Mike Jones: Preparing To Defend
His Title Against Larry Mosley

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: James Donaldson

The signs are there. Heading into Atlantic City, you will see the billboard advertising it. As you get off the A.C. Expressway and come to the midtown, above you larger than life and flashing on the electronic sign at Caesar’s, you will see it. And strategically placed around Bally’s casino, you will see it. The signs are all around Atlantic City advertising the June 6 fight between NABA welterweight champion Mike “MJ” Jones and Larry Mosley.

Mike Jones will tell you that Larry Mosley “is probably the best boxer I have ever fought, so far.” And MJ is making sure that he is ready for this fight. He is spending the month at camp outside of Philadelphia, away from the normal distractions of everyday life. The gym where MJ trains in Philadelphia would remind you of the type of gym boxers trained in days gone by, something like Mick’s gym in Rocky. The Hard Rock Gym in Fairless Hills, PA, where MJ holds his camp, has a more modern feel, newer and brighter. But the team is still the same. Managers Doc Nowicki and Jim Williams are there looking on, as well as promoter Russell Peltz. And maybe most importantly, Vaughn Jackson is still training MJ.

On this particular day when I arrive, MJ is getting ready for a sparring session. MJ is off alone, away from everyone else, getting into that place that boxers need to be before they get into the ring. He is shadow boxing, not paying any attention to the other people in the room. His eyes look totally focused on an unseen opponent. And after some time spent doing this, MJ is ready to get into the ring.

Vaughn has three sparring partners lined up for MJ. They are Eddie Edmonds, Jerome Ellis, and Ronald Cruz. Edmonds steps into the ring first, and it looks like a normal sparring session. But two things seem noticeable right away. First is that the time between rounds seems much shorter. No minute rest between rounds, just thirty seconds. The second, and this took me a few rounds to realize, is that the rounds are actually longer than three minutes. They are fighting four minute rounds.

The other thing that quickly becomes apparent is that MJ and his sparring partners are not holding anything back. Except for the protective gear, this could be a fight on any card and the fans would not be disappointed.

After two rounds, Edmonds leaves the ring and Jerome Ellis enters. There is no let up for Jones. Ellis is giving him a fight worthy of a champion. MJ, although he is not as rested as Ellis, looks as good as he did the first round. And this is the point. As soon as Vaughn sees any fatigue in MJ’s sparring partner, he switches to another partner. MJ is always fighting a fresh partner, while he is getting no break. After three rounds, Ellis is out and Ronald Cruz enters. Cruz spars with MJ for three rounds and then Edmonds is back in the ring. And this is how it goes for twelve rounds. Twelve four minute rounds, which makes for the equivalent of a sixteen round fight.

After the sparring session, several people in the room joke that they feel exhausted for MJ. And believe me, an hour in the ring fighting at this intensity would be exhausting for most. The only person that does not seem to be bothered by the length of the session is Mike Jones. And this is a good thing. He is the one that will have to climb into the ring and face Larry Mosley.

After MJ has a few minutes to unwind, I get a chance to talk to him. And the first thing that I have to ask him is about his health. The last time I interviewed him was before the Perez fight, and he was keeping an injured hand a secret from all of us in the press. But he assured me that there are no surprises this time. “I feel good,” he told me with confidence. He also told me that he learned an important lesson from the Perez fight. “I learned not to go in there with my hand injured.” And as far as learning experiences, MJ points to the Germaine Sanders fight as an important fight. “I learned how to survive in the Germaine Sanders fight when I got buzzed.”

However, this fight is not about the past. This fight is about MJ and Larry Mosley. When asked whether or not Mosley is the biggest challenge he has had to face, he says, “Yeah, maybe. I know he is probably the best boxer I have fought so far.” But that has not changed MJ’s training. “I am doing the same thing I’ve been doing. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.” And it has been working in the past. As far as challenges, MJ points to Mosley’s hand speed. “He may be the fastest fighter that I have fought as a professional.” When I ask him whether or not that he is worried that Mosley might have something to prove since he has lost his last two fights, he notes that everyone he fights has something to prove. “They might have had a bad previous fight but when they get up to fight me, they get up to fight me. Maybe because I am the champion, NABA champion. When they fight Mike Jones they got something to prove.”

June 6 at Bally’s in Atlantic City will be the fight. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or by calling Peltz Boxing at (215) 765-0922. One last word from Mike Jones: “I worked hard for this fight, expect from me to put on a great show in Atlantic City June 6. I am coming there to fight.”