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Rant: Roy Jones Jr. should quit with mind, legacy intact

PETE YOUNG
Published May 23, 2004

Dear Roy Jones Jr.,

Quit.

Quit boxing, right now.

You're too smart, too funny and too wise. You milked boxing for all it is worth. Stop saying you want to fight on, stop saying you want to move back up to heavyweight, stop risking your illustrious legacy and keen mind. ...

From the time he was robbed of Olympic gold in perhaps the worst decision in history in 1988 through last week, a staggering 16 years, Roy Jones Jr. was one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. For most of the 1990s he was the best.

Unfortunately, no foil brought out his best. There was no Hearns, no Leonard, no Hagler. The best of his era were overwhelmed by his talent. He whipped Bernard Hopkins and humiliated James Toney.

By the time a true challenger, Antonio Tarver, came around, Jones, 35, had too much mileage on the odometer. Perhaps it was a lucky punch from Tarver, but considering their evenly matched first fight, it's also a clear sign Jones has precipitously declined.

More fighting can only do two things: diminish his status and his faculties.

... You are one of the few boxers who can excel at something else and stay in the limelight. You don't need the money. Your boxing legacy cannot be enhanced.

Quit. Now.

Rave: Perfection at 40? Just another feat for Johnson

He could be your Uncle Randy, the tall, friendly Georgia farmer who spent the past 25 years rooting for Bill Elliott.

Or perhaps he could be a NASCAR driver himself, with his bushy moustache and rugged, Earnhardt-esque features.

Heck, he could be a professional bowler, as a recent Nike ad portrayed him, scattering the pins with his "Big Unit"-emblazoned ball.

Randy Johnson is a pitcher, though. And in the year of the 40-something in baseball - Roger Clemens has been tremendous in Houston, and Barry Bonds turns 40 this summer (and maybe there's hope for Fred McGriff, too) - Johnson made the biggest splash last week.

His perfect game against Atlanta was just the 17th in major-league history, and he is the oldest, at 40, to do so. It is another feather in a Hall of Fame career that took a while to fulfill its promise.

Entering the 1993 season, the 6-foot-10 Johnson had a 49-48 career record and was notable primarily as the game's tallest player. He went 19-8 with 308 strikeouts that season and embarked on a 10-year run as perhaps the game's best pitcher.

Age and injuries finally seemed to catch up with him last year as he went 6-8. But if the perfect game is an indicator, Johnson is far from done.

Not bad for your Uncle Randy.

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