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Unbeaten Roy Jones Jr. is disqualified, loses to Griffin

March 22, 1997

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ When it was time to fight, Roy Jones Jr. didn’t want to. When it was time to quit, he wouldn’t.

The result was a ninth-round disqualification for Jones, an unlikely victory for Montell Griffin and the perfect setup for a rematch.

Not that Griffin wanted it this way.

``I wanted to win it fair and square,″ said Griffin (27-0). ``If he’s the greatest man on the planet, why did he have to hit a man who was down? I don’t understand.″

Jones, who at 34-0 is touted by some as the best boxer in the world, fought like he was afraid of Griffin. For the first five rounds, Griffin pushed Jones around the ring, backing him into corners and jamming him so he couldn’t unleash his customary barrage of counter punches.

Jones refused to pressure Griffin and found himself against the ropes, absorbing solid body shots without resistance or retaliation.

But Jones scored a knockdown in the seventh when Griffin plunged to the canvas. But it appeared he tripped; he complained to referee Tony Perez after getting up.

``He didn’t beat me. I was disqualified,″ said Jones, who lost the WBC light heavyweight crown in the scheduled 12-rounder before 2,400 people at Trump Taj Mahal on Friday.

In the ninth, Jones rocked Griffin with a right and then followed with three more rights and a left. Griffin dropped to his left knee to clear his head, but as he looked up at Perez for the count, Jones hit him with a right and a left.

``I took a shot to the back of the head and I took a knee on purpose to clear my head,″ the new champion said. ``When I went down, I was just dizzy.″

After the punch, Griffin’s eyes rolled up in his head and he pitched forward onto his face. He was counted out by Perez, who then disqualified Jones at 2:27 of the ninth round as bedlam broke loose.

``I wasn’t sure he was down,″ Jones said. ``I thought he might pop up again.″

Perez said he had no choice.

``He hit Griffin when he was down. He hit him twice _ I had to disqualify him. ... When I saw he was impaired and unable to continue, I had to disqualify.″

Judge Barbara Perez had Griffin ahead 76-75 after eight rounds. Judge Chuck Hassett favored Jones 77-75 and Terry Smith had Jones ahead 76-75.

The AP favored Griffin 77-75.

``He was desperate,″ Griffin said. ``You could see his face was busted up. I was too fast. I was taking it to him. I was taking him into the ropes.″

Griffin landed 141 of 298 punches, 47 percent, and Jones landed 113 of 372, 30 percent, according to a computer analysis of the fight.

Jones, of Pensacola, Fla., who weighed the class limit of 175 pounds, earned $3 million for his first loss in 10 title fights. He also is a former IBF middleweight and super middleweight champ.

Griffin, of Chicago, also 175, earned $385,000 for his victory, which was telecast by HBO.

In another fight, David Reid, 154, of Philadelphia, the only U.S. Olympic boxing champ from the Atlanta Olympics, made his pro debut with a four-round decision over Sam Calderon, 157, of Campbell, Ohio.

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