After 29 years as a professional boxer, winning world titles in four weight divisions and having 75 fights, the all-time great and former pound-for-pound king bowed out with a one-sided rout of journeyman Scott Sigmon in their cruiserweight bout on Thursday night.
Jones had always said that his final fight would be at home in Pensacola, Florida, and he gave his fans an entertaining performance at the Pensacola Bay Center — the same venue where he turned pro in 1989 — in the main event of the first card to be streamed by UFC Fight Pass that also included boxing matches.
Jones (66-9, 47 KOs), who turned 49 on Jan. 16, pounded Sigmon (30-12-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Lynchburg, Virginia, from the outset and won 98-92 on all three scorecards. That the judges could find two rounds to score in Sigmon’s favor appeared generous. ESPN.com had Jones winning 100-90.
At the end of the fight, Jones thanked his fans and complimented Sigmon’s toughness.
“I knew Scott was tough, I knew Scott was game and I knew Scott would keep coming,” Jones said. “However, I don’t make excuses, but last week I tore my biceps in my left arm again and I refused to pull out.”
Jones had previous issues with his arm, though he still used his left throughout the fight with Sigmon.
Since the fight was on UFC’s streaming service, Jones addressed UFC president Dana White after the fight, saying he knew he was watching and then said although he was now retired there was one fight that could get him back into the ring — a long-discussed fight with MMA superstar Anderson Silva. But that fight is seemingly unlikely given that Silva, 42, is in the midst of lengthy suspension because of a second positive drug test.
“Other than that [fight], chapter closed,” Jones said.
The fight opened with a lot of clutching and holding, but Jones eventually opened up with a flurry of punches to punish Sigmon late in the first round and it went that way for most of the rest of the fight.
Jones looked as if he has having a lot of fun throughout the fight. In the second round, he landed a right uppercut, smiled and began talking to fans at ringside. Later in the round, he turned to the fans at ringside to talk to them again while shooting a no-look jab into Sigmon’s face.
Jones seemed to have Sigmon in trouble late in the third round when he repeatedly hit him with head and body shots and knocked out his mouthpiece. It was more of the same as the fight went on as Jones ripped Sigmon with uppercuts and short punches on the inside almost at will. By the middle rounds, Sigmon’s face was bruised as Jones continued to rock him with him uppercuts and left hands, though the Jones of old would have probably knocked such a low-grade opponent out early.
Jones came out for the 10th and final round seemingly looking for a knockout in a fight in which Sigmon never landed any major punches. But while Jones continued to tattoo Sigmon, he couldn’t finish him, but he had given his loyal fans a show and he seemed at ease when the bout was over.
If this is truly the end, Jones will waltz into the International Boxing Hall of Fame when he is eligible in five years. Jones received a silver medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in one of the most controversial decision in boxing history. He should have won gold, but the judges were later found to be corrupt. As a professional, he won world titles in four weight divisions — middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight — and dazzled fight in and fight out until he began a steep decline.
But he racked up numerous significant wins, including defeating Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Vinny Pazienza, Mike McCallum, Montell Griffin, Virgil Hill, Lou Del Valle, Reggie Johnson, Eric Harding, John Ruiz, Antonio Tarver and Felix Trinidad. When he routed Ruiz in a one-sided fight to win a heavyweight world title in 2003, having moved up from light heavyweight, Jones became only the second former middleweight world champion to also claim a heavyweight belt. The previous time had come 106 years earlier when Bob Fitzsimmons did it.
For about a decade — from the time he easily outpointed Toney to win a super middleweight world title in 1994 until he was stunningly knocked out by Tarver in the second round of their 2004 rematch to lose the light heavyweight title — Jones reigned supreme as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Since then he continued to fight regularly but suffered several losses, some by brutal knockout, and never came close to recapturing his untouchable form.
But the fans who turned out in Pensacola on Thursday night couldn’t have cared less. They came to say goodbye to their favorite son and Jones gave them one last show.