Fighting Talk: Time for legend Jones to retire

Enzo Maccarinelli, right, hits a punch to Roy Jones Jr. to knock him down during their non-title cruiserweight bout
Enzo Maccarinelli, right, hits a punch to Roy Jones Jr. to knock him down during their non-title cruiserweight bout

While Luke Blackledge enjoyed the Bad Intentions bill at the O2 in London on Saturday night, his thoughts turned to ring legend Roy Jones Junior.

The former four-weight World champion – once believed to be the best pound for pound fighter in the business – was knocked out by Welsh boxer Enzo Maccarinelli in the fourth round of a non-title cruiserweight fight in Moscow.

Jones, now 46, took on a man nine years his junior, and after an evenly-matched opening three rounds, Maccarinelli stepped up the pressure and floored Jones.

Jones beat the count, but failed to recover, and a Maccarinelli uppercut put him down again to secure victory.

Jones had won his last eight bouts, but Blackledge hopes he doesn’t damage his legacy further, joining calls for him to retire.

Blackledge said: “I was absolutely gutted for him.

He doesn’t want to pack it in, but his team need to be telling him that enough is enough

Luke Blackledge

“He has the wrong people around him, telling him rubbish. He shouldn’t be fighting now.

“People look at him as one of the best-ever fighters, and he is going to ruin his reputation, fighting boxers he could have beaten with one hand 10 years ago.

“It’s not about the money with him, he’s a fighter, and that’s all he knows.

“He doesn’t want to pack it in, but his team need to be telling him that enough is enough.”

While Jones was in action in Russia, Blackledge was also keeping tabs on Olympic champion Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight showdown with Dillian Whyte in London.

Huge prospect Joshua was rocked by Whyte in the second round, and was taken further than he had been before, going out to the seventh round, before settling a score after an defeat in the amateurs in style, with a brutal uppercut knocking out his trash-talking rival.

Joshua added the British title belt to his Commonwealth strap, and Blackledge, like many observers, is excited about his future: “He boxed really well, he made a big step up and did the business.

“It was good experience for him, and he has a massive future, everyone in boxing is raving about him and it’s easy to see why.

“I think it would be bit too early for him to take on Tyson Fury next year, there is no rush for him – Fury would be a difficult opponent.

“Joshua is a beast, but Fury is more experienced and would probably beat him at the moment.

“Joshua is still a baby, he’s got the Commonwealth belt and now has the British title, so he should just continue as he is doing.”

Chris Eubank Junior was similarly impressive as the 26-year-old became mandatory challenger to Daniel Jacobs’ WBA middleweight title by earning a seventh-round stoppage of Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan.

Commonwealth super-middleweight champion Blackledge said: “He looks to have improved a lot.

“He has real dedication – he lives and sleeps boxing and has a good team around him.

“I was on the same bill when he made his debut at Event City four years ago, and he didn’t look all that, but he has come on leaps and bounds since then.

“He has good connections obviously, with his dad, sponsorships and a lot of help – he’s not had to do it the hard way, but he is dedicated.”

Blackledge was as surprised by Luke Campbell’s shock points defeat to Yvan Mendy at the O2 as the rest of the boxing world, but feels it could be a good lesson: “I was disappointed in Campbell, to be honest, everyone is expecting big things of him.

“It was a hard fight for him, but he shouldn’t be getting beat.

“But a loss doesn’t do all that much damage – look at Martin Murray, he’s had three defeats.”

Blackledge himself will be back in action in the New Year after being forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout at Winter Gardens last weekend with an eye infection.