With its soaring ceilings and dizzying spaciousness, Radio City Music Hall is a shrine to showbigness. The mammoth stage—144 feet wide and 67 feet deep—could easily accommodate a reenactment of the Battle of Midway. It's almost large enough to contain the ego of Roy Jones Jr., the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world.
Jones made ring and theatrical history last Saturday, headlining the first fight card ever at the New York City landmark. Despite a recently fractured left wrist that he didn't reveal until after the fight—an injury that pretty much limited him to right leads and counters—he walloped challenger David Telesco at will and won all 12 rounds on the cards of all three judges.
"When you look at Telesco, it's like, why even waste your time?" Jones had said of the 12-1 underdog last week. "He's getting paid to play the lottery. He wants to land that one big shot and hope he'll get lucky."
To date, no opponent has landed that one big shot against the 41-1 Jones, who turned 31 on Sunday. "Roy's greatness hasn't been tested," says promoter Murad Muhammad. "It's a greatness made from the ingredients of other greats: Sugar from Ray Robinson, salt from Joe Louis, yeast from Muhammad Ali. Roy stirred those ingredients together and became the Cake." He's arguably boxing's best pound-for-pound cake.
The champ's cakewalk through Radio City was as elaborately choreographed as any Christmas Spectacular. An hour before his bout he appeared onstage in tear-away tails and cancanned with a chorus line of Rockettes, whose hooded red robes and six-ounce gloves added new dimensions to kickboxing.
Even more lavish was Jones's ring entrance. With the house lights dimmed and the sellout crowd of 5,923 shimmying to the bass-heavy strains of Wu-Tang Clan, a spotlight trained on Jones shadowboxing on a balcony high above the audience. Then he and his posse—rappers Red Man and Method Man—hip-hopped down a staircase to the ring, which had been set up on the stage and in which the challenger had been waiting antsily for several minutes.
For more than a year Telesco had pestered Jones for a title shot. He had shown up at the champ's bouts and press conferences demanding, with signs and taunts, that Jones fight him. Yet in the movie palace that premiered King Kong, Telesco went as limp as Fay Wray had in the ape's mitt. Telesco's punches, launched tentatively and from long range, rarely landed. The few that did had no sting.
Far faster and far more elusive, Jones outboxed, outhit and outthought him. Having broken his left wrist in a motorcycle accident in late December—an injury he concealed from officials—Jones threw hooks judiciously. "Everybody told me, don't fight this fight," he said afterward. "I only had one hand. If I had had two, I would have knocked him out easily."
Jones had his best chance in Round 5. Standing with his back to a ring post, he beckoned his opponent to come and get him. Hesitantly, Telesco did, only to get sledgehammered. Unable to parry Jones's hand speed, he retreated to mid-ring, where Jones rained rights on his torso.
Over the final rounds the only assault Telesco attempted was verbal. Battered and bruised, he snapped, "You're s—-. You can't take me down." In the midst of another beating, Telesco asked Jones if he had ever been to prison. "I told him no," Jones said, "and that I didn't plan on going."