Avila Perspective, Chap. 270: Roy Jones Jr., 360 Promotions, Munguia and Sumo


By David A. Avila

Make room for Roy Jones Jr. again.

Jones is a promoter now and is bringing his brand to DAZN on Thursday, Jan. 25, featuring his proteges Andrew Murphy and Mandeep Jangra at Legends Casino in Yakima, Washington.

“I will be bringing with me some treats,” said Jones the former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight world champion (here pictured with Andrew Murphy).

For those who never saw Jones inside the prize ring, he was one of the most athletically gifted pro boxers the world has ever seen. And he had the skills too.

Most fans confuse athleticism with skill. They are not the same. Jones had both and used them efficiently from 1989 to 2018. Then he returned and lost a majority decision in 2023.

The first time I ever met Jones was at the press conference in 1994 at the now defunct House of Blues in West Hollywood, California for his super middleweight showdown with James “Lights Out” Toney.

To say Jones was speedy is like saying ice cream is cold. The Floridian could cover a 10-feet distance in the blink of an eye. And his hand-speed defied reason as his numerous knockouts can attest.

No one at 160 pounds or more possessed more total speed than Jones. No one.

One of my favorite of many Jones moments was his showdown against Julio Cesar Gonzalez who was based in Southern California. He was undefeated and because of his Mexican heritage was chosen by Jones to fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Jones claimed part of the reason for fighting Gonzalez was his affinity for the late great Mexican fighter Salvador Sanchez who he idolized. Sanchez had died in a car accident in 1982 at age 23. Ironically, Gonzalez would later die from a motorcycle accident in Mexico in 2012. May he rest in peace.

During their fight, Jones bewildered Gonzalez with his uncanny speed and movement and numerous knockdowns, including one amazing display where Jones was able to drop Gonzalez with a leaping left hook from 10-feet away. I have never seen anyone repeat that feat.

Somehow, Gonzalez withstood all the blows and knockdowns and survived to hear the final bell. Jones saluted Gonzalez and the Mexican fighter honestly explained he did all he could and was honored to fight Jones. Gonzalez would later win the WBO light heavyweight world title.

Heavyweight champion

Two years later, after cleaning out the light heavyweight division, Jones shocked the boxing world by announcing he would move up to heavyweight to challenge John Ruiz for the WBA world title.

Ruiz was the first Latino to win a heavyweight world title and was promoted by Don King. If you ever attended a King promotion event you never forget. Few could ballyhoo a future fight like King who is still promoting.

During the press conference in Los Angeles, Jones was hours late and the media was forced to wait. Meanwhile King was busy hyping the showdown from sunrise to sunset via radio, television and anybody carrying a pen and paper. Phones with video cameras were still rare.

Ruiz was known as the “Quiet Man” but no matter, King was his promoter and no one could out-hype King. That day King was exhausted and asked if anyone knew a good restaurant nearby that could provide a meal with meat. I suggested El Cholo on Western Avenue and his crew joined us. King could hardly lift his head after exhausting himself with the promotion. We all mostly ate a carne asada dinner and the famed promoter regained his strength.

The actual fight took place at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on March 1. I remember sitting near former light heavyweight great Bob Foster who was there to see if Jones could become the first light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight world title. Foster had tried twice to beat a heavyweight champion and was knocked out by Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. He wanted to see if it could be done.

That night Jones appeared much heavier and though the extra weight slowed him down, he was still too quick for Ruiz and won by unanimous decision. At the post-fight press conference, Antonio Tarver would take away the shine by daring Jones to return to light heavyweight and face him.

Jones answered by daring Tarver to fight James Toney.

Tarver answered by saying why don’t you fight James Toney. It was funny stuff. Tarver and Jones eventually fought each other with Jones speed diminished by the weight loss after moving up. He was never the same, but was able to defeat Tarver the first time. Barely. The next two meetings saw Tarver win by an astonishing knockout in 2003 and a decision in 2004.

Jones remained at light heavyweight for another five years before venturing to heavier weight classes without the same success. But during his prime, few if any could rival his blend of athleticism and skill.

As a promoter Jones has remained competitive with fight cards in Mexico and all throughout the US.

“I will be bringing with me some treats. One of them is Mandeep Jangra. However many rounds Mandeep fight lasts, they will be exciting rounds. The second is Andrew Murphy, who brings power and aggression and is always looking for the knockout. I am really looking forward to January 25,” said Jones who trains and promotes both fighters.

Doors open at 6 p.m.

360 Promotions in L.A. Area

Featherweights headline the show as undefeated Omar Trinidad (14-0-1, 11 KOs) is gunning for his third consecutive knockout and a shot at a regional title when he faces Jose Perez (11-2-2) at Commerce Casino in Commerce, California. The 360 Promotions fight card will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 7 p.m.

It’s a loaded card featuring two female bouts including light flyweight phenom Lupe Medina who has people talking in Southern California about her talent.

Tom Loeffler, the promoter, has always been a proponent of women’s boxing and has arranged fights for many of the best female fighters in history. He also was the guiding force for the careers of heavyweight world champion brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitshcko, and he still remains the advisor for middleweight great Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin. He knows talent and has a full card filled with prospects and contenders.

Doors open at 6 p.m.

Golden Boy in Arizona

Mexico’s Jaime Munguia faces England’s John Ryder in a super middleweight main event on Saturday Jan. 27, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

Munguia is gunning for a showdown with undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Rumors are swirling that the Tijuana fighter has a shot at the champ. First, he needs to pass through super tough Ryder who lost by decision against Canelo a year ago.

The last time Munguia stepped in the ring he engaged in a brutal slugfest against Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the Fight of the Year for 2023. Does he have anything left after that soul-sapping affair? The same goes for Ryder who was punished by Canelo.

Two other world title fights accompany the main event including IBF female flyweight titlist Gabriela Fundora defending against Christina Cruz. And Puerto Rico’s Oscar Collazo defends the WBO minimum world title against Nicaragua’s Reyneris Gutierrez.

Doors open at 2 p.m. DAZN begins streaming at 2:30 p.m.

Sumo Wrestling on Thursday

The International Sumo League takes place Thursday Jan. 25, at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey. It will also be shown on TrillerTV.com at 5 pm PT/8pmET.

Twelve fighters from around the world-including six different countries-will be participating. It’s the first event of the season, said Mark Taffet the head of television production.

Sumo wrestling is a traditional sport that began in Japan. The combatants weigh more than 300 pounds and exhibit remarkable speed and power. The object is to physically force one from out of a circle. The power of their collisions is incredible. Its like watching two NFL lineman going at it in a contest of will, skill, speed and power.

I first saw sumo back in the 80s at UCLA. I stumbled on an event and was captivated. The second time I saw an event, it took place in Las Vegas in the early 2000s. It’s worth watching.

Fights to Watch (All times Pacific)

Thurs. ESPN+ 4 p.m. Erik Bazinyan (31-0) vs Billi Godoy (41-7).

Thurs. TrillerTV.com 5 p.m. International Sumo League

Thurs. DAZN 7 p.m. Mandeep Jangra (6-0) vs Gerardo Esquivel (5-3-1).

Sat. DAZN 11 a.m. Lewis Crocker (18-0) vs Jose Felix (40-6-1).

Sat. DAZN 2:30 p.m. Jaime Munguia (42-0) vs John Ryder (32-6).

Sat. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Omar Trinidad (14-0-1) vs Jose Perez (11-2-2).