Biloxi, Miss. – Established boxing networks, its dot COM Internet scribes and sports journalists turned their back on Roy Jones. Jr. after the legendary fighter lost two consecutive fights by stunning knockouts.
They continued to write him off as being old, stale news when he went the distance against a no-name opponent in obscure Idaho more than a year ago.
Ironically, many in this region felt the same neglect from America when Katrina devastated their lives, uplifted their homes and crushed their schools, churches, hospitals, hotels, gas stations while leaving long stretches of Highway 90 resembling a ghost town.
Many of the residents were relocated to Houston and others fled to nearby Mobile to patch up their lives amid the reckless debris of Katrina in 2005.
For their favorite son from nearby Pensacola, Florida, he had some patching up to do with his boxing life as well.
After all, this is home for Roy Jones Jr. This is where when no one else would embrace him; he could come and get greeted with hugs and kisses.
So, on a night when his former employer HBO decided they would have nothing to do with him, televising three bouts from various locations throughout the nation, Jones turned to promoter Mural Muhammad.
Muhammad, much like the Gulf Coast and its favorite son, is considered by an ill blown wind by the establishment.
It was Muhammad who convinced Jones that he should take his fight with Anthony Hanshaw to inDemand Pay Per View, the only other television entity that would have them.
Even the executives at inDemand were skeptical of what to expect from Jones Jr., after all they too are in the business of positive financial results.
Jones Jr. faced his stiffest challenge yet in the ring, especially at the past your prime age of 38; he was meeting an undefeated opponent who had not lost in 22 fights and is considered by many to be a rising star in the sport.
When the opening bell sounded at the Gulf Coast Coliseum, which too had been flooded by Katrina, Hanshaw stormed after Jones and drove him into the ropes where he began pummeling him with wicked lefts and rights. The crowd of more than 8,000 moaned, as their hero appeared defenseless and hopeless.
But much like their spirit, Jones became relentless, ignoring the logic of the naysayers and defining boxing wisdom which cast him among the over the hill gang. Ignited by the crowd, he came back with a flurry of his own.
Admittingly, many of Jones Jr. shots were way off the target, but as the fight progressed, that too would change.
Returning was the pulverizing body shots that weakened his opponent. Returning was the razor quick right hand leads, equally sharp hooks, the shuffling of the feet and winks for the crowd.
By the 11th round, he put Hanshaw on the canvas and went on to coast to a unanimous decision much to the delight of the hometown fans.
Among those cheering for Jones Jr. was Chicago Bulls star P.J. Brown, former Picayune High School and NBA player Jonathan Bender and former New Orleans Saints tackle William Roaf.
It was a time for joy for the Gulf. Their favorite son was back and soon, so will they. It was the most appropriate setting for the most necessary results.
Jones Jr. had added his fifth world championship belt to his resume (the IBC light heavyweight crown), but most importantly he served notice to the boxing establishment.
One, that he does not need them to made decisions for him; Two, that they made a huge mistake picking Gatti over him; and Three, that he’s still a force that must be reckoned with. Ya Heard Me!