Roy Jones Jr. took his time—and it wasn't sweet-on Richard Hail
Samuel Johnson said that the prospect of being hanged concentrates the mind wonderfully. Last Thursday, 54 hours before facing undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. in Indianapolis, Richard Hall hung at Conseco Field-house, his mind thoroughly concentrated. "Lots of people say I nuttin'," he said in a soft Jamaican patois. "I'm here to prove it to them." And that he did.
To beat the 41-1 Jones—who had lost just one round in his last seven fights—Hall would have had to perform a minor miracle, or maybe a major one. "I will call the Almighty," he said. Evidently, His number was busy. The only thing miraculous about the bout was the fact that Hall remained standing so long. Even that may have been more a matter of cruelty, or at least capriciousness, on the part of Jones.
Wiggling and high-stepping, the champion had the 13, 211 spectators on their feet for most of the night They gaped at his bolos and windmills and haymakers and double-overhand rights and quintuple lefts. Jones decked Hall twice in Round 1, dazed him in Round 2 and dazzled him seemingly at will until referee Wayne Kelly at last stopped the fight, over Hall's protests, midway through Round 11.
The champ's speed and shadowy elusiveness were far beyond the challenger's earnest but mediocre talents. Hall took a steady and emphatic beating. At times Jones seemed like a sadistic puppeteer, jerking Hall's strings to keep him upright. "I probably could have taken him out earlier, but I didn't carry him," [ones said. "The guy was game."
Though the 28-year-old Hall had 24 victories in 25 fights, his record had been fattened against a series of nonentities, and he had never fought for more than $30,000. The WBA's mandatory challenger (did we mention he's in Don King's stable?) was such a total unknown that the betting line was 100-to-1. Still, the prospect of taking on the world's best prizefighter didn't faze Hall. 'Just because Jones is the best, doesn't mean no one's better," he reasoned. "He doesn't scare me."
The product of a broken home in Kingston and raised by his grandmother in the coastal town of Negril, Hall began boxing as a teenager, and after moving to Florida in 1992, he turned pro. He won his first 17 fights but retired abruptly in June 1996 following a 10th-round TKO by the equally ragged Rocky Gannon. A few months later he unretired and signed with King. "I give Hall more than a puncher's chance," a charitable Jones had said last week. "You've got to respect all your opponents."
Not that Jones showed much for Hall. Toward the end of last Thursday's press conference, he stood up, snapped his fingers and commanded the challenger to join him on the podium for a photo op. Hall obediently complied. Though Jones conceded 4� inches to the 6'3" Hall, he towered over him psychologically.
"You can tell what a fighter feels by his music," said Hall, who climbed through the ropes to the lyrics "Look into my eyes/Tell me what you see/Can you feel my pain/Am I your enemy?" Contrast that with the title of Jones's new rap single: Who Wanna Get Knocked Out? Not Hall. In the end, though, it really wasn't up to him.
Jones in Germany?