Does Jones have heavier aspirations?


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Would you believe Roy Jones Jr. vs. Mike Tyson? The unbeaten super-middleweight king challenging the former undisputed heavyweight champion?

After Jones floored Vinny Pazienza three times on the way to a sixth-round knockout Saturday night, Jones' adviser, Fred Levin, was pondering his fighter's options.

"We were looking forward to fighting Gerald McClellan before his unfortunate accident," said Levin, referring to McClellan's February knockout by Nigel Benn that resulted in brain surgery.

"But we've talked to [Tyson's promoter] Don King several times the past month about matching Tyson with Roy," said Levin. "Right now, it's just talk. We also asked King about [World Boxing Association heavyweight champion] Bruce Seldon. But, of course, Tyson would be one of those matches fight fans dream about."

Tyson, making a comeback after his three-year prison sentence on a rape conviction, will be fighting journeyman Peter McNeeley in Las Vegas on Aug. 19.

When Jones heard Tyson's name linked with his, the stoic Florida native flashed a rare smile.

"I ain't messing with Tyson right now. I'm going home, taking a break and let my swollen hand heal," said Jones, who injured his right hand in the third round while beating on Pazienza's broad face.

But Jones proved he is likely the best fighter around today. And, with the possible exception of English slugger Benn, there are no worthy challengers left for him in the 160- or 168-pound divisions.

His next test probably will be a mandatory defense of his International Boxing Federation title against top-ranked Tony Thornton, a match in which Jones would be a bigger favorite than the 12-1 odds against Pazienza, who has been a champion in four weight classes, 135 to 168.

If anything, Pazienza showed too much heart. After the fight, he looked like a model for a "Ban boxing" poster, with welts all over his head.

Conversely, Jones looked as if he hardly had worked up a good sweat while sweeping the first five rounds before the spectacular finish.

"Tonight was a good night for me, but a great one for Jones," Pazienza said after apologizing to his Rhode Island supporters who made up most of the near-sellout crowd of 11,748 at the Convention Center.

"He's very fast and elusive. I'm willing to get hit. He's not. . . . And that's what makes a great fighter."

Pazienza tried to maul Jones inside, but he had no answers for the champion's dazzling hand speed and variety of punches.

Jones (29-0, 25 knockouts) may lack only the killer instinct. After decking Pazienza twice in the sixth round, he seemed reluctant to finish the job, raising his arms and gesturing toward referee Tony Orlando.

"I wanted the referee to stop it," he said. "I don't like to fight a guy who's hurt."

If this was to have been a serious challenge, it hardly showed in Jones' pre-fight demeanor. While Pazienza was psyching himself in his dressing room, Jones was working the corner of stablemate and friend Derrick Gainer, who captured the North American featherweight title by outboxing Harold Warren.

"Sometimes, it doesn't look like a fight takes much out of me," Jones said. "But that's a result of really working hard in the gym."

Meanwhile, Pazienza was pondering his boxing future.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword," said Pazienza, who overcame a near-fatal car accident in 1991 to return to the ring.

"I came back from hell and inspired a lot of people and excited my fans. I've been a warrior through and through, and I'll continue to be a warrior whether I'm boxing or not."

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