Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Randall Bailey went from journeyman to champion on Saturday, June 9 as, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he came from behind on the scorecards to score two stunning knockdowns at the expense of Mike Jones. Welterweight contender Jones had been boxing tentatively for the majority of the fight but accumulated the superior scores in most rounds, yet Bailey’s brutal power – when it was finally unleashed – changed the landscape of the contest.
Official verdict: Bailey by way of 11th round TKO.
“Nobody knows what it takes for me to prepare and do what I do,” a sobbing, yet triumphant, Bailey – with the IBF welterweight championship belt proudly tied around his waist – told HBO after his victory. He added: “Mike Jones is tough, take nothing away from him. I love my team. It’s [the power] my God’s gift, my mom’s a fighter, so this came naturally. [When the second knockdown happened I thought] stay down, Mike, please! He’s a big dude, man!”
Bailey’s Hollywood finish transpired after what had been bland viewing beforehand as Jones boxed with caution in the opening rounds, relinquishing the centre of the ring to opponent Bailey (43-7-0, 37ko) who was the clear aggressor at the start of combat. Known for his penchant of throwing punches in bunches, Jones’ output on fight night was in stark contrast to his reputation and this was not lost on the crowd who booed his approach within four minutes of boxing.
Jones was finally more active in round three, however, any positivity to his approach was offset by a clinch-and-grab method that followed any punches that landed. Such a tactic, against a boxer famed for his punch power, was perhaps evidence he was paying too much respect to his opponent’s best asset – the right hand. Both fighters, though, were responsible for what was a largely uninteresting fight as neither man was landing enough to do any damage (aside from a mark to Bailey’s eye).
In the middle rounds, Bailey’s one-dimensional boxing and the over-reliance on the right hand were two weaknesses that Jones failed to capitalise on as the undefeated Philadelphian showed a clear lack of aggression, neglected the jab but – crucially when it came to scoring – was doing just that little bit more than Bailey by landing a little more often.
Some excitement finally arrived in the ninth round when Jones attacked each side of the body in equal measure prior to planting one on the face, however, he did not follow up on that success, took a step back and ended up getting jabbed in the mouth by Bailey. A similar situation occurred in the tenth round as Jones again showed a five second period of pressure but couldn’t cope with Randall’s retaliation as Bailey canvassed him with a straight right.
It says much of both Bailey’s power and his limitations that his only meaningful contributions to 11 rounds of action were the two punches he landed in rounds ten and 11. In the penultimate round, he launched an uppercut underneath a Jones jab. It caught Jones off-guard, cracked his nose, turned his lights off and put him flat on his back with his eye-lids shut. For most fighters that would be goodnight, but Jones showed fair recovery as he opened his eyes and attempted to get to his fight on the count of four but his legs failed him completely and he was counted out.
“I’m a tough man, I’ll be back,” Jones (26-1-0, 19ko) said defiantly in defeat. “I got caught with a clean shot, he was the better man tonight… I’ll be back. I got careless in the later rounds, but I have no excuses. He won.”