The Untold Boxing Journey Of A Living Legend: Facing Mike Tyson’S “Horse Kick” Punch At 54 And Still Standing Strong


That victory had fans labelling Jones the greatest natural talent boxing had ever seen and put him in the debate for the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport’s history.

The 54-year-old RJJ lost to former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, a grim outcome considering Jones’ long pro career looked to have finally, belatedly, ended in 2018.

By that point the American boxer nicknamed ‘Superman’ for his otherworldly speed, skills and reflexes had looked painfully human for many years.

What makes his 2023 return even more depressing is that it comes two decades after the night in March 2003 when Jones made history by becoming the first ex-middleweight champion in more than 100 years to win part of the world heavyweight title.

The flashy, flamboyant Jones fought Mike Tyson in a hugely lucrative 2020 showdown which pitted that generation’s most famous heavyweight vs the most gifted boxer. But that was an exhibition across two-minute rounds rather than a genuine prizefight.


Considering the punishment Jones took at the end of his career, being brutally knocked out by boxers who wouldn’t have been able to lay a glove on him in his prime, it is startling to recall just how highly he was rated after his win against Ruiz.

Following that masterclass against a boxer who outweighed him by 33lb on the scales, Jones’ record was 48-1 (38 KOs). And that lone defeat was a disqualification loss against Montell Griffin that Roy avenged with a KO1 in their rematch.

“He is boxing’s [Michael] Jordan,” summed up boxing journalist Steve Kim after the Ruiz win. ESPN’s Max Kellerman labelled Jones: “The most dominant fighter who ever lived,” pointing out that he had hardly lost any rounds throughout his pro career, let alone fights.

What makes Jones’ unanimous decision win over Ruiz so remarkable was that he wasn’t even a big light-heavyweight, the division he leapt up from to complete his smash-and-grab heavyweight mission.


Jones had won world titles at 160lb and 168lb, before becoming undisputed champion at 175lb. He was untouchable at his best, knocking out one opponent – Glen Kelly – with a punch thrown from the starting point of both hands behind his back.


Ruiz was not a spectacular heavyweight champion. Jones was actually more impressed by the 50-something Tyson’s power after their exhibition, claiming: “First time that dude [Tyson] hit me in the chest, it felt like a horse kicked me in the chest – I was like: ‘Gosh!’ I couldn’t believe he could still hit so hard.”


However, Ruiz had walked away from a trilogy against Evander Holyfield with the WBA belt. And after his defeat by Jones, ‘The Quietman’ would rebound to win the title back, beating solid contenders like Hasim Rahman and Andrew Golota.

So the tough, awkward Ruiz should not have been a walkover for any boxer jumping two weight classes in order to challenge him. Unless that boxer had the talent of Roy Jones.

In front of a crowd that included a 26-year-old Floyd Mayweather and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Jones made it all look alarmingly easy.

Ruiz clearly had a strength advantage in clinches, but it was actually Jones who looked like the puncher. Landing lightning hooks, uppercuts and jabs – a punch Jones often ignored but which he utilised on this night – he repeatedly caught Ruiz as he waded forward.

In the fourth round, Ruiz looked stunned when Jones bloodied his nose. In the end, the scorecards of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 were only remotely close because Jones eased off on his way to victory.


Admittedly, Jones had not beaten the no.1 heavyweight in the world. That was still Lennox Lewis in March 2003 and there was no way a 5ft 11in Jones, who weighed less than 13 stone at his best, was going to take on a giant like Lewis.

Jones’ career peaked 20 years ago when he defeated Ruiz. But the surprisingly fun, unofficial draw with Tyson gave him another perfect opportunity to hang up the gloves for good. Unfortunately, Roy Jones fights on against Pettis.

Those who loved seeing him at his best will probably not be seeking it out. If they do, they will be watching through their fingers.


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