By Gary Purfield
This Saturday at the Arena in South Philadelphia rising welterweight contender Mike Jones will be having a homecoming when he fights Raul Munoz to stay busy in between bigger HBO fights. It has been nearly two years since Jones fought in his hometown of Philadelphia PA. The number one rated welterweight by the WBO (and top five by all the major sanctioning bodies) recently has been in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other bigger venues as he has become a bigger and more well-known force in boxing. But the Philly native rose to prominence by fighting in his early bouts in many of the local Philly Arenas including the now closed legendary Blue Horizon.
Jones is looking forward to bringing his skills back home. “It’s about time for me to come back. I want to put on a spectacular show. Anytime I’m at home fighting I’m gonna put my best effort for all the Philadelphia fans.”
The homecoming is getting its fair share of attention. At the open workout Monday it was not just the regular boxing media. Local TV stations including Comcast Sports Net, Fox 29, and others sent their reporters and camera crews to cover the hometown star. Recently only Bernard Hopkins could garner TV coverage from the networks for a boxing event.
Jones is coming off a dominant win over Jesus Soto-Karass in Las Vegas on the Donaire-Montiel undercard. The one sided decision victory in the rematch with Soto-Karass gave Jones vindication after he had won the first fight by majority decision in a close disputed fight that had many questioning Jones ability to fight at the top level.
Jones had Soto-Karass hurt in the second round of the first fight but blew his energy going for the knockout. He had to hang on and survive for several rounds before coming on late to get the win.
In the rematch Jones made no such mistakes and his superior talent and skill allowed him to steadily punish Soto-Karass in an eye opening performance. Jones made the needed adjustments physically and mentally between the two fights. He knows he gained valuable experience about listening to his corner, following a game plan and staying patient. He also learned about going the distance against quality opposition. Early on in the Philly days Jones was blasting every one in front of him with thrilling knockouts in the early rounds. As the opponents get better he will see more guys like Soto-Karass who don’t go down easily.
“Those are the type of guys you need to fight to move up in the rankings and be a better pro.”
“I want to show everybody I can box, I can punch, I can do it all. On any given night I can bring out the boxer or I can bring out the slugger. I’m just working on my game to be the best at both of them.”
Now Jones is left with the dilemma so many young fighters that have been on the big stage have these days in the era of premium cable boxing. Do you sit and wait for the next big fight to come your way with a big paycheck or fight a smaller fight in between. Many others have taken the first route. Sit and wait for HBO even if that means only fighting once or twice a year and not promoting yourself to the general public and boxing fans. Fighters including Tim Bradley, Paul Williams, and Andre Berto amongst others have gone the way of only fighting when getting a big paycheck from a premium cable outlet even though this has hurt their marketability to sell tickets and leaves them without the much needed ring experience that grows a young fighter.
Jones is taking the second course. With nothing currently open on HBO for him he will return home to the Arena to take on Raul Munoz in front of local fans that have supported him since early in his career. Sure Jones will be fighting for a smaller check than his last two outings and he runs the always dangerous risk of losing the dangerous tune-up or stay busy fight but he can gain so much with the risk. He will continue developing a local fan base that will see their man live and appreciate the opportunity to see a rising star. He also gets the opportunity to continue honing his skills in the gym and in live action that sparring cannot emulate. Sure other fighters that don’t fight as often stay in the gym but fighters also will tell you that training for a scheduled fight is far different that training without a date marked on the calendar.
Jones admits he was hoping for another big fight but explained his current perspective on fighting Raul Munoz this Saturday.
“At first it was a bummer but I had to sit back and look at it you know I’m a professional, this is my job, and anytime I go out, wherever I go out and fight I’ll put my best effort forth and prepare myself just like it’s a world championship fight.”
Jones is working hard and not overlooking his opponent this weekend. But it is hard not to look ahead with possible title fights on the horizon.
“I want a good fight, I want fight under the bright lights and be back on HBO. I want to show the world that I’m someone to be reckoned with. I want to be a great fighter and I work hard, hard as the rest of them out there, I want the world to see my talent.”
For now Jones will stay busy, keep training, keep learning, and keep getting better as a fighter and a boxer. He will take the opportunity to put on a show in his hometown where he can sell tickets unlike so many of today’s boxers. But he will have an eye on the future where he could be Las Vegas or Atlantic City with an HBO audience, an HBO paycheck, and a title belt opportunity. When that day comes he will be better prepared due to the training and experience he is getting along the way.
Part Two will focus on the gym workout Jones put on Monday including notes on style, technique, adjustments, and areas to keep improving.
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