Roy Jones Jr. did not appreciate being singled out by Wladimir Klitschko in the latter’s Hall of Fame speech.
In a video addressed to the attendees at the International Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony in Verona, New York, the Ukrainian heavyweight expressed his gratitude for his induction into the hallowed precincts of the organization. Klitschko was not able to make it to the proceedings in person because he, along with his heavyweight brother Vitali, is currently in his native country helping defend his people against the Russian invasion. But Klitschko, who joined nearly 40 inductees across three classes over the weekend, also questioned the “moral compass” of Jones, another fellow inductee, for what he feels is Jones’ complicitous behavior with the enemy.
“I am super happy to be able to address all of you,” Klitschko said. “Well, almost all of you. There is one person for whom I have a real question. One person broke Ukrainian law by going to the occupied peninsula of Crimea through Russian territory. That person is Roy Jones.
“So, Roy, whose side are you on? On the side of the aggressor, or on the side of the defender of its right to live. I respect you as a fighter, but I really question your moral compass.”
Jones, regarded as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the 1990s, became a Russian citizen in 2015. Jones has cited the country’s large “community of boxers” and the fact that he is beloved there as reasons he chose to become an official citizen. In order to obtain citizenship, Jones met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the pro-Russian Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
In response to Klitschko’s comments, Jones accused the Ukrainian of shoehorning him “into the political world” and even suggested – somewhat facetiously – that they duke it out in the ring.
“There’s a lot of people still talking crazy,” Jones Jr. told Elie Seckbach of ES News. “Klitschko trying to throw me into the political world and I have nothing to do with politics. I’m like, 'look I don’t know what you’re talking about with the politics, but if you wanna fight, you can call me.' You know, I mean, it’s all good.
Jones made it clear he does not support the war going on in Ukraine. Jones explained that Vasiliy Lomachenko, the three division Ukraine titlist who is currently enlisted with his country’s military, is one of his favorite boxers. At the same time, Jones said he does not believe in antagonizing Russia when he has so many young boxers there he is charged with rearing.
“Why would you target me?” Jones continued. “I have nothing to do with that. I have people on both sides. I don’t want to see nobody at war because Lomachenko one of my favorites. You think I want to see him at war with Russia? I’ve got 25 kids I train in Russia, amateur kids that have nothing to do with none of that. I feel for those kids too.
“I don’t want to see nobody at war. You’re not the only person having a problem. Don’t be trying to throw me in it because I didn’t know why they put me on the blacklist for going to Crimea. I didn’t even understand that in 2015.”
Jones questioned Klitschko’s grievance and, once again, suggested they use their fists to settle the quandary.
“Because I do boxing, you want this heat, you can come get that,” Jones said. “Other that I don’t hear what you talking about.”