By Jake Donovan
Roy Jones Jr. can now scratch "winning a club fight in North Carolina" off of his bucket list.
The former four-division champ fought in the United States for the first time in well over three years, stopping hopelessly overmatched Willie Williams in two rounds Friday evening in Concord, North Carolina.
While the win means nothing in the short term, Jones used the opportunity as means to stay active as he seeks to make boxing history. The 46-year old - at one time the best fighter in the world without rival in his fighting weight class or in the pound-for-pound ranks - is adamant about adding a cruiserweight title to his arsenal before (hopefully) calling it a career, eyeing a showdown with long-reigning champ Marco Huck.
Beating up the Willie Williams' of the world won't inch him any closer in the ranks, but allows Jones some much needed ring activity and a long overdue return stateside. The action was brief and emphatically in Jones' favor, bringing an end to the night with a left hook to rock Williams before a volley of shots led to the knockout ending.
Jones advances to 60-8 (43KOs) in his Hall-of-Fame career that will be much better remembered for moments far greater than this. Williams, a clubfighter from Baltimore, falls to 14-9-2 (4KOs), having won just two of his past 10 starts.
The win marked Jones' first on U.S. soil since a 10-round decision win over Max Alexander their Dec. '11 ballroom affair. From there, the legendary but badly faded boxer took his act overseas, fighting in Poland, Russia and Latvia over the course of his next four fights.
The irony in his world tour is that Jones had never fought beyond U.S. borders during his prime years or even in the twilight, not taking his act abroad until 2009, when he suffered a first round knockout loss to Danny Green in Australia. It was his first fight overseas since landing on the wrong end of one of the most disgraceful decisions in the history of Olympic boxing when he was robbed of a Gold medal during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Jones garnered a world of sympathy from the verdict, one that spawned an investigation and forever changed the way amateur fights are scored. His pro career began at a snail's pace, milking a network contract with NBC before the network grew tired of his horrific level of competition.
He would eventually pick it up a notch, going on to win titles at middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. His 10-year run as high among the world's best fighters including wins over Bernard Hopkins, then-unbeaten James Toney and a historic heavyweight title win.
The latter took place in 2003, with Jones becoming just the second former middleweight titlist in history to capture a piece of the heavyweight crown, moving up nearly 20 lbs. to dethrone alphabet titlist John Ruiz.
It proved to be the last great moment of his extended prime, dropping back down to light heavyweight in barely getting past Antonio Tarver. The Nov. '03 fight was Jones' only win in their three fight series, as he was knocked out in two rounds the following May in one of the most shocking results in modern-day history.
Jones' only loss to that point was a 9th round disqualification loss to Montell Griffith in March '97, one in which he emphatically avenged with a 1st round knockout just five months later. He was unable to recapture that magic against Tarver, also dropping a 12-round decision in their Oct. '05 rubber match. Wedged in between the losses was a night believed to have been the end of his career, when he was knocked out in nine rounds by Glen Johnson in Sept. '04.
The three-fight losing streak should've marked the bottom of Jones' career, but another three-peat in the wrong direction came later on, dropping losses to Green, Hopkins in their April '10 rematch - at least eight years beyond its best sell date - and Denis Lebedev - over a 17-month stretch from Dec. '09 to May '11.
Jones has now won six in a row following the knockout loss to Lebedev. All six wins - as well as the Lebedev debacle - have taken place at the cruiserweight limit, with the intention to chase down a showdown with Huck.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox