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Jones Jr. says The Harv is boxing's best kept secret

April 27, 2012
By PAUL EDGAR ( , The Review

CHESTER - Roy Jones Jr. is on a mission to save the sport he loves.

In recent years, boxing has been marred by scandals and controversies that has diluted a fan base that was once among the country's strongest.

Jones Jr. is doing his part to make sure those fans come back.

Article Photos

Boxer Roy Jones Jr.

"First off, I love boxing," Jones Jr. told The Review by phone last week. "I want to do what I can to save the sport, do things to make the sport better. It used to be our top sport. Now, people don't even know who the heavyweight champ is. That's bad for boxing."

Part of Jones Jr.'s plan was to throw his hat into the promotional ring.

On Saturday, Jones Jr., along with TNT Promotions, will present "Live Championship Boxing" at The Harv in what will mark the first fight card at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in nearly four years.

Fact Box

Roy Jones Jr. File

* Won silver medal in 1988 Olympics after much-disputed decision in gold medal match

* Made professional debut on May 6, 1984, scoring a second-round TKO against Ricky Randall

* Won first title (IBF middleweight) in 1994 by beating Thomas Tate

* Held a record seven belts at the same time as light heavyweight (WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO, NABF, WBF, IBA)

* Defeated John Ruiz on March 1, 2003 to claim WBA heavyweight title

* Only boxer in history to start career at junior middleweight and go on to win heavyweight title

* Earned wins in his career over notable opponents: Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Vinny Pazienza, Antonio Tarver and Felix Trinidad

* Named "Fighter of the Decade" for the 1990s by the Boxing Writers Association of America

* Rejoined HBO Sports in 2001 as permanent expert analyst on HBO Boxing After Dark series

* In 2001, Jones released "Round One: The Album," a rap CD

* Last fight was Dec. 10, 2011, a unanimous decision win over Max Alexander

* Holds many of his training camps in California, Pa., which is about one hour south of Pittsburgh

* Turned 43 years old on January 16

"You've got to start out on a lower level," Jones Jr. said. "I help pick out the fighters and the fights, the locations. I try to help the sport in any way I can."

Jones Jr. and his team approached Mountaineer executives recently about bringing boxing back to Mountaineer. The former pound-for-pound king said he believes The Harv is a perfect venue for boxing.

"I think it's one of the best kept secrets in boxing," he said. "It's the perfect place to watch boxing. It's been underused. When I heard that it wasn't being used, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity."

Mountaineer General Manager Chris Kern said The Harv was built with boxing in mind.

"Originally, it was designed and constructed as a multipurpose venue," Kern said. "But mainly, it was built for two things: concerts and boxing. We feel like it's a great place to do either of those things."

When Jones Jr. was asked if he would be interested in promoting future fights at The Harv, he quickly answered, "You better believe it."

The fight card for Saturday features, among others, up-and-coming Youngstown boxer Jake Giuriceo (15-0-1, 3 KO), Butler, Pa. native Brian Minto (35-5, 22 KO) who previously challenged for the heavyweight title, and 20-year-old prospect Joel Diaz Jr. (8-0, 7 KO) who is coming off an impressive nationally televised performance on Showtime in Jan.

Jones Jr. said he will be in attendance for Saturday's fights which are scheduled for a first bell of 7:30 p.m.

Being a promoter and commentator (he rejoined HBO Sports in 2001 as an analyst on the HBO Boxing After Dark series) isn't the only way Jones Jr. expects to have an impact on the sport, however.

The 43-year-old said he isn't done with his work inside the ropes yet.

"I'm focused on winning the cruiserweight title right now," he said.

His last fight was a unanimous decision victory over Max Alexander (15-6-2, 2 KO) in Dec. of last year. If Jones Jr. can capture a cruiserweight belt, it will mark the fifth division in which he was champion (middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight).

The current title holders at 200 pounds include WBA-Guillermo Jones (38-3-2, 30 KO), WBC-Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (46-2-1, 33 KO), IBF-Yoan Pablo Hernandez (26-1, 13 KO) and WBO-Marco Huck (34-2, 25 KO).

"I'll get that title, then I'll be done," he said.



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