Ask Roy Jones Jr. whom he'd like to fight next, and his face falls like a souffl�. The 175-pounder has floated the ideas of moving up to face 247-pound heavyweight king Lennox Lewis and down seven pounds to face IBF middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, whom he defeated as a middleweight in 1993. Yet his biggest money fight may be against fellow light heavy Dariusz Michalczewski, the Polish-born, German-groomed WBO champ.
A slothfully paced brawler, the 32-year-old Michalczewski rarely engages in combat beyond the German border. His multimillion-dollar paydays have less to do with his 42-0 record than with his unpopularity in Germany, where boxing fans tune in and turn out just to jeer him. They still haven't forgiven him for the way he beat a Berliner named Graciano (Rocky) Rocchigiani in 1996, in the first of their two bouts. Rocchigiani landed a left hook just after the referee commanded the two boxers to break from a clinch. Michalczewski crashed to the canvas and was removed from the ring on doctor's orders, winning the fight on disqualification.
Given the pricey purses demanded by both boxers—Michalczewski wants $6 million, Jones, a couple of million more—the bout would almost certainly have to be held in Germany. 'When American fighters go overseas/odd things happen," says Jones, who hasn't boxed abroad since his infamous loss at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. "I'd knock Michalczewski out regardless. But the money has to be right."
A Heavy Challenge
Is Lewis Ready For Samoa?
The most intriguing opponent for 6'5" heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is not Mike Tyson, but a Tyson-shaped, Tyson-sized, Tyson-styled New Zealander once known as the Throwin' Samoan. "Lennox is tailor-made for me," says 5'10" David Tua, the IBF's mandatory challenger. "When he fights someone he is eye-to-eye with, he gets the knockout. I'll be looking straight ahead at his chest, with his chin as a target. His reach will be useless."
Tua (35-1, 0 KOs) has one of the best left hooks and perhaps the best chin in boxing. "I am too strong for Lennox," he says, adding the Tysonesque observation, "if we got in a clinch, I could break his arm with my neck muscles." Four years ago Tua took all of 19 seconds to polish off John Ruiz—now ranked No. 1 by the WBA and the WBC and the fighter slated to face Evander Holyfield on June 10 for the WBA heavyweight title. "It's a shame about John," says Tua. "I wish I'd had more time to get to know him."
Born Tavita Maf Lio Mafaufau Sanerivi Talimatasi, he was taught to box by his dad, convenience store owner Tuavale Lio Mafaufau Sanerivi Talimatasi. "Father used to line up grown men and make me spar with them," Tua recalls. "If they won, he'd reward them with candy, bread or oranges." If they lost? "He'd give them the strap."
Lewis, set to meet Frans Botha on July 15 in London, will be required to fight Tua by the end of November or relinquish his IBF title. "When I beat Lennox, my father will give me a hug and a kiss," Tua says. "If I look really impressive, maybe he'll give me a couple of oranges, too."
Let's Get It On—Again!
Oscar De La Hoya's June 17 match against undefeated Sugar Shane Mosley has boxing fans buzzing, but probably not as much as would a rematch between De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, who outpointed the Golden Boy last September. Here's a look at how some historic and much anticipated, rematches compared with the originals.