Considered to be one of the best boxers of all time, Roy Jones Jr made his mark on the sport when he became the only fighter is history to start his career at light middleweight and go on to claim the heavyweight title. Over the course of his legendary career he won world titles in four weight classes and beat some of the era’s greatest names including Bernard Hopkins, James Toney and Antonio Tarver. Now, in his 48th year, his career still continues at a lesser level with him knocking out Bobby Gunn earlier this year. However, we throw it back to 1998 when Jones was at the peak of his powers.
Before the fight
In early 1998 Jones relinquished his WBC light heavyweight title as he planned to move up to conquer the heavyweight division. However, he changed his mind about the move and set his sights on the Olympic silver medallist and former unified WBA, IBF and lineal light heavyweight champion Virgil Hill. The contest would be a non-title fight with a weight limit of 177.5lbs. Jones had been out of the ring for nine months, but Hill had been out for a month longer.
Hill came to the ring with a record of 43-2, with his two losses coming by decision to legendary fighters Tommy Hearns and Dariusz Michalczewski. Roy Jones was the slightly smaller man and held a professional record of 35-1, his one defeat coming by way of disqualification had been avenged in his previous bout. Jones was the 6-1 betting favourite.
Round one – Hill attempted to establish the jab, aiming for the body early, but Jones was in his typical style timing good lead right hands and countering when Hill missed his jabs. Jones lead left hook drew a crowd reaction, but Hill responded with a left right combination. Jones began to throw more and drew huge crowd reactions as the round came to a close. 10-9 Jones.
Round two – Hill again looked to jab to the body, but Jones was trying to get his right hand more involved. Roy landed a sharp left hook and a hard right hand as Hill gambled to reach him. Jones was mastering the distance and seemingly landing at will with right hands over the top of Hill’s jab and lead left hooks. 10-9 Jones.
Round three – Once again Hill looked to jab whereas Jones was content with countering. When Hill tried to throw a right hand, Jones responded with a good combination. Jones was now landing shots at impressive angles and was using his superior speed to tag Hill. However, Hill was still a live opponent in the fight and was not prepared to go quietly as he continued to walk Jones down, in an attempt to find range. Jones looked to load up and land hard shots to end the round, but didn’t manage to land. 10-9 Jones.
Round four – Hill was struggling to land his jab now, but was still giving Jones something to think about. Hill rallied landing multiple jabs on Jones, but seemingly from nowhere Jones landed a sickening lightning quick body shot with his right hand. Hill fell to the canvas writhing in agony and there was no doubt that the fight was over. It was the first knockout loss in Hill’s career and he walked away with a broken rib.
After the fight
Roy Jones would continue his winning ways and would go on to take the heavyweight title from John Ruiz in 2003. This would make him the first middleweight champion to win the heavyweight championship in 106 years and cement his name in boxing folk lore.
Virgil Hill would rebuild at cruiserweight and win the WBA world title twice in the years 2000 and 2006. He was inducted into the international boxing hall of fame in 2013, making Roy's victory all the more impressive. Although most of the boxing world remember him for this famous knockout loss...
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