At his prime Roy Jones Jr. was untouchable. Pound for pound best cleaned out middleweight division and reined supreme as a light heavyweight.Roymade it look easy. We might never see a virtuoso boxer like him again. Unfortunately he is way past his prime. And just as so many other star fighters he doesn’t know when to quit. The lime light of the ring pulls on Roy Jones in the same way narcotic calls after a drug addict.
Even though he has other options, such as a promoter or a color commentator on HBO, Roy Jones Jr can’t seem to leave the ring alone.
Last Saturday inMoscow, forty two year old Jones got brutally knocked out by Dennis Lebedev, a fighter who ten years ago wouldn’t belong in the same ring with Jones. “Everyone keeps talking aboutRoygetting knocked out,” said trainer Shadeed Suluki who was inMoscowwith light heavyweight prospect, Ismayl Sillakh, a fighter promoted by Roy Jones:”Roytook that boy to school.Royreally exposed him. He is not the sameRoy, but he was good enough to really school this boy. He hurt the boy to the body. He shook the boy to the head and was doing well. I thought he was winning the fight as well as one of the officials that was keeping the score had him ahead. Unfortunately last ten second he got hit and that happens some time.”
Unfortunately it happens a lot forRoylately. “Royhas done so much in a game of boxing,” continued coach Suluki: “And at this point of his career I would have to ask why you are doing this?Royhas done everything. I f he retired I would say good. I would like to see him go out. There comes a time when you got to walk away from the game.”
Hopefully he could stick with promoting. He has a fighter worth noting, a former amateur stand out fromUkraine, Ismayl Sillakh. Ironically campaigning at light heavyweight Sillakh was in the ring inMoscowthat nigh as well. He destroyed African prospect Hamza Wandera (12-3-2,11KO) within three rounds. This was the first time Sillakh fought inRussiasince he turned professional and moved toUnited Statesin 2008.
“ He is huge over there,” explained old school, trainer Suluki who has been working with Ismayl in Reseda , California for the past three years:” People really love him, because he is from Ukraine and Ukraine is right next to Russia. He was a great amateur over there, so the Russian people knew of Ismayl and it was his first professional fight, coming back fighting professionally over there. He was really welcomed.”
One of the best boxers to come out ofUkrainein a long time with a stellar amateur record of 302-16, Sillakh won a gold medal at European Olympic Qualifications inItalyin 2008, but instead of going to the Olympics, he decided to turn professional. Twenty six year old Sillakh fought all of his fifteen professional bouts inUnited Statesuntil going toMoscowthis past weekend to face hard hitting African, Hamza Wandera.
“It was a third round knock out,” reported coach Shadeed:” But Ismayl is really special. He had a worthy opponent in front of him. He was no slouch in front of him. He just went in there and happened to do his thing, the thing we have been working on. He was prepared properly and ready and he got him out of there.” With a wealth of international amateur experience behind him and an old school American professional boxing training Sillakh (16-0,13KO’S) has been getting most of his opponents out of there rather quickly. I remember last year in what was supposed to be a stern test against a crafty American veteran, Daniel Judah, Sillakh scored a second round knock out. But it is not his power that made me take a second look at the young prospect. He has all the tools; fluid effortless movement in the ring, offence and defense and ring awareness worthy of a veteran fighter.
“I just want to keep him busy,” said trainer Suluki who talked about plans of having Ismayl back in the ring this summer on Friday Night Fights inOklahoma.
In a way Sillakh’s athleticism and fluid movement reminds me of Roy Jones Jr. Ismayl is likeRoyonly with power.
Could Roy Jones take off his boxing gloves for good and live vicariously through his rising star fighter, Ismayl Sillakh? I hope so.