Jones-Hopkins II resurfaces, vanishes again

Sixteen years have passed since Roy Jones Jr. won a ho-hum yet clear unanimous decision against Bernard Hopkins to claim the middleweight belt vacated by James Toney when he moved up to super middleweight.

It wasn't a memorable fight, as Jones claimed a boring victory that all three judges scored 116-112. As big as Jones and Hopkins would both become, the fight wasn't the mega-event it might have been a decade later. Instead, they fought outdoors in the rain on May 22, 1993, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on the undercard of Riddick Bowe's heavyweight championship defense against Jesse Ferguson.

Even so, all these years later Jones-Hopkins still is a front-and-center topic as the two stars approach the finish line of obvious Hall of Fame careers. The fight is always there as part of the back-and-forth Jones and Hopkins have waged for most of this decade whenever talk of a rematch comes up, even 16 years later.

Keep in mind, even though it seemingly took forever for a Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns rematch to come off, only eight years passed between their first and second fights.

Since Hopkins knocked out Felix Trinidad to become undisputed middleweight champion in late 2001, a rematch with Jones has been talked about regularly.

Had Trinidad beaten Hopkins, the plan was for the in-his-prime Trinidad to move up and fight Jones, then the light heavyweight champion. (Jones and Trinidad finally met in 2008, when the faded Jones easily dominated the completely shot Trinidad in a lopsided decision.)

Instead, it was Hopkins who routed Trinidad in 2001 to win the undisputed middleweight title. Since then, Jones-Hopkins II has come close to being made more times than I can remember.

I remember once when it was really close, about five years ago, when Hopkins called me at home at about 7 in the morning and woke me up to talk about the fight, ask my opinion about some of the economics being bandied about and gauge my interest in the match.

Kery Davis of HBO tried for years to shepherd the rematch into reality, but each time it was either Jones or Hopkins who was out of his mind in terms of his financial demands.

On one famous HBO telecast in 2002 during which Hopkins and Jones each defended his title in a split-site doubleheader, they had a memorable back-and-forth immediately following Hopkins' knockout of Carl Daniels and just before Jones would get into the ring to knock out Glen Kelly in spectacular fashion.

Now, once again, there is some renewed interest in the fight, even if it's not nearly as serious as it has been at other times.

Hopkins is looking for a fight, and there are serious discussions going on for him to meet cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek on Jan. 30, pending HBO knowing what its 2010 boxing budget will be. To a lesser extent, there has been some discussion of Hopkins facing the winner of a Nov. 7 rematch between Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson.

But Jones is always there, too, especially after he looked so good in a lopsided 10th-round destruction of Jeff Lacy on Aug. 15.

The performance got Jones back to his old, talkative self.

"Manny Pacquiao is at the top of the [pound-for-pound] list and is a great fighter, but even he has not displayed a better hook," Jones said. "Bernard Hopkins can't throw three or four hooks at one time, and he is not as entertaining to watch [as] I am right now. The Roy Jones that was in the ring [against Lacy], no one could beat. Roy Jones is back."

A few days ago, Hopkins was on Calvin Murphy's radio show in Houston, where he was promoting Golden Boy's Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi HBO card. One of Jones' buddies heard Hopkins on the show and had Jones call in. It turned into something of an on-air negotiation that went like this:

Hopkins: Money has been the issue for the past 10 years with us.

Jones: How much will you give me?

Hopkins: I will make it a 60-40 split.

Jones: How about 60 to the winner and 40 to the loser?

Hopkins: Now you want to make a contest out of it. I don't need Roy Jones. It could wind up in the judges' hands and you never know what will happen.

Jones: You pick the judges.

Hopkins: If Roy Jones will take 40, we can get it done before the year is out. But if
not &#8230;

Jones: He already has an "L" on his record from me, and he is trying to make me take 40 so he can prove that I am the lesser man. But if we make it 60 to the winner and 40 to the loser, I will take my chances with that.

Hopkins: Do you think I would make more money fighting Roy Jones than I would a young stud like Adamek or Dawson?

Jones: Bernard doesn't want to fight me. Why would he want to fight me? He's having fun now at this point in his career. He doesn't want to take that gamble.

Hopkins: Is Roy willing to go on record to take 40 percent, win, lose or draw?

At that point the show producer suggested a winner-take-all match.

Jones: That's even better for me.

The producer interjected again, asking if Hopkins was still on the line.

Jones: No. When you said winner-take-all, you ran him off the phone. He's been doing that to me for five years now. He disappeared. That's what happens to me every time.

Another chapter in the rematch that never was and probably never will be.