With Arum, Jones back chasing gold

December 04, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

It does not take long for promoter Bob Arum to start spewing superlatives when he is hyping his latest boxing wunderkind.

In this case, Arum is giving the hard sell to Roy Jones, a flamboyant, young middleweight who battles Percy Harris of Baltimore for the World Boxing Council Intercontinental title at the Taj Mahal tomorrow.

"Roy will become the premier fighter in any weight class in the world," said Arum, having just signed a three-bout, multimillion-dollar deal with Jones (19-0, 18 knockouts). "We're going to make a household [name] out of Roy Jones."

Four years ago, everyone knew his name. Fighting before a worldwide television audience, Jones was victimized at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul when he dominated South Korean rival Park Si-Hun for three rounds in the championship match only to lose the decision.

Trying to make amends, Olympic officials voted Jones "the outstanding boxer" award, but he left Korea without the marketability a gold medal guarantees.

Still, when he returned to his home in Pensacola, Fla., Jones was wooed by all the leading boxing promoters. But his father, Roy Sr., a former fighter, chose to keep his son free of any alliances.

For close to three years, Jones whose style and hand speed drew comparisons to Leonard, fought in relative obscurity.

When Roy Sr., acting as both manager and trainer, was criticized for taking too cautious an approach in matching "Little Roy," he said, "We're not interested in making money at this point, We're trying to develop a champion."

But soon, Roy Jr. grew tired of his lack of celebrity.

After he decisioned Jorge Castro this year, he told the cable TV audience, "I still love my father, but I'm 23 now, and I have to have more input in planning my boxing future."

If all goes as Arum plans, Jones could be fighting for James Toney's International Boxing Federation middleweight crown next summer.

"I felt I was ready for a title shot by February," Jones said. "I'm not sure how much longer I can wait."

But the budding superstar seems satisfied with his new ties to Arum.

"Naturally, money's a big part of it," he said. "I believe I'm a person with a lot of marketability. With Mike Tyson out of the picture, one of the few things that's exciting in boxing is Roy Jones."

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