To say that Jones relied "totally
" on athleticism and couldn't beat "anyone
" if he lost five percent of this is absolute dogshit, and betrays a complete lack of understanding of Roy Jones as a boxer, and of boxing in general. I mean, there is so much wrong with this statement it's difficult to know where to start...
- Jones should have been the Olympic gold medal winner in '88, so he had the pedigree of a good boxer. Silver should have been gold, he had obviously learned his trade in the amateurs, and had a good grounding in the fundamentals
- You don't soundly defeat guys of the skill level of Hopkins and Toney simply by being fast. Those guys beat fighters faster than them in their careers. Many exceptionally fast fighters have flopped at the top level. Amir Khan is like lightning, but he'll never get anywhere near Jones' level because he doesn't have the skills and technique that Jones did. Same with Zab Judah. There are countless examples of this, too many to mention really. You need the boxing skills and punching technique to go with the athleticism, otherwise you'll get worked out, timed, picked apart, and outclassed. That never happened with Jones, because he was a very shrewd, tricky fighter, and had excellent technique in that he could punch with power and accuracy to the head or body with equal ease. That isn't just speed. It's technique, which is learned, not natural.
- Jones could fight with his back on the ropes, and frequently did so. It is not possible to do this if you don't grasp the fundamentals of defence, counterpunching, and inside fighting. This is not athleticism. This is knowing the game, and having the skills to pull it off.
Two of your points are what I'd consider direct "fails":
Roy Jones deserved the decision over Antonio Tarver in their first fight, so that shoots down that theory.
Burning off the muscle to get back down to 175 after weighing in at 193 against Ruiz fucked Jones up physically, for the long-term. The Tarver fight was the first time we saw Jones a shadow of his former self in a physical sense, in that fight he just didn't have the strength in his legs to dance round Tarver, and spent large portions of the fight on the ropes or gutting it out in centre-ring. Antonio Tarver was a tall, long, smart, determined, powerful, top-class opponent, and a physically deplered Jones still outfought him over 12 rounds. He was way more than 5% below his previous physical best, and because his punch resilience was not tested by a huge clean shot as it was in the subsequent Tarver and Johnson fights, he won. Your point is wrong.
'Timing' is not a physical quality. You can't attribute someone having great timing down to athleticism, it ain't that. Reflexes, speed, power, these are physical qualities. Timing isn't. Timing is a skill. You can have the most physically awesome fighter in history, but if he doesn't understand the nuances of striking, he won't be able to work his opponent's attack out, time him, and choose the right moment to strike back with the right punch. A slow fighter can have great timing. A featherfisted bastard can have great timing. Timing in boxing is skill, not athleticism, so if you say Jones had superhuman timing, you are admitting he has a high-level skill.
I will conclude by quoting an ATG fighter, the great Mike McCallum, who named Roy Jones as the smartest fighter he ever faced (and Mike faced James Toney three times, Donald Curry, Sumbu Kalambay twice, Herol Graham, Michael Watson, Milton McCrory, Julian Jackson, Steve Collins, etc...)
Athleticism does not equal being a more intelligent boxer than Toney, Kalambay or Curry. Jones clearly possessed much more than just that. The collapse in his punch resistance and stamina killed his career, not his lack of skills once he couldn't dance for 12 rounds anymore.