News May 2013

Junior Jones; “Barrera is a sore loser..Naz didn't want to fight me”

22.05.13

Junior "Poison" Jones talks to Livefight

By Michael J Jones

Slick: Junior Jones


One of the most exciting fighters in 90’s world boxing was surely talented New Yorker Junior “Poison” Jones.

A lean, skilful fighter with deceptive power, Jones would win world titles in two different weights but it is his two famous victories over Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera which he will forever be remembered for.

The first victory in November 96’ was considered a huge shock at the time as underdog Jones neatly out-boxed the 43-0 WBO super-bantamweight champion (despite some rough-house tactics by Barrera) before ending the fight in style in the fifth. Jones dropped Barrera heavily with a great right-hand at the end of the round and, as he followed up, the fight was halted as the stricken fighter’s corner entered the ring to bring a disqualification over their man.

Jones also proved the first fight was no fluke just five months later, taking a deserved points decision over his great rival in Las Vegas.

Those two terrific wins were the beginning of the end for the slick puncher though as he went on to lose his WBO title to another underdog (and bitter rival) Kennedy McKinney before suffering further world-title defeats to Erik Morales and Paul Ingle.

The Brooklyn stylist eventually quit the ring in 2002 with a still-great 50-6 (28) record.

Still involved in boxing training young amateurs in New York, here’s what the 42-year-old former champion had to say-

LF) You were a two-time New York Golden Gloves champion as an amateur who turned pro in mid 1989. You quickly ran up a 30-0 unbeaten record before challenging undefeated Columbian Jorge Julio for his WBA bantamweight title in Atlantic City. What do you recall of that title-winning victory?

JJ) Julio was far better than I thought he’d be. It was my first (world) title fight and I’d seen a few of his fights and didn’t think he was that good. I was really shocked when he dropped me (but got up to win a clear decision).

LF) After a successful defence versus Elvis Alvarez you surprisingly lost the title to John Michael Johnson in an upset. I believe making the 118lb limit had become a problem by this time?

JJ) Well I’d beaten Johnson earlier in my career (on points in Jones’ third fight). I’d dropped around ten-to-twelve lbs in the last couple of weeks but the day of the fight I still had another 3lbs to shift. I couldn’t eat or drink for days before the fight and had nothing left come the fight.

LF) You had a strange fight with Darryl Pinckney later that year after moving up a weight to 122lbs. You had both gone down in the third and the ref’ stopped you awarding Pinckney the victory?

JJ) Yeah I don’t know why the ref’ stopped me it was just a bad call and a bad situation.

LF) You put the two defeats firmly behind you and in March 96’ put on a boxing master-class to clearly beat former long-time bantamweight champion Orlando Canizales on points for the IBC title. The scoring was strange for that fight; all judges had it one-sided but one judge scored for Canizales?

JJ) Yeah but I felt I won every round. The judge probably gave it to him because of who he was. That was the highlight of my career as Canizales had not long broken the world record for (bantamweight) world title defences.

LF) After two more wins in the same year you faced Marco Antonio Barrera for the WBO super-bantamweight title in Florida. You were a huge underdog before that fight but I know you were very confident about that fight?

JJ) I’d been watching Barrera for quite some time and I knew I had the style to beat him though nobody gave me a chance. I think he took the eye of the ball a little bit and thought it’d be an easy fight. I saw in his style he was perfect for me, he’d come forward and I knew I could counter him.

LF) You knocked him out but the history books will always say it was a disqualification; does that bother you at all?

Upset: Jones twice beats Barrera


JJ) No I got the win and everybody saw what I did to him (legitimately stop him). I had a feeling all the way up to that fight that I’d beat him inside five and it came true.

LF) You proved it wasn’t a lucky win by taking an immediate rematch just five months later. Were you surprised it went the full twelve after hurting him so badly in the first fight?

JJ) No not really, after the way I beat him the first time I knew he’d come at me hard in the rematch trying to avenge the loss. He came even harder than I expected but I still beat him. It was strange, I knew the first fight I’d stop him inside five and I also knew the second fight would be tougher and go the distance which it did.

LF) Barrera’s a great fighter but known to be a sore loser; were you a little angry after the fight when he said he had been robbed when it looked like you’d won even clearer than the judges had it?

JJ) I thought I won wider than the judges had it but as long as I won it didn’t really bother me. Barrera was just a sore loser who couldn’t take that I beat him twice the way I did.

LF) Eight months later you were surprisingly stopped by (former Barrera victim) Kennedy McKinney (on the undercard of Hamed-Kelley). Most people were of the opinion you would win easily; what happened?

JJ) I just fought angry with my emotions and shot my load (punched himself out). I’d dropped him in the third without really hitting him solidly but still went for the kill. By the next round I had nothing left (Jones was stopped in the fourth).
There was also a lot of pressure on me in that fight to win (being the big pre-fight favourite).

Note: The two rivals had history as McKinney had also beaten Jones as amateurs in the Olympic trials.

LF) You took a risky comeback fight ten months later by travelling to Mexico to take on the feared Erik Morales?

JJ) It was a risk but I watched him and thought I could beat him even over there but he was much better than I had anticipated. He was very good and a strong puncher. I felt it was close after three and I was winning but he caught me (getting stopped in the fourth in his second consecutive bout).

LF) The next year in 1999 you boxed some tough fighters, edging former world champion Tom Johnson, stopping puncher Richard Evatt and out-pointing Tracy Harris Patterson. They were very hard fights to take at that time?

JJ) At that point I was trying to take the best, most competitive fights out there. I knew I had to grab people’s attention to get me noticed again (to get bigger fights).

LF) You were awarded another world title shot the next year, fighting Paul Ingle for the IBF featherweight title in New York. You gave him a great fight and even had him down before he caught up with you in the eleventh round?

JJ) The whole fight changed when I had him down. After that knock-down I just lost focus and drifted in the fight.

LF) After three more wins you retired after a points defeat to unsung Ivan Alvarez in Michigan. Was it easy to walk away from boxing at that stage?

JJ) Yes because after that defeat I knew in my mind I had nowhere left to go. I lost to a guy like that so at that point I knew (my boxing career) was over.

LF) Were there any fighters you didn’t get to face but wished you had?

JJ) Yeah I wanted to fight Prince Naseem Hamed. We were meant to fight but twice a press conference was called and twice it got cancelled. I really don’t believe he wanted to fight me. He was a big puncher and awkward but I feel my style would have posed him some problems in there.

LF) I know you are a big Floyd Mayweather fan. You were similar in style and physique to Floyd how do you think the two of you would have matched up at 130lbs?

Junior was a two-weight world champion


JJ) I probably had more power but he had a much better defence I don’t think I could ever have beaten Floyd. He’s got those fast hands and he’s very hard to hit cleanly.

LF) You fought them both and they were obviously great rivals but who do you think was the better overall fighter; Barrera or Morales?

JJ) Barrera was the better fighter. He could do pretty much everything; box, punch, move etc but Morales was a little more easier to figure out. Morales is like most Mexican fighters in the way he boxes but Barrera was that bit different though both gave me problems in different ways.

LF) Do you miss being a fighter?

JJ) I miss the competitiveness of boxing a little but not the pressure and the outside the ring stuff.

LF) Thank you Junior it’s been great talking to you.

JJ) Ok thank you.

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