I remember being in Barcelona, Spain, when I heard. Brooklyn b-ball legend Junie Sanders and I had just come back from a bullfight when the word reached us: "Roy Jones just got cold knocked the [expletive] out!" I remember. We were standing somewhere between Gaudi's La Pedrera and Gaudi's Casa Batllo, stunned. More lost in translation than Bill Murray.
I remember the pain that went through me.
Once we were told how it went down, I remember saying to Junie, "That's it; he needs to shut it down right now."
Junie thought different. "He needs to get back in the ring, fight Tarver one more time. He can't go out like that. He won't go out like that."
The pain inside was speaking for me, thinking for me. "Lucky punch, sucka punch, beat to the punch " All of it ran through my head.
"This was his first loss," even though it was technically his second.
"The only reason he got beat is because he had to lose all of that weight from the Ruiz fight in like 3½ months," even though that was the excuse for the last fight against Tarver and it had actually been eight months between fights.
"Plus, he beat Antonio Tarver in the first fight, so he don't need to prove nothing to ol' boy," even though he didn't and yes he did.
In my mind, Roy Jones Jr., the best boxer not named Ali I have ever seen, didn't need to risk it. Especially against a cat that possibly had Roy's number from the time they were amateurs together as 13-year-olds.
Junie nullified all my verbal jabs: "Believe me, son, they gonna fight again."
They both fought Glenn Johnson. They both lost. Tarver avenged his with a 12-round decision. Roy simply got cold knocked the [expletive] out again.
One year later, this Saturday, they bring the pain back to each other for the last time.
Because if Roy Jones Jr. loses one more fight, the pain he feels when he hits the canvas, or when the judges' cards read in favor of Tarver, will be nothing close to the pain I will feel -- again -- from realizing that the one I've felt was "The One" since 1988 has finally become the two.
Second to none, is the way we used to describe him. Yeah, we'd considered Sugar Ray Robinson, Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis. But we were in a new era like the caps. We knew that dude was past special.
The Glen Kelly fight, when he body-punched a knockout the second Montell Griffin fight, when he was on a mission to prove the disqualification from the first one was bogus the unanimous decisions over the only two fighters of his era who were supposed to be able to compete: Bernard Hopkins and James Toney.
We'd heard it all ("Roy Jones is dodging real fights; he ain't really fought nobody") and seen more (49-1 with 38 KOs, five-time champ in four different weight classes, 1990s Boxing Writers Association of America "Boxer of the Decade," etc.). He was, in our minds, beyond "the Mike Tyson that Mike Tyson was supposed to be" as some were calling him. He was Jordan, Gretzky, Rice, Tiger before Tiger. As my uncle in Alabama used to say: "Roy Jones Jr. is so fast, you couldn't hit him with a handful of sugar."