Gamebred Boxing 4’s main event saw Hall of Fame legend Roy Jones Jr. return from retirement to take on former UFC and WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.
The curiosity factor for the fight was high: while past boxing vs. MMA match-ups tended to have older MMA fighters against younger boxers, the reverse was the case with the 54-year old Jones. Pettis, in comparison, was a relatively spry 36.
“Showtime” also had the hometown advantage, with the card unfolding at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Early on, Jones worked his jab, as Pettis crept forward, targeting the body. Jones returned that jab to the body, then went up top next. Jones stayed on the outside most of the round, circling the ring, keeping his guard high, and making Pettis walk him down.
Round two saw Jones start to press forward a little more, leading the dance and staying off the ropes. Pettis jabbed the body, then double-pumped a jab to the head. Pettis continued to fire short combos, double up on the jab, and occasionally rip the body — but few shots connected flush. “Showtime” even added a bit of flash, turning on a dime and firing a right hand near round’s end, before connecting with one more solid punch.
Round three saw Pettis walking Jones down, while the boxer pumped his jab. Pettis would swarm with about a minute left, leading to a clinch. Jones also got his hands going in this round, landing a right and an uppercut. Another clinch in the final minute had the ref separate them; Pettis attacked the body then uncorked a combo at the bell.
Pettis started round four on the offensive again, walking forward. Jones had his hands down at times; he did attack the body before clinching up. Jones landed a 1-2 near the midway mark. It was Jones turning up the heat as the round progressed, forcing Pettis to cover up. When Pettis charged forward to close the distance a bit later, Jones ripped the body, halting his progress. Pettis then went back to doubling up the jab, but he was showing some damage around his eye. Jones connected with a left right before the bell.
Round five played out in similar fashion. Pettis got his left hook working. Jones’ own left was live. Jones was showing some solid hand speed at the end of the round, and with three rounds to go, it was still a very competitive fight.
The sixth round saw Pettis walking forward, and finding success with his left. Jones continued to hold his own, working his jab. Pettis landed a right, Jones a left in response. Jones was showing impressive speed for 54. Pettis was very much in the fight — though with the massive edge in age, probably should have been further ahead than he was. Credit to Roy Jones Jr., who may have lost a step, but still had plenty of tricks.
Round seven opened with a Pettis combo, mostly deflected by the guard of Jones. Jones fired a step-in right, and kept pressing forward. Pettis jabbed the body. The last two rounds were active, hard fought, and mostly unfettered by the ref, who seemed content to let the pair fight.
Pettis would send Jones reeling in the eighth, though that was more being off-balance than hurt. Pettis turned up the heat, trying to take it to Jones before the final bell. “Showtime” could not get the legend out of there, however. Instead, they went to the scorecards, with Pettis capturing a majority decision win.
The one dissenting card, ruling the fight a draw, appears to have laid the foundation for a rematch. Both men agreed to such after the fight, though whether there’ll be interest in a second outing remains to be seen. Pettis remains signed to the PFL, and will likely return to MMA in the near future, while Jones, at 54, insisted he still wants to fight as a pro, rather than take exhibition bouts.
Official Result: Anthony Pettis def. Roy Jones Jr. by majority decision (76-76, 77-75, 78-74)