Alan Dawson – London
Roy Jones Jr remains sharp, fast and strong despite his recent run of elite level defeats, according to the former pound-for-pound mainstay’s sparring partner; Andres “Taylor Made” Taylor – a Pennsylvanian prospect who is fast climbing the global cruiserweight ranks. Taylor spoke exclusively with On The Beak about his regard of Jones Jr, the level of ability the former heavyweight champ retains and their sparring sessions together.
“I met Roy Jones last year when he co-promoted his first show in the Pittsburgh area,” Taylor reflected when speaking with On The Beak editor Alan Dawson. “My most recent fight on August 15 was the third time I fought on one of his shows. Roy obviously spends a lot of time in Pittsburgh, so he also trains while he is here at my gym.”
Known for his forceful hook shot with either fist, head-bound hookercuts cannon-balled from his right hand, his ability to out-work opponents together with his fun entrances that have – in the past – consisted of his own rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (complete with a dance team splattered with ghoulish make-up)… likable American prospect Taylor (19-1-2, 7ko) is certainly one to keep an eye on.
He receives his boxing education at the World Class Gym in Ambridge – a town north-west of Pittsburgh – and can also rely on Jones Jr (54-8-0, 40ko) imparting his wisdom and ring nous as the two regularly spar.
We chatted about Jones Jr’s ascent in the 90′s: “I grew up watching Roy, like yourself. I remember watching the Jones [versus John] Ruiz heavyweight title fight in 2003,” Dres said, before admitting that it was the unorthodox and athletic Floridian fighter who gave him the motivation and inspiration required to dedicate himself to boxing.
“At that time I was 24 and only had five amateur fights over a period of three years. I was in and out of the game and unsure which direction to go. I had no trainer and there was no boxing gym in my area. Watching Roy dominate that fight, coming up from middleweight and win put things into perspective for me… I realised if you want something out of life you have to take it!”
Taylor Made was no slouch in the amateur scene for the Johnstown native won the PA Golden Gloves, was ranked number three by 2007 and represented Team USA – all in just 32 fights (or three years). He fought for pay for the first time in April, 2008, not long after Jones Jr rewound the years to retire Jeff Lacy in the tenth round where he was completely dominant throughout.
Prior to Jones Jr’s fight with Lacy, much had been said in and outside of the industry, about Junior fighting on. Oscar de la Hoya sent a message to Roy in The Ring at the time, stating: “I say win this fight and then call it a day because you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish.”
Taylor, though, insists that, having sparred with Jones Jr, it is clear he still has key attributes: “I feel like Roy didn’t lose a beat [when we sparred], hes fast and sharp. Roy was blessed with extraordinary gifts that made him who he was. Roy never had to worry about his defence because he was so fast and had cat-like reflexes. Now at 42 hes just adding to his arsenal.”
I pointed to Jones Jr’s three recent losses (Danny Green – 1rd ko, Bernard Hopkins – UD and Denis Lebedev – 10rd ko) acting as fuel for critics to feel vindicated in their assessment that he should call the curtain down on his career: “Yes, Roy had some recent loses. This game is rough, its basically every man for himself – this isn’t the NFL,” Taylor riposted. “A Professional Boxer doesn’t come with health insurance, a salary and a retirement plan. You gotta fight for everything you have.
“Who’s to say what his situation was in the last couple of fights he lost. Without putting Roy’s plan out there, I believe in the very near future you will see Roy’s comeback. To all the armchair “haters”, I’m sure they will be watching Roy’s next fight from that same armchair.”
On how sparring with Jones Jr has specifically enhanced his own fighting style, Taylor said: “It’s good work sparring with Roy – he makes you respect his speed. When I’m in the ring with him I’m not a fan, we are both fighters.”
Dres rarely takes a break from training camp because, at 32-years-old, he is determined to pack as much action into his career – like he has done since turning professional. He explained: “I’ve had 22 pro fights over the past three years so for the most part I don’t take too much of a break form training. We do spar often. You need to put all your training to practice and you need to have a variety of style of fighters to spar with to prepare you for different styles in the ring.”
Taylor, who has turned the sport-proud city of Pittsburgh into his fighting home of late, is tentatively slated to return to the AE Stage in November, either before or after Thanksgiving.