PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        February 27, 2010


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Mike Jones is used to coming away from his fights feeling pain from a variety of nagging injuries that have haunted him in recent years and presumably helped to stall his progress as a professional in the most talent-laden and lucrative division in boxing. Although the welterweight did not suffer any injuries in his 10-round main event against experienced Henry Bruseles Saturday night, he came away feeling some pains none the less. But it wasn't bad hands or pinched nerves or a sore shoulder this time. No. The aches that Mike Jones was feeling after winning a fairly one-sided unanimous decision were growing pains. Not a bad thing for a rising fighter. But these pains were chronic and acute, and need to be addressed as much as the various muscles and tendons that have recently received so much TLC.

On paper Henry Bruseles, with a record of 28-3-1 going in, was a very experienced foe for Jones. He'd faced well-respected names like Ben Tackie, Cesar Bazan, and Wilfredo Negron, and had not lost since being stopped by Floyd Mayweather five years ago. Yes, this was the most seasoned fighter for Jones yet. The local papers were calling it a big step up. And in many ways, it was. But the truth is it was more smart and careful matchmaking for the promising up-and-comer. Yes Bruseles was experienced, but he was a relative new comer to the welterweight division. This was only the second time Henry had ever weighed in anywhere near the 147 pound limit. So in reality, Jones was facing an opponent who was talented, but also probably pretty safe. Jones' apparent advantages in size and power would surely see him through. The growing body of Jones doubters in the secretive world of local boxing conversations and message boards weren't thrilled about this fight. Many thought it was another easy match for a coddled prospect.

Local fight fans have been crying for Jones to truly step up and prove his stuff, erase the growing whispers about a potentially weak chin, and score a victory as impressive as the many early KOs that had everyone drooling for his next fight. He appeared to be climbing the ranks rapidly, and the hungry fans expected him to have won a title by now. So as the devotees grew restless, they polished up their blame game. Some questioned Jones' ability. Some sniffed at his management. Some questioned his prickly trainer. But most critics focused on Philly's favorite whipping boy, promoter J Russell Peltz. Many have expressed dissatisfaction with the local legend's willingness to move Jones, calling him too cautious to take a risk, and / or too cheap to share the wealth with other promoters in the position to push Jones onto the major networks. Now we all know well that Peltz is a worrier, and perhaps know even better that he's not going to give anything away, but let's not forget what he's accomplished during his Hall of Fame career. Of all the things he's done well, it's his matchmaking that has distinguished him the most over the years. Known as a matchmaker for the boxing fans, Peltz is reminding us, with Jones, that he knows how to make a match for a fighter too.

This time out, if Mike Jones had been in with someone any better equipped to beat him than Henry Bruseles was, MJ's winning streak probably would have ended in Atlantic City. Yes, he won the fight. He even won it handily on the judges scorecards (98-92, 98-92 & 97-92). I had him up 97-93. A nice win for sure, but it wasn't pretty. Jones mostly threw single shots, hesitated a lot, and repeatedly let his smallish opponent back him up all night long. More frustratingly, it wasn't Bruseles' experience that was making Jones look less than stellar. It was Jones himself. In many ways, his fights have become difficult to watch. He is clearly struggling to improve. He's trying, but he's stubborn. He clearly prepares himself outside the ring - always in good shape - always in the gym - but he's not putting it together in the heat of the battle. After his fights, he rarely sounds happy. After Bruseles, he seemed downright depressed. 

Maybe Jones is in the same place many rising punchers have been - wondering what to do when the opponents stop falling over. Questioning your ability to end a fight at the exact moment you decide to. It's a dose of reality when the KOs become harder to produce. What do you do?

Jones is still backing up and trying to invite shots that he can counter with a bomb. I think he thinks that's a boxing style. But it's not. It doesn't usually work with a guy who's not scared stiff. KO artists make knockouts happen. They jab - even if they don't have a great one. They move forward - even if they have to taste a little leather. They use their strength. They create openings. They manufacture opportunities for their punches to land. It's better if they don't just swing for the fences. And it's better if they don't let little guys push them around the ring.

Mike Jones is learning. And he's doing okay. He keeps winning, now 20-0 with 16 KOs. It feels like a long time since he's been a real killer in the ring. But he has to struggle to learn how to fight sometime. Very few are true naturals. And you can't do it all in the gym. Fighters need schooling, and Mike Jones is still in school. Better he does it now than when he's in with a real killer. So let's be more patient.

I've been as antsy as anyone for MJ to face a higher level of opponent. But he's being handled correctly - if he's ever to have a real chance. And he does still have a great chance to make some noise in the welterweight division. Just not yet. If we truly want Jones to eventually get in there and face the Bertos, Mayweathers and Pacquaios, let's give him more time. It very well may pay off. And let's stop second-guessing Peltz. He's doing exactly what Jones needs him to do. A lesser grade worrier would have forced a stumble. That's the art of his job. 

So let's keep our desire to have another Philly champion in perspective. Jones is not our only hope. Chances are, Steve Cunningham will regain his cruiserweight crown in March. And if that's not enough, perhaps if all the hard-to-track intangibles line up, Eddie Chambers may shock Klitschko in March to bring home a waist-full of heavyweight champ-ionship belts. We can wait a month, can't we? 

Beyond USS Cunningham, Fast Eddie Chambers and Mike Jones, Philly has other hopefuls to watch. Guys like Teon Kennedy, Danny Garcia and Hank Lundy are all shaping up nicely. And let's see where Mike Jones stands at the end of the year. Assuming he stays active, keeps working, and remains patient, Jones very well may be ready to make his move, that as it turns out, is not over due after all.                             

Full Results from this fight card:
Mike Jones W10 (u) Henry Bruseles
Gabriel Rosado W10 (s) Saul Roman
Kaizer Mabuza TKO6 Kendall Holt
Ariel Espinal TKO4 Tony Pietrantonio
Troy Maxwell W4 (u) Todd Eriksson
Glen Tapia TKO1 Tyrone Miles
Oddie Duran W4 (u) Jamaal Davis

This fight (along with Rosado vs. Roman) was telecast live on Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports Espanol, and simulcast in the Philadelphia market on Comcast Sports Net (10PM-12AM) as part of the Top Rank Live series. On site tickets prices were $50 & $75, and were old out.




John DiSanto - Atlantic City - February 27, 2010