PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                              June 28, 2010


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Media and fans gathered yesterday at the Newtown, PA training camp of local welterweight sensation Mike Jones to watch an open workout by the rising star as he prepared for his upcoming fight in Atlantic City (July 9th at Boardwalk Hall). What the crowd saw was Philly's next man of the moment as Jones breezed through his light workout. After almost five years in the ring, Mike Jones, is on the brink of his big opportunity.

About two years ago, Jones crept into the world ratings and ever since has steadily climbed the ranks. He picked up two pieces of nice hardware along the way - the NABA belt in 2008 and the NABO strap his last time out - and now finds himself as high as the #2 spot in the WBO. Did you hear that? He's the #2 contender for Manny Pacquiao's WBO welter-weight crown. Pacquiao is at the very worst, the second best fighter in the world today. Some strongly feel he's the best. So Mike Jones is knocking on the door of a very elite club.

So after much talk and debate by boxing fans, ring media, industry insiders and outsiders, prospect Mike Jones has graduated to contender status and can't help but eye the big prizes that lie before him if he can just keep winning. "It would be a dream come true. You just want to get a piece of the pie". he said.

What must it feel like for a young fighter like Jones to move into this position? While all of us outside the ring can only wonder, Jones rises every morning and tries on this current status like a new pair of shoes. He's been touted as the heir apparent to Philly's great boxing legacy for quite a while now, so those shoes are starting to break in. But this time; this very moment when his dream is truly coming into focus, must be the only thing he can think about. "My number one goal is to be #1 and nothing less than that. I'm getting closer but I'm not there yet; not where I want to be. My ultimate goal is to be world champion." With another win or two, or three, he just may get there.

Jones fought 50 or so times as an amateur without winning any major titles. He used his time in the pre-pro ranks to transition himself from an aspiring basketball player into professional fighter. His style was made for the pros. When he debuted in December of 2005, he was matched against Jason Thompson, a NY Golden Glover making his second pro start. When Jones steamrolled the supposedly more advanced fighter in less than one minute, a local star was born. A string of 11 more KOs followed.

With 12 consecutive knockouts under his belt, fans began to clamor for Mike's ability to deliver KOs. The string was eventually broken and Jones finally began to book some rounds. His fights got harder, but tough bouts are a part of a rising boxer's growth. He also began to suffer nagging injuries that occasionally stalled his career. But he kept fighting, facing better foes, enduring added pressure and dealing with bigger and bigger expectations. To his credit, Jones kept winning. Still undefeated and with 17 KOs in 21 bouts, his most attractive attribute - his punching power - remains intact. All along his stock has steadily risen. Rated in the top ten by all four of the major world sanctioning bodies (#2: WBO, #3: WBA, #7: WBC & #7: WBA), Jones puts his career momentum (and both his belts) on the line one week from Friday, in his first scheduled 12-rounder.

On July 9th, Jones faces Irving Garcia in Atlantic City in the most important fight of his young career. With a world title shot almost guaranteed in the near future, Jones must win this fight - and doing it impressively wouldn't hurt. The fight is scheduled for broadcast on Showtime's Sho-Box series. So everyone will be watching, including the powers that be who control the various 147-pound champs. The right win, could secure him a shot at the title sooner than later.

Jones & trainer Vaughn Jackson at training camp

Garcia will enter the ring at 17-4-3 with 8 knockouts. He doesn't look like a world beater, but brings some good experience with him. He has won Caribbean and Latino titles, but the very best fighters that he's faced have beaten him. Two of his four losses have been by KO. So Jones should be a solid favorite in this one.

However the intangibles of this fight all lie on the shoulders of Mike Jones. Is he ready? Can he take a punch? Can he survive in a war? Can he turn a fight around if things aren't going his way? Can he handle the pressure of the big time? We may not get answers to all (or any) of these questions on July 9th. But the fact that we keep asking is testament to the star power of Mike Jones. He has arrived as contender. This is his time. I'm in for the ride, and so is most of the local boxing scene. They would be crazy if they weren't. This is what boxing fans wait for. Last year all Philly eyes were on Eddie Chambers as he fought and earned his way to a chance at the heavyweight crown. Now Mike Jones gets to show everyone what he's got. It's been a good ride so far, and it only going to get better.

Mike Jones is immortalized in plaster after his open workout

Jones hopes to eventually replace this strap for a world championship belt


Jones headlines the 10-bout card at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Friday, July 9. Tickets are still available through Peltz Boxing.




John DiSanto - Newtown, PA - June 29, 2010