“In the Shadows” – Philly’s Mike “MJ” Jones looking for Break-Out Year!
By Ken Hissner (Feb 23, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
“I didn’t have the big amateur records like some of the other Philly guys who signed with outside promoters,” said Mike Jones. What he was lucky at was signing with two of the best co-managers in Philly in Doc Nowicki and Jimmy Williams. Doc is a people person and Jimmy is old school who has been in the business for 40 years and also serves as one of the best cut men in the city. They had formed a partnership years before and blend quite well together. Jones was brought to them by his trainer, Vaughn Jackson. “I’ve trained Mike for 6 years,” said Jackson. This week Jones was preparing for his next bout at the Tenth Round Gym, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, that serves as “camp”.

Jones was #152 as an amateur and at 5:11 usually towers over his opponents. His next opponent will be no exception at 5:07, Henry Bruseles, 28-3-1 (15), of Puerto Rico. Jackson had sparring partners Julias Edmonds and Miguel Corcino trying to pressure Jones as who countered them as he plans to do to Bruseles. Nowicki and Williams also have unbeaten boxers Teon Kennedy and Dennis Hasson along with Kareem Cooley who will be debuting next week. Jones has not been exposed to the cameras or media like so many young fighters have though at the gym Fox 29’s Bill Vargas was doing an interview.

The promoter of Jones is J. Russell Peltz who has promoted about a dozen world champions in over 40 years in the business. Peltz has not been in a hurry with Jones as say a Bob Arum, Don King or Oscar De La Hoya would have been. They probably would have had him fighting for the title last year. Peltz has fed Jones a steady diet of Latin fighters with 10 in his 19 victories and the last 7 including his next opponent on February 27th, at Bally’s in Atlantic City. This match will be on Fox Sports Spanish Network. Jones has been on a couple of Comcast shows and going back to the last non Latin fighter he fought, Germaine Sanders, 27-5, he made his ESPN2 debut. “This fight will be on Fox Sports Spanish/English network with Comcast picking it up so Mike will get the exposure he needs throughout the country,” said Nowicki. If there’s been one thing the career of Jones suffers from its few seem to know Jones outside of Philadelphia.

The promises of HBO and Showtime by Peltz are starting to fall on deaf ears. Jones has done all that has been asked of him. “I just have to keep focused and center on my next opponent by keeping in the best possible shape I can,” said Jones. Jones is a family man who also works a full time job showing he’s a very responsible young man.

Whether he was at the New Alhambra (Now Arena) in South Philly or the legendary Blue Horizon in North Philly, Jones packs them in. Jones had 11 appearances at the Alhambra before going to upstate Reading in December of 2008 against Luciano Perez, 16-8-1, over the Telefutura network. “It was nice knowing I fought at the Blue once and have moved onto Atlantic City but I am looking to branch out for bigger and better things,” said Jones. “It’s no secret that Peltz has made it clear he isn’t about to share Jones with another promoter,” said Jackson. “If it weren’t for Jones, Peltz would have retired by now,” said Nowicki. This will be a co-promotion with Top Rank who promotes Manny Pacquaio the WBO champion.

In that last appearance at the Alhambra, Jones won the vacant NABA welterweight title stopping Juliano Ramos, 15-1, of Brazil. “We’re looking to possibly fight Hector Saldivia who holds the (LAC) title and ranked #5 in the WBA,” said Nowicki. Jones is #8 in the WBA. The Ramos stoppage for Jones ended his two straight decisions wins after scoring 12 straight knockouts in his first 12 fights. “I had a problem with my shoulder in the fight with Arroyo and knew he could take a punch, but felt I would have taken him out under normal circumstances,” said Jones.

In 2007 Jones posted a 7-0 record. The last opponent of that year was Israel Cardona, 36-7, who had only been stopped once in his 43 fights. He was no match for the much taller Jones and was stopped in the 3rd round. To the credit of Peltz he has had to deal with too many opponent fallouts like Larry Mosley twice and even Jones once and they still never met. One fill in opponent to start 2009 off in March was Dairo Esalas, 31-15, of Colombia who had a win over former light welter champ DeMarcus Corley and then 25-1, Terrance Cauthen. It was a NABA title defense and Jones blew him out in the 2nd round in what was the only appearance for Jones at the Blue.

In June, it was Jones pulling out on Mosley with the re-scheduled fight in August when Mosley pulled out again causing Peltz to bring in the former WBC Latino light welter in Lenin Arroyo, 20-9-1, in another NABA defense. This was the first appearance for Jones in Atlantic City, at Bally’s. When this writer saw Arroyo it was like David vs Goliath knowing Jones had to end it though Jones opponent had never been stopped even by former champ Randall Bailey, though he had Arroyo on the canvas once. After 10 rounds Arroyo was still there and the fans were also cheering for Arroyo’s courage to go the distance.

In his last bout in November back to Bally’s, Jones, faced Raul Pinzon, 16-3, former Colombian light middleweight champion, giving away 5 pounds to his opponent who was there to be hit until crumbling in the 5th round to the packed house’s cheering on their favorite Philly fighter. Pinzon was a substitute for Richard Gutierrez, 24-4, who had a draw and two losses in his last three fights. Even a proposed fight with veteran Ben Tackie had fallen out. It makes one wonder if they don’t know Jones at first and then find a tape on him and have second thoughts. “We took Mike to New York at a gym where they didn’t know his name, but they did by the time he left,” said Williams.

On a night when that piston like jab of his is working, Jones is a pleasure to watch. He reminds you of the Philly fighters of the past. There’s a good chance the best of Jones will come out with better competition. Andre Berto came up without much competition to win his WBC title. Jan Zaveck of Slovenia, fighting out of Germany, came out of nowhere to take the IBF title from Isaac Hlatshwayo in South Africa by knockout. Chances are Jones would have done the same if he had taken the same venture. Jones is ranked #11 in the IBF ratings. “We really didn’t want to take Jones to South Africa or some other foreign country knowing without a knockout you don’t win and sometimes that may not be enough (disqualification?),” said Nowicki. It looks like Zaveck’s first fight will be with Poland’s Rafael Jackiewicz, the European champ. Jackiewicz dealt Zaveck his only loss by split decision in Poland.

Jackson, Nowicki, Williams and especially Jones are waiting for that HBO or Showtime fight even if it’s on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey. Speaking of Clottey, Peltz was in the midst of arranging a Jones match with him when the Pacquiao and Mayweather proposed fight fell through. Pacquiao and Clottey will do battle March 13th in Dallas in a WBO title bout. Another possibility would be under the Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman WBA light middleweight championship bout June 12th at Madison Square Garden. Berto who is with DiBella Entertainment is currently in Haiti helping out with the earthquake victims and may be awaiting the Pacquiao and Clottey winner. Mayweather and Mosley will meet May 1st on HBO. This will be a Golden Boy promotion. With all this talk about the next fight Bruseles cannot be overlooked. He’s won 7 straight since losing to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in 2005, with Ben Tackie and former champion Cesar Bazan among his victims.

The 1,500 seating capacity at Bally’s Ballroom is sold out for this one. Jones could possibly have doubled that attendance in a larger room. This has to be the break out year for Jones for even the pro-Peltz local media will have to join this writer in demanding Peltz to come up with a title shot for Jones. If Peltz can’t “pull the trigger” and get Jones that shot than he’s going to have to bring one of the big time promoters into the fold who has one of the champions to fulfill “MJ”s destiny to be world champion!

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Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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