By Niall Doran of boxing.about.com and doransboxingblog.com
Fight fans love to talk about fights. They love to talk about the fights that happened in the past and the fights that are coming up. They love to talk about the fights that might be made and they even love to talk about the fights that never were. “What would have happened…” is a favorite game among boxing fans.
Fights like Jack Dempsey v Harry Wills, Sugar Ray Leonard against Aaron Proyer and Mike McCallum versus Hearns are but a few great match ups that never happened.
However, for this writer and thinking with an Irish cap on, one that sprung to mind straight away was Steve Collins vs Roy Jones.
On one hand you had the unbelievably relentless and almost inhumanly tough Steve Collins. The Dublin native was a man who during his time in my opinion beat Britain’s two greatest ever super middleweights – in Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank. This was a feat he accomplished not just the once, but on two separate occasions. I think it’s remarkable how such an unequivocally brilliant achievement like that has gone under the radar among the casual boxing fans over the years.
But of course in the opposing corner you have a man that in his prime who was undeniably one of the most gifted, explosive and precocious talents that perhaps professional boxing has ever produced. The angles and leverage from which he threw punches from were simply dynamite. To back this up he had almost cat like reflexes which helped him avoid return fire. His talent was nurtured and motivated from a stone wall robbery in the Seoul Olympics where he was robbed of a Gold Medal in the final by some disgraceful judging. This went on to inspire him to become only one of two men in history to win recognized, professional world championship belts at middleweight and remarkably – all the way up at heavyweight.
So how would these two legends of the sweet science have really matched up? As we all know, styles in most cases make fights and I feel the clash of styles between these two would have made for a fairly close contest, which in my opinion probably would have went the distance. If you look at Steve Collins in his prime he was a come forward, all action warrior but what he’s not given a lot of credit for was his ability to plan a fight and to psyche out his opponents with mind games. He seemed to have a way of figuring out his adversaries on a case by case basis and often would change his style ever so slightly according to who was in front of him. He was a very, very bright guy. He knew how to bring aspects of psychology into boxing and particularly before hand getting into opponents heads (notably against Chris Eubank).
I think he would have came up with a good game plan for Roy Jones and would have pushed a very uncomfortable, calculated pace with educated pressure early on. However, I truly believe that Jones in his prime was just that bit too special for anyone around his time when he was firing on all cylinders. When you look at the guys he beat (including James Tony) in his prime, he always just had that bit too much for anyone whether it was his power, ridiculous speed, or just been all round tactically superior.
I would say the fight in the first half would have been a scrappy affair with Collins doing his best work early on but I feel as the fight were to progress Roy Jones would figure out Steve and win more than likely a close decision over the course of the twelve rounds. It hurts me to say it as an Irish man and massive Steve Collins fan but I think you have to be objective when looking at these fantasy fights. I know in recent years there was a lot of talk about the two men actually getting it on at this incredible stage of their lives, where both men are well out of their primes but I’m happy it has not come to fruition as I feel it could potentially have tarnished both men’s immense legacy’s and standings within the noble art.
Steve Collins vs Roy Jones – a fight that never happened in the past but one that will always spark debate long into the future among fight fans.