The sport of boxing is picking up where it left off in historical fashion when two sure-fire Hall of Fame stars collide on the grand stage of Madison Square Garden on January 19 in New York.
Right on the heels of a year in which boxing rose from ashes to riches the bar has been set higher than the crown on Don King’s hair when he promotes sensational Felix Trinidad against ultra talented Roy Jones Jr. in a mega clash on HBO Pay Per View.
While many concur that this is an epic confrontation that could have and should have happened a decade ago, it could not have happened at a more opportune moment for a sport that is on the threshold of reclaiming its portion of the American and global sports fans.
If the sport of football was dying it could not bring back Joe Namath. If baseball was losing its massive appeal it could not reinvent Babe Ruth and likewise pro basketball could not lure back icon Michael Jordan again.
Rock and roll would love to bring back Elvis and the Beatles and what wouldn’t we give to see James Brown spin and split on stage just one more time?
Only in the sport of boxing, which gave us national heroes such as Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, could a name of fame bring out the goose bumps again.
Every time Oscar De La Hoya laces them up, we feel it and the only other fighter outside Mike Tyson who could generate such interest is the punching pride of Cupey Alto, Puerto Rico-Felix Trinidad.
In a sport of stars, Trinidad is and always has been the star of stars. Instant credibility and a brand name that is affixed to this generation of boxing fans.
When he last left us on a whimper in May 2005 after losing a lopsided decision to Winky Wright in Las Vegas, instead of it marking the rise of Wright it left a gaping hole and void that could only be filled by Trinidad.
Stars are like that. In their shining glory they are at most times spectacular and even when they are not it does not translate to the opponent, which desperately quest for what they have.
So, although he has been away for more than two years, the appetite for his presence is as large as it was in his prime.
Forgotten is the knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins who has continued to cash in on it since.
Fresh is the memory of his slugfest kayo of wild man Ricardo Mayorga and his persistent determined victory over De La Hoya, and now he meets Mr. Jones.
Roy Jones Jr., is a fighter who mastered the middleweights to the flight of personal boredom and then dominated the light heavyweight division until there wasn’t a challenge left for him to conquer.
Without hesitation, the stylish and gifted Jones who King once hailed as the “next Muhammad Ali” challenged and defeated WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz on March 1, 2003 and thus became the first middleweight to win the heavyweight championship since Bob Fitzsimmons in 1897. Giving away nearly 30 pounds, he easily out pointed Ruiz with win a one-sided 12-round decision.
It can be debated that the one mistake that Jones made was leaving the heavyweight division to go back down to light heavyweight where he eventually loss twice to nemesis Antonio Tarver and then suffered a devastating knockout to Glen Johnson.
However in July 2007 Jones tested even himself to discover if he still had that something special when he took on an undefeated rising super middleweight Anthony Hanshaw in Biloxi, Mississippi.
All of the critics who once heaped a bundle of praise upon him begged for him to hang up the gloves. The network HBO that had a seemingly unyielding love affair with him turned its back on him.
What Jones still had left was fans throughout the South who loved him unconditionally and as the Gulf Coast region reeled from the devastation of Katrina, it was their favorite son who inspired him in them as they did to him.
Jones displayed flashes of the brilliance that many saw when he clowned James Toney as a middleweight. The laser quick jab, the shuffling footwork and combinations from all angles in winning a majority decision against Hanshaw.
Jones was back for sure, but what he needed was a dance partner to certify his resurgence.
Thus he embarked on a journey to see the King, a man who for more than three decades have promoted over 500 championship fights and has been involved as lead or co-promoter of seven of the 10 largest pay per view events in history. It seem that every time King broke a record it was his own but now he too has something greater to aim for.
With Trinidad as loyal to King as the Queen is to England, he positioned himself to create yet another blockbuster with Jones.
For a star such as Trinidad, there are no such things as tune-ups, so his first fight back which he pledges will not just be a one and done deal is against Jones, a superstar in his own right.
Trinidad is 42-2 with 35 knockouts and Jones is 51-4 with 38 knockouts.
Each has already been on a whirlwind promotional tour, something in the past that would have been unheard of with Jones.
Now, just weeks away they are tuning their tools for a bout for the ages and as the adoring public would have me say it, better late than never.