Associated Press
February 12, 2003

Jones says he'll be the hunter in this heavyweight debut

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Mounted on the interior walls of the game-room building at boxer Roy Jones' 80-acre ranch are a wild boar, a buck, a large bass and an eight-foot alligator caught in a pond behind his house.

The trophies make Jones think of his upcoming heavyweight debut against John Ruiz.

"I'm the hunter," Jones said Wednesday. "I'm coming to get him. My life may be on the line. I have to kill or be killed."

Ruiz enjoys a 35-pound weight advantage and went 36 rounds with Evander Holyfield in three fights, winning one, losing one and earning a draw in the other. So Jones considers himself an underdog, even though oddsmakers regard the light heavyweight champion as the favorite in the March 1 fight in Las Vegas.

"People want to see this big guy pounding on me," he said. "They want to know can I take it. They say, 'We haven't seen you take a real punch.'

"He might knock me down 100 times, but I'll get up 101 times."

Jones, who said he weighs less than 190 pounds, seeks to join Michael Spinks as the only reigning light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title. He also hopes to become the first former middleweight champion to earn the heavyweight crown since the 1890s.

"Everybody wants to do what hasn't been done," Jones said. "That's what life's about. That's what sports is all about. That's why I'm doing it."

The Las Vegas bout is motivating Jones to rededicate himself to train. He gets up at 5 o'clock every morning to run instead of playing pickup basketball games late at night. He's working out in New Orleans, yet said he doesn't even know where Bourbon Street is.

Jones regards making the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 1988 as his greatest achievement. He said he doesn't want to dwell on how much beating Ruiz would mean to him.

"I'm not thinking about that, or I might pass out before I do it," he said as his cockfighting roosters crowed in the background.

Jones said he hopes the bout will silence critics who contend he has avoided tough fights and can't take a punch.

"If I get a 12-round decision, that's not spectacular," Jones said. "But if I knock him out..."

Jones, accustomed to fighting in a 175-pound division, has called his move up to heavyweight a one-shot deal. But on Wednesday he declined to rule out anything beyond the bout with Ruiz.

"I wake up just thinking about getting into a fight," he said. "That's how much I like fighting. There's something about me. I don't like to leave any stone unturned."

Might that include a fight against 6-foot-5, 250-pound Lennox Lewis?

"He's got no stones in my neighborhood," Jones said, laughing. "I ain't crazy. But I'll not say, 'I will not do it.'"

 

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