by the IBF, is trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr., who said in the run-up to the fight that he and Hanshaw had “a plan” for Jones in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Jones had predicted he would knock out Hanshaw before the bells ever sounded on those rounds.
Instead, the middle rounds were relatively unspectacular, with Jones spending much of the time backed against the ropes, fending off dozens of close-range punches from Hanshaw. But few seemed well-placed or powerful enough to stop Jones from mockingly wiggling his hips or high-stepping when he danced free.