Boxing great Roy Jones Jr., top and below, watches a series of young fighters Saturday night at the MOWA Choctaw Reservation in Calvert. (John O’Dell/Call News)
By ARTHUR L. MACK
CALVERT — The man many believe was the best pound-for-pound boxer of all time sat ringside at a gym on the MOWA Choctaw Reservation Saturday night looking for young fighters who might one day follow in his gloves.
The Olympic silver medalist was on hand at the MOWA Choctaw Reservation to view a fight card at the invitation of promoter Brok Weaver, whose cousin Nick fought Jones six times and made him dig deep to discover his desire to be a champion.
“Nick Reed was one of those guys and one of those opponents at a young age who made you question every time you fought him whether you wanted to be a fighter or not,” said Jones, who went on to win world titles in four divisions — middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.
“If you didn’t want to be a fighter, you wasn’t going to beat Nick Reed,” Jones said. “We met six times. I won all six but every time he came at me even harder. He made me prove to myself and made me ask the question, ‘Do you want to be champ?’ Damn right but you weren’t going to beat Nick.”
Brok Weaver, who hails from McIntosh, is a former UFC fighter, gym owner, coach, matchmaker and member of the MOWA Choctaw tribe who promoted Saturday’s Choctaw Warrior Promotions 5 event, a 17-bout card featuring mostly unknown fighters who got a chance to gain exposure.
Jones, a Pensacola native, still lives there and is now training and developing fighters.
“I’m keeping kids off the street and giving guys an opportunity to learn what God blessed me with,” he said. “I want to share with the world what God gave me.”
Jones said he has trained approximately 25 boxers and said they all had the potential to get to the next level.
“Some of them have gotten there and some have not but we’re still on the come-up right now,” he said. “A lot of them are still on their way.”
Jones said he feels blessed to have been a world-famous boxer but he has a different focus now.
“It makes me feel good but that’s in the past for me,” he said. “I thank God for blessing me with the opportunities to do what I did, the skill level and giving me the knowledge to go as far as I did. What’s important to me now is to take that knowledge to help others get better.”
The willingness to share his experiences with others was why Jones was at the Choctaw Warrior Promotions 5 event Saturday. He was also looking for fighters who are serious about the sport.
“I hope to see potential, you know?” Jones said. “I’m looking for guys who have potential. You look for the kids coming up with what kind of potential they show because the more potential they got, the more promising their future is. … If you have potential, you can work with it, build it and teach it.”
Jones said a boxer must also have heart.
“Heart is hard to find and heart is an intangible you can’t give,” he said. “Either you got it or you don’t. When you come to a fight like this, you want to see how many kids have that heart (and) have that extra intangible. People like Brok Weaver got the heart along with the mentality. With talent, you can go a long way but you got to see how bad they want it.”
Jones said former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is an example of desire matching talent when he lost to James Toney on a ninth-round TKO in 2003.
“Evander had the biggest heart of anybody I’ve seen in boxing,” Jones said. “He fought James Toney and that was a perfect example of difference in skills and heart. He couldn’t beat James Toney because James had skills and heart but Holyfield had a big heart. That’s why he’s one of my favorite people in boxing.”
Jones said he was happy to have attended the event on the MOWA Reservation.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “It makes me feel gifted. It makes me feel blessed to have something to give back to the community. I thank God for giving me beautiful highlights and do so many things that other people couldn’t do. Anytime Brok wants me to help the kids, I’ll be here.”