Originally created 03/03/03

Some weighty questions for new heavyweight champ



LAS VEGAS -- Roy Jones Jr. wants some time to enjoy being a heavyweight champion of sorts. After that, he's got some weighty questions to answer.

Will he risk staying a heavyweight to fight the likes of Chris Byrd, Mike Tyson or even Lennox Lewis? Will he be a one-hit wonder and return to the light heavyweight ranks?

Or will he decide that enough is enough now that he became part of boxing history.

"It's going to take a lot of money for me to even talk about fighting anybody else," Jones said. "For all I know, I might retire."

After joining Michael Spinks as the only light heavyweights to win the heavyweight title, Jones suddenly has a lot of options.

His win Saturday night over a surprisingly outclassed John Ruiz didn't just earn him $10 million and the gaudy WBA belt he held over his head afterward. It also had people talking with excitement about Jones for the first time in years.

"Hopefully, now Roy is thinking, 'This heavyweight stuff is easy,"' said Byrd, the IBF champion who would like nothing more than a lucrative fight with Jones.

It certainly looked easy at times when Jones stood flat-footed and outpunched Ruiz in a fight that wasn't always as entertaining as it was historic.

Ruiz had been a suspect champion at best, in a division still ruled by WBC champ Lewis. And, against a fighter many consider the best pound-for-pound boxer in the game, he looked befuddled.

Jones won eight rounds on one scorecard, nine on a second and 10 on a third, though he never came close to putting Ruiz down in a bout fought mostly at a strategic distance.

"There's nothing wrong with John Ruiz's style," Jones said. "He's just a little slower than me, and I kind of outthought him."

Jones bulked up to 193 pounds at Thursday's weigh-in - and was 199 in his dressing room before the fight - while Ruiz had dropped from 226 pounds on Thursday to 224 in his dressing room.

Jones not only looked the part of a heavyweight, but he acted like one, too. Instead of dancing and moving about the ring, he spent most of the fight throwing jabs and left hooks at Ruiz while standing in front of him in the center of the ring.

Ruiz landed a good right hand in an action-filled first round, but his punching slowed and he landed an average of less than seven punches a round for the entire fight.

"He could have hit me 100 more times. I wasn't going away," Jones said. "Then he ran into one of mine, and I touched him, and he was like, 'That's why them guys be going down!"'

Ruiz had taken a big gamble to fight Jones, risking his title and not getting a lot in return. While Jones made $10 million, Ruiz was working off of profits from pay-per-view buys and the best guess was he might make $2 million or he might make nothing.

Ruiz went to the hospital for treatment of a possible broken nose afterward. In the ring immediately after the fight, he blamed referee Jay Nady for taking his game plan away by not allowing him to punch on the break.

Later, though, he alluded to some personal problems, too.

"I've got to go back and regroup and get my personal life in order," Ruiz said. "I've got to decide whether I keep boxing or hang up the gloves."

The 34-year-old Jones has that decision, too, though it's most likely he'll keep fighting. Jones has now won titles as a middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.

Jones picked Ruiz for his biggest challenge because he was the most beatable of the heavyweight champions. Jones vs. Byrd would be an attractive match and one promoter Don King desperately wants to make, but the other top heavyweights probably are too big and hit too hard for Jones to realistically consider.

"He might go back to light heavyweight. He said this was an experiment," said Kery Davis, a boxing executive at HBO, which promotes Jones. "He wanted a big fight and he got it. We're not going to push Roy to fight a heavyweight if his body can't handle it."

An unmarked Jones was enjoying the moment too much at the postfight press conference to dwell much on his future. Not only was he the second light heavyweight to win the title, he was the first former middleweight champion to win it since Bob Fitzsimmons in 1897.

"It's bigger than me. I wanted to do something great for the sport of boxing," Jones said. "C'mon, baby. One hundred years? It's time for somebody else to do that."

Still, he allowed himself to think about the improbable and a fight with Tyson.

"It'd cost a lot of money," Jones said.