Ezzard Charles vs Roy Jones Jr – Who Would Win?
Since the beginning of human existence we have engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Fighting is a universal language all cultures and nationalities understand. Boxing, in particular, has been an Olympic sport since 688 BC when it was performed in ancient Greece. About 300-500 years ago boxing evolved from its origins into prize fighting. After the creation of the London Prize Ring Rules, the sport evolved into the more popularly known Queensbury Rules system. Throughout the sport’s history there have been a plethora of greats in every decade and every century of the sport’s existence.
A prevailing question throughout time as been, “Can fighter ‘X’ beat fighter ‘Y’ in each of their prime?” This marks the second entry in the series with the first seeing Deontay Wilder vs Mike Tyson. For the second matchup we jump over to two individuals considered to top the light heavyweight all-time charts. Those names are Ezzard Charles and Roy Jones Jr.
Ezzard Charles (mid 1940’s-mid 1950’s) vs Roy Jones Jr (1990’s-early 2000s)
Ezzard Charles-Brief Glance
The “Cincinnati Cobra” Ezzard Charles (95-15-1) was known to the boxing world in the 1940’s and 1950’s for his superlative defense and keeping his head offline when throwing strikes. At the age of 14 Charles began boxing as a featherweight. During his amateur career (which lasted until he was 18 years old) he earned a highly impressive record of 42-0. Charles lost four years of his prime due to serving in World Ward II overseas in Italy. With four more years in his early prime, Charles may be considered by more in the greatest of all time talks.
What really stands out in the career of Charles is his size. In 1950 when Charles defeated Joe Louis for The Ring and lineal heavyweight championship, Charles only weighed in at 182 pounds and stood at 6’0″. He also remained very active in his career going 16-0 in 1940 alone with only three of those wins coming by decision.
Brief List of Accolades
Charles impressively knocked out champions spanning three weight classes in his career. He also won the distinct honor of The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1949 and 1950. Continuing with his long list of accolades, Charles is a 1990 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and in 2009 was ranked as the best light heavyweight of all time according to Boxing Magazine. If you happen to find yourself in Cincinnati, Ohio and stroll through Laurel Park, you will come across a massive statue of Ezzard Charles chiseled in his honor.
Aside from his defense and counterstriking ability, Charles knocked out Sam Baroudi on February 20, 1948 which eventually resulted in the death of Baroudi. The death greatly effected Charles and led him to adapt his style from the bruising KO striker, to the counter-striker and defensive minded fighter he would become. Sugar Ray Robinson, regarded by many as the greatest boxer of all time stated of the Ezzard Charles vs Joe Louis title fight, “Ezzard Charles is the most underrated fighter I know. Charles is in superb fighting condition. I refuse to go out on a limb in predicting what the outcome of his fight with Louis will be but I’ll say this much, Ezzard looks very good to me.”
Charles’ X-Factors to Victory
One of Charles’ biggest attributes is his defense. As the competition improved, Charles’ game evolved from the knockout artist to the methodical counter-striker. The legendary Rocky Marciano faced off with Charles twice and stated, “Roland La Starza was tough, but Ezzard Charles was the toughest man I ever fought. I learned what pain was all about when I fought him.” Due to being the smaller man while competing at heavyweight, Charles had to often utilize a smothering style, all the more reason for the stellar defense. Against such a dangerous striker as Jones Jr, impeccable defense is a must to survive in the ring. Attesting to his ability to hang in the ring with a huge puncher, Charles has two victories over Archie Moore. Moore (186-23-10) was selected as the fourth most powerful puncher on The Ring’s top 100 list published in 2003.
Roy Jones Jr-Brief Glance
Roy Jones Jr (66-9) is a once in a generational fighter known for his lightning quick speed and devastating knockout power, earning 47 knockouts of his 66 victories. Very few boxers in history fight with the confidence as Jones. His trademark windmill punch has the staple of any Jones highlight reel. Jones also possesses a silver medal for the 1988 Olympic games which anyone would argue should be a gold medal. Only standing at 5’11” with a 74in reach (one inch on Charles) Jones became the first middleweight champion since Bob Fitzsimmons to win the heavyweight championship in the prior 106 years.
Jones’ DNA is laced with boxing has his father was a boxer who even fought the great Marvin Hagler. The 2003 World Boxing Hall of Fame Fighter of the Year defended the unified light heavyweight title 12 times. That is most in the division’s history and tied for third all-time.
Jones Jr’s X-Factors to Victory
Jones Jr’s key to victory is his devastating speed. He began his career 49-1 before suffering his first true defeat at the hands of Antonio Tarver. The previous blimp on Jones Jr’s record came from a disqualification when he struck a downed Montell Griffin. Jones Jr would go on to win the immediate rematch against Griffin. The bout with Tarver was 11 years after he won the 1994 The Ring Fighter of the Year. This leads to the question of if Jones Jr was already on the downfall of his career by this point and not a “prime Jones Jr.” Jones Jr’s key to victory against a legend like Ezzard Charles, which was his key to victory his whole career, was his amazing speed and footwork.
As far as Ezzard Charles’ chances go to conquer Jones Jr goes, it’s going to depend on how fast Charles’ brain computes what Jones is throwing at him. Charles has an amazing ring IQ and dominanted Archie Moore in three bouts. Many experts would consider Moore one of the best light heavyweights of all time. He even took it to dominant champion Marciano being called the toughest man Marciano ever faced. Charles can take a punch too if you look at the names he fought in his career. Charles’ performance against Joe Louis shows that Charles can grind out a man considered that best at his time. Jones Jr may win the early rounds but I feel Charles figures out Jones Jr and wins via decision.