This Week In Boxing: RJJ’s Brutal Body Shot Turns 20

4/25/1998: Virgil Hill 176½ lbs lost to Roy Jones Jr 177 lbs by KO at 1:10 in round 4 of 12

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By 1998 Roy Jones Jr was 29 -years old and in the absolute prime of his career he was pound for pound #1 in the world and his athleticism and skill set made him unique to anything we had ever seen before. Jones was coming off of a first-round destruction of Montell Griffin, to regain the WBC 175-Pound title that he lost via DQ, the only loss of his career at that time. He had then relinquished his WBC strap as he was contemplating moving up to heavyweight. He had originally signed to fight James Buster Douglas but reconsidered the decision and opted instead to fight Hill in Biloxi in a non-title fight. Virgil Hill was legendary in his own right. A silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics and a Hall of Famer who had twice held light heavyweight crowns. Hill had compiled a record at that point of 43-2.

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Jones was coming off of a 9-month layoff and even in that he fought less than one round in knocking out Montell Griffin. Combining the layoff with the defensive wizardry of Hill Jones looked to have a mild case of ring rust in the first round. Hill who was visibly the bigger man in the ring and came out aggressive landing some beautiful jabs to the head and body of RJJ, perhaps it was partly due to the ring rust. Jones tried to counter with lead left hooks and right hands missing in the opening moments. As the fight progressed Jones began to get sharper in the final minute of round one and began nailing Hill at will, sharpshooting his head with combinations from all angles. By the second the difference in hand speed became obvious and that it was going to be a major problem for Hill. Quicksilver was executing his game plan which was to jab to the body and try to slow the speedier Jones Jr down.  However, it was proving to be a fruitless plan as Roy landed beautiful counter shots that began to badly swell Hill’s face and was winning every exchange in the third round as the pace began to pick up.

The end came abruptly for Vigil in the next round. Roy who hadn’t thrown a body shot of any real significance was clearly setting something up. Jones was methodical and was timing and measuring Hill up for something. RJJ was going over Hill’s jab the entire fight with a right. At exactly the 2:05 mark magic happened. Hill threw a bit of a lazy jab that Roy went underneath this time and landed a sensational right to the body this time that dropped hill like a ton of bricks, crashing him to the floor like a skyscraper that had been imploded. As the body shot landed a thud could be heard like a shotgun going off in your ear and HBO color commentator George Foreman immediately shouted “Unheard of! Unheard of!!) It was the third time Quicksilver was ever floored and clearly was the worst he was ever hurt. The future Hall of Famer someone made it to his feet just before referee Fred Steinwinder III reached 10. However, Hill was hunched over and clearly unable to continue as Steinwider waived the fight off and Hill immediately dropped back down to his knees with the look of excruciating pain written all over Hill’s face. Virgil Hill was sent to the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken rib from the Jones right hand. Following the knockout, Roy said ”I caught him under the left arm, where I don’t know. I don’t have time to radar it in. It’s so fast, I just have to throw it and get it over with. I thought it landed right under his left arm and close to the kidney area. But everything on the front surface is legal. If you turn it to me, it’s legal. If it hit bone, it’s broken. You can forget about it.”

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Roy Jones Jr officially called it a career following his fight on February the eighth against Scott Sigmon. Jones who is never shy to express himself ruffled some feathers shortly after his retirement when he said that Floyd Mayweather wasn’t the best ever and that his highlight real was far better than Floyd’s. A few things are certain Roy Jones Jr was hands down the best fighter of his era. From 1994-2003 RJJ was by far the best and most dominant fighter in the sport. From 2004-2105 Floyd Mayweather was most certainly the best and most dominant fighter in the world. But this is where the argument becomes arbitrary and a bit silly, both fighters are P4P two of the best to ever live, but how can anyone reasonable compare a guy that won titles from middleweight to heavyweight to a guy that won world titles from Super featherweight up to Jr. middle. Logically, a fair conclusion is that Floyd had the more accomplished career the greater career. However, at their absolute peek due to knockouts like this and the Montell Griffin destruction perhaps RJJ was greater in his absolute prime then Floyd was.

 

Jones was a 6-1 favorite.
Hill earned $1 million, and Jones received $4 million, including a $500,000 bonus for having extended his contract with HBO.
Grand Casino, the fight’s host, gave Jones a $125,000 Rolls-Royce.
There was a contracted weight limit of 177½ pounds.
This was a 12-round non-title fight.
There was a crowd of 8,700.
Jones knocked out Hill with a right to the body. It was the first knockout loss of Hill’s career.
Jones landed 34 of 69 power punches (49%) and Hill landed 11 of 30 (37%).
The KO was named The Ring Knockout of the Year.

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