By Chris Robinson
Welterweight contender Mike Jones was an interested spectator this weekend at the WaMu Theater in New York’s Madison Square Garden as Nonito Donaire defended his WBC and WBO bantamweight titles against a reluctant Omar Narvaez. The Donaire-Narvaez clash produced little in terms of excitement but it was necessary for Donaire to shake off the rust, get the win, and move forward towards a possibly huge 2012 campaign.
Jones knows Donaire pretty well, having shared a card with him this past February at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas as Nonito starched brave Fernando Montiel in the main event while Jones won a clear decision in his rematch with Jesus Soto Karass on the undercard. So it was of no surprise that Jones refused to look down at the action that took place this weekend, instead relating to exactly what Donaire was struggling with.
“Donaire, he looked pretty sharp,” said Jones, a Philadelphia native. “The guy he was fighting, it’s kind of hard to fight guys like that who wasn’t really worried about his offense. It’s hard to hit a guy when they don’t open up. It’s really frustrating but at some point in the fight you just have to realize what it is and just keep winning the rounds. You have to take it how it is.”
In about six weeks’ time, Jones will find himself in with a similarly awkward test as he meets up Argentina’s Sebastian Lujan on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch, also at the Garden.
Lujan is no pushover and again showed his worth on July 1st when he outmuscled and outlasted capable contender Mark Melligen on his way towards a 9th round TKO. There is nothing striking about Lujan, who has stout beard and presses forward behind a 5’6” stance while throwing looping shots that often seem to find their mark.
Jones has been linked to some big names over the past year and while some in his position would have been caught looking past a guy like Lujan, he isn’t making that same mistake.
“It’s definitely my toughest fight,” Jones answered. “I think he’s a pretty good fighter. Probably one of the best in the world, he’s ranked in the top ten. He’s a wild guy, a tough guy. I think sometimes they are the toughest guys to fight, guys who are throwing unorthodox punches from all kinds of angles and never getting tired.
Jones was present at a pre-fight presser inside of the Garden before the Donaire-Narvaez clash in which Top Rank promoter Bob Arum mentioned that the undefeated fighter could be in line for a crack at IBF champion Andre Berto if successful against Lujan on December 3rd. Berto rebounded from a harrowing defeat to Victor Ortiz in April by defeating Germany’s Jan Zaveck by way of a 5th round stoppage after bruising up his right eye severely, to the point where the 35-year old couldn’t see, in a rough fight.
Jones took in the fight and gave Berto his props.
“I thought Berto looked pretty good. I didn’t see too much of Zaveck but he came to fight. [Berto] looked fast, strong, sharp; he looked pretty good against Zaveck,” said Jones.
But I had to ask Jones if he might be even more interested in a fight with WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, whom he has heard his name juggled around with in recent times. His answer wasn’t surprising.
“Which one would I want? I definitely would want to fight Pacquiao,” Jones coined. “Because I want to fight the best and I would want to fight him.”
Pacquiao has a November 12th assignment against Juan Manuel Marquez coming up and after producing two intense battles, Jones sees the third go-round between the two being another good one.
“Styles make fights. Marquez’s style always presents problems for Pacquiao; they make exciting fights when they fight each other.”