Known for his speed, his strength and his in-ring attitude, Roy Jones Jr. revolutionized the sport of boxing during his illustrious career. Still very much in the mix despite his 48 years of age, the Pensacola, FL native has been helping train Montreal boxer Jean Pascal for several years. With Boxemania making its way to the Bell Centre's squared circle on Saturday, the future Hall of Famer sat down with canadiens.com to talk about Montreal's place on the boxing scene and, of course, a little bit of hockey.
Montreal is obviously a hockey city, but as someone who's been in town a few times through the years, what do you think of its place in the boxing world?
ROY JONES JR: Montreal has done a wonderful job through the years. It's growing as a boxing city and becoming one of the biggest in the sport, especially with the emergence of some great Canadian fighters, like Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute, Adonis Stevenson, and David Lemieux. People have always loved boxing here and they've brought some big fights here, but now they have some home-grown fighters actually competing in front of their fans, which makes it even better.
How does the Bell Centre crowd compare to ones at major events in Las Vegas?
RJ: I love the crowds and the enthusiasm here. Fans love the fights here and that's the most important thing to me.
Did you enjoy celebrating your birthday in town a few years ago while you were here for the Jean Pascal/Lucian Bute bout? Is there a place you hit up every time you're back in Montreal?
RJ: I sure did. I always enjoy myself in Montreal. My only go-to place here was the pool hall with [Pascal's former trainer] Russ Anber. (laughs)
We've seen you dazzle your opponents through the years with your speed and your strength in the ring. Would we see similar flare if we gave you a hockey stick and some skates?
RJ: Yeah, I would do the same. I'd have to learn how to skate first, but I'd be the same... it would have to be on roller-blades, though! Not on the ice. (laughs)
What do you think of fighting in hockey?
RJ: I just don't like when guys hit each other with their sticks or stuff like that. Do it man-to-man like they used to or if you don't want to do it, just decline the fight. If you want to do it, do it with your fists and with no stick. That's part of the game. That's what makes it so good.
You've been working with Jean Pascal, who has said many times that you were his idol. What kind of student is he?
RJ: I love him to death. I love the fact that he idolized me and wanted to be what I was. I had high standards during my career and he wants the same thing. I appreciate it and I love helping him to try and get to the same level. I'm very enthusiastic in doing it because he still wants to learn. He's a perfect student. I come here, I show him things and when I come back, he knows how to do them. I'm all done after that. He truly listens and learns what I'm trying to teach him.
For many years, you've been considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. If you had been in the same weight class, who would have won a fight between you and the former pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr?
RJ: I would've beaten him. Without a doubt, without a question. It's because of his style. People have to understand, he fights the same way that James Toney fought, but he's not as powerful as James Toney. So if James couldn't beat me, how could Floyd do differently? He's going to try to land one or two punches at a time, but I was a better defensive fighter than he was because I used my feet pretty fast. He wouldn't hit me with his one-two combinations and he wasn't powerful, so how would he beat me?
You've had an illustrious career, accomplishing pretty much everything that could be done. What keeps you going at age 48? Is fighting into your 50's like Bernard Hopkins a goal of yours?
RJ: I don't know if I'm going to go until 50, but I still have the same motivation every day to go to the gym. I still feel good, that's the main thing. The biggest thing is if my body can hold up. If it can, then I'm good. If it can't, then it will be time to get out.
Twenty years ago, hours before defending your belt against another former Montreal boxer, Eric Lucas, you played in a semi-pro basketball game in the afternoon. How did you do it?
RJ: It was easy for me to do it. I was used to it. But on top of it now, I'm trying to do it all in a different way: commentate on TV, work a corner, and fight the same night. And possibly co-promote the show. (laughs)
As a trainer nowadays, let's say Jean wanted to do the same thing. What would you say?
RJ: Of course. I wouldn't allow him to do it unless he had been doing it throughout his training camp, though. You have to train and prepare for it in advance. You can't do it if you weren't prepared to do it. You have to prepare your body for it. You can't go out and do something you're not used to doing.
MMA has been growing in popularity at the expense of boxing. Do you think it's a tendency that will change? How can boxing regain its spot at the top?
RJ: Boxing is going keep its spot. What determines whether a sport is at the top or not is the way we promote this game. MMA promotes their game so much that everybody is familiar with all the guys who are participating. With boxing, TV is getting out of it so people are not familiar with the combatants anymore. They're not nearly as familiar with the stories and the backgrounds of the combatants as they are with MMA. That's why MMA is so much bigger than boxing. I love both sports, I can't lie. I think they do a wonderful job promoting it.
To score tickets to Saturday's Boxemania event at the Bell Centre, click HERE.