He had to be with Jones, who knew almost nothing about boxing. The first day in the gym, July 5, Griffith looked over the goods. He had Jones show him his stance, his jab, his right. "From now on forget everything you thought you knew about boxing," Griffith announced. "You don't know anything. We're gonna start from scratch. From kindergarten. Do you have any vices?"
"I drink a whole lot of beer," said Jones, celebrated among the Cowboys for supposedly having consumed 48 cans of the stuff on a team flight home from Philadelphia to Dallas.
"No more of that," Griffith said.
What Griffith discovered he had was a 6'9", 276-pound man with an 88-inch reach, exceptional power and agility, and extraordinary athletic ability and determination. "The intensity of his interest, the totality of his commitment was startling," Wolf said. Jones gave up beer, ran six miles a day, worked on strength-building equipment twice a week and slowly learned the rudiments of the game—the jab, the right, later the hook, then combinations. He hit the bags and jumped rope. And his weight dropped from 276 to less than 250 (he weighed 255� Saturday). While Wolf and Griffith figured Jones wouldn't be able to fight until early 1980, his progress was so encouraging that they decided to take the Meneses fight. Wolf had the fighter scouted in Mexico and found out that his record was 10-5—at least in those fights that were on record. Meneses is an aggressive young man of 6'2", 204 pounds with a 78-inch reach and a nice hook at the end of it.
It was, financially, the most important athletic event that Jones had ever trained for. "For us, this has all the dimensions of a championship," Wolf said before the bout. "It may be only a debut, but it's a fight in which his market value will be defined for the future. We're very close to basics. A lot of work has gone into the jab, into teaching him to use his reach to his best advantage and into making him an effective offensive fighter. To be marketable, he not only has to be a winner but a destroyer."
"I can't wait to get this one behind me," said Jones.
He almost ended up one behind. And he was embarrassed at having got tagged. Jones looked bewildered, as would anyone in his first fight. Meneses ran when Wolf thought he would attack, and Jones was lost, following Meneses around the ring instead of cutting it off. He moved like a robot, chugging mechanically after his man. He telegraphed his right. He forgot to jab, even with Griffith yelling from the corner, "Jab.... Get off first.... Jab!" And then he dropped his right when he did jab, opening himself up for the hook. Thus he took one in the ear. Jones says he wasn't hurt, but Basilico says you should have seen his eyes. But this was, of course, Jones' first time out, and he should benefit from it. He has everything to learn and nothing to forget. The sixth round was the harshest lesson of all. In the sweet science, fear of another man's hands is the beginning of wisdom.