After the appalling decision in Seoul, Roy Sr. wondered how it would affect his son. "I wished," he said, "I could feel all the pain for him. I know how big a disappointment it was, how it brought the tears. But I know he will come out of it, even though his heart is not back into fighting yet. When you're young it's easy to get trapped by a trauma. But I've watched Roy Jr. deal with fears. Like when he first rode a horse. And he will deal with this situation. I am sure he'll pursue a boxing career."
So are a lot of other people. That "defeat" in Seoul has actually increased Jones's marketability, which was formidable. He was already dubbed Sugar, the sobriquet for all light-footed, smooth-talking, telegenic boxers, FUTURE APPEARS SWEET FOR LITTLE SUGAR a Pensacola News Journal headline had forecast in 1984 after Jones had won a gold medal at the U.S. Junior Olympics in Saginaw, Mich. The headline seemed even more fitting when he won national Golden Gloves titles two years in a row.
Since the Seoul Games, the telephone at the little home on Cornelius Lane in north Pensacola has rarely been silent. "I've heard from them all," Roy Sr. says. "[Bob] Arum, [Don] King, [Butch] Lewis, as well as all sorts of lawyers who have nothing to do with boxing and, yes, I've had direct contact with Sugar Ray Leonard and his people. But as of this time he hasn't decided to engage in a contract with anybody."
Leonard and his adviser Mike Trainer clearly have the upper hand in the race to sign Jones to a contract. "It would be very hard to come up with anybody who hasn't approached him," says Trainer. "Anybody in the fight game would love to represent him. Roy is a future world champion, no question. It's just a matter of figuring out what weight division he'll be in. We're giving him time, and letting him listen to everybody; then we'll go back to him."
"I know about the millions of dollars I could make," Jones says stubbornly. "But it's not just the money, it's the style, the whole thing about my life changing if I turn professional. I don't know if I could stand the pressures of that life—guessing who to trust, who to get along with. Look at Tyson. I don't want to get bored with life, like Tyson. Didn't I see somewhere that he didn't have fun unless he was in the ring, fighting? I don't want to be like that. I want to go fishing and ride horses.
"You can't do what you want," he says. "I love to play basketball, and they'd say, 'Hey, you can't play basketball no more, you're taking a risk.' I'd do anything to play basketball. I know I'm not tall [5'10�"] and I only got a little talent, but I want to play."
Suddenly, for the first time Jones grins broadly. And from the boxing trophies that fill the living room he takes a small plaque that honors him as a member of the Pensacola Junior College team that won last year's intramural basketball championship.
"So this is why I am not in a happy stage now. If I turn pro maybe I won't be able to do all these things anymore, the way I did last year."
It doesn't seem, though, that the world is going to allow Jones to go on catching speckled trout off Pensacola Bay Bridge, or riding horses, or even staying on at Pensacola J.C., where he hopes to study business management. Late last month, at a banquet in Los Angeles, Jones was handed yet another plaque, the World Boxing Hall of Fame President's Award. It read ROY JONES, JR., 1988 OLYMPIC BOXING SILVER MEDALIST. A GOLD MEDALIST TO ALL THE BOXING WORLD. He received a standing ovation.
Waiting for Jones when he returned home from L.A. was a message from WALA-TV in Mobile, Ala., just across the state line from Pensacola. The station asked to borrow his silver medal to make a mold for a gold one, which would then be presented to the young fighter. That sort of pressure, having to rise to others' expectations, is difficult to shrug off.