There’s a battle brewing between two Hall of Fame former heavyweight champs, but the burgeoning feud crosses the line between sports and world politics.
International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Wladimir Klitschko couldn’t be at this past weekend’s induction festivities. The former heavyweight champ was still in his native Ukraine, along with brother Vitali, aiding in the war efforts against an invading Russia. He did, however, send over a video acceptance speech that singled out fellow inductee Roy Jones Jr. for scorn.
“I am super happy to be able to address all of you,” Klitschko said. “Well, almost all of you. There is one person for whom I have a real question. One person broke Ukrainian law by going to the occupied peninsula of Crimea through Russian territory. That person is Roy Jones.
“So, Roy, whose side are you on? On the side of the aggressor, or on the side of the defender of its right to live. I respect you as a fighter, but I really question your moral compass.”
The former 4-division world champ, Jones, was obviously not pleased with being singled out on what should’ve been an all-around enjoyable time, during his Hall of Fame induction.
“There’s a lot of people still talking crazy,” Jones Jr. told Elie Seckbach of ES News. “Klitschko trying to throw me into the political world and I have nothing to do with politics. I’m like, ‘look I don’t know what you’re talking about with the politics, but if you wanna fight, you can call me.’ You know, I mean, it’s all good.
“Why would you target me?” Jones continued. “I have nothing to do with that. I have people on both sides. I don’t want to see nobody at war because Lomachenko [who is from Ukraine] is one of my favorites. You think I want to see him at war with Russia? I’ve got 25 kids I train in Russia, amateur kids that have nothing to do with none of that. I feel for those kids too.
“I don’t want to see nobody at war. You’re not the only person having a problem. Don’t be trying to throw me in it because I didn’t know why they put me on the blacklist for going to Crimea. I didn’t even understand that in 2015.”
Jones makes the case that he is totally apolitical and wants no part of others’ political issues.
“Because I do boxing, you want this heat, you can come get that,” Jones said. “Other [than] that I don’t hear what you’re talking about.”
Honestly, Jones has a point here and it was unfair for Klitschko to force Jones to a moral/political stance on an issue totally outside his knowledge and understanding. While Klitschko’s passion in defense of his country is understandable, he can’t force others to have that same passion and he can’t even assume that others are fully educated on the issues involved. Unfortunately, going after Jones in this very public way is more likely to turn people off to the cause than to rally them in support.
But Jones is not off the hook, either. Everyone should be at least somewhat aware of the world around them and to what their actions represent in the grand scheme of things. Although you don’t HAVE to be informed or take any sides, it also shouldn’t surprise you when people react to something you do (or don’t do) that has political or social implications.
The cynic may say that this Klitschko-Jones beef could very well find its way into an exhibition ring. But that’s very doubtful. This is clearly a very important issue for Klitschko and not something to parlay into a money-making venture.
It’s so serious to him, as a matter of fact, that he was willing to throw a fellow Hall of Famer under the bus on what should’ve been one of the biggest, happiest days of his career.