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Gloves Off: Roy Jones Jr. tells Josh Samman about playing air hockey with young Dana White

In this feature interview with boxing legend RJJ, the champ opens up about his relationship with UFC President Dana White, his love of MMA, and his upcoming fight in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida.

Anton Tabuena/Bloody Elbow

Human highlight reel and former multi-division title holder Roy Jones Jr. will be stepping into the ring on Saturday night for the 69th time in his professional career when he faces cruiserweight Paul Vasquez for Island Fights 33rd event. Island Fights, originally one of Florida's largest amateur MMA organizations, has partnered with Jones' Square Ring Promotions to host a professional fight card with both MMA and boxing bouts. Roy, who is on a six fight winning streak with three finishes, is headlining the card, which will be held at Pensacola Civic Center.

JS: Your upcoming fight was announced just a few weeks before the event. Had you guys been planning this all along, or was it spur of the moment after your last win?

RJJ: It was actually spur of the moment before the last win. They said "Hey, you’re fighting this weekend, if you don’t get cut, could you fight again on the 28th? We’d like you to come in." I said "Well I’m in shape, why not? I should be able to hold it together for another three weeks. Sign me up."

JS: Who’s next after Vasquez, and is there any HBO PPV in your future?

RJJ: I commentate with them, but I’m not really sure whether or not there’s any HBO PPV in my future. There is some kind of PPV. I wanna fight Marco Huck towards the end of the year for that cruiserweight title, so there is gonna be some kind of PPV in the near future.

I don’t wanna get to heaven and have God say "You could have won a world title at 46, why didn’t you try?"-Roy Jones Jr

JS: You were named boxer of the decade in the 90’s and an Olympic medalist in '88. Here we are 27 years after those games and you’re on a strong winning streak again. What keeps you motivated this long?

RJJ: The main thing is that God gave us talent. You know, you compete (speaking personally to interviewer), like you with that kick. What keeps me motivated are things like that. We have talent that other guys dream of having. When you have a gift, you have to use it to the fullest. I don’t wanna get to heaven and have God say "You could have won a world title at 46, why didn’t you try?" Then I’m gonna feel bad. He's gonna say "Why did I give you that gift if you ain’t gonna use it?" I gotta use it til I can’t use it no more. When I close up shop, it’ll be because I know I’m done and I can’t do it no more. Until then I’m wide open.

JS: How did you link up with Island Fights promoter Dean Toole?

RJJ: I met Dean through a friend of mine named JP, then again through my partner Charles. And we were always friends, always watching MMA fights. I’ve always been an MMA fan my entire life, or since it first came around anyway. I always tip my hat off to a man that will fight another man, hand to hand, you just have more respect for a person like that. Anyways, we all became friends through that, and finally Dean said "I’m promoting these Island Fights, but I’m ready to turn these guys professional, would you guys want to team up and help me?" And I thought it was a great idea for me to delve even more into MMA, and because of my love for the sport I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.

He was a cool dude so I had no problem spending time with him, and he just never forgot that. And man it’s a great thing, I’m glad I did, cause look who he's grown into.-Roy Jones Jr. (on Dana White)

JS: Speaking of promoters, how did you and Dana White become friends?

RJJ: Dana was around when I was going to fight James Toney, and he was just a young guy. He was around the press conference, and after I got done with the press conference, he asked if he could hang around for a while. I told him "Come on!" and he came, and we went downstairs and played a few games of air hockey. Air hockey is my favorite game. I hung out with him, let him enjoy himself, and he seemed very interested and he was a cool dude so I had no problem spending time with him, and he just never forgot that. And man it’s a great thing, I’m glad I did, cause look who he's grown into.

JS: Dana and the Fertittas are on the verge of implementing more rigorous drug testing in the UFC and we’ve seen several failures. Do you feel like PED’s are a problem in boxing as well?

RJJ: PED's are a problem in every sport. I’m gonna tell you why it’s a problem. You got guys that go from nobody to being somebody, or maybe guys that aren’t that good but want to be in big money fights and big money contracts. Guys are worried about feeding their kids in the future, and it makes it more likely for them to take that chance. Guys are like "If I’m gonna get that kind of money with them, and I’m not gonna make that kinda money without them, I’d be crazy not to." Think about the money Lance Armstrong made, or some of the money some of these other guys made. Guys will mess themselves up, or mess their lives up, just to make a better life for their kids, so I think it becomes a problem in every sport.

JS: We've heard of various match ups between MMA fighters and yourself in a boxing match. The last potential opponent I had heard was UFC veteran Din Thomas, which was turned down by the Florida Boxing Commission. Is this something you see realistically happening, you vs. an MMA fighter?

RJJ: This is gonna happen. Chris Lytle has a boxing good record, and he’s also been trying to find a fight with me. It’s gonna happen sooner or later. The Florida commission may not have wanted me to fight that guy, but there are other states, other commissions, and other MMA guys who box, and at one point me and one of those guys will cross paths. It’s not just about the competition part for me, it’s about people loving me, people loving them, and the people deserve that. We got everyone’s mouth watering, and I love having the opportunity to give the people what they want. At some point the two worlds have to come together. It’s gonna happen.

JS: Besides Anderson Silva, who gets Roy Jones out of his chair when they fight?

RJJ: (Island Fights Superheavyweight) Chris Barnett is my second favorite guy out of all of them. He is like the most exciting whirlwind of an MMA fighter. The thing I like about him the most is that he is a show. He don’t just give you a fight, he gives you a show. But I can’t lie, I like alot of these guys. I like Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Urijah Faber, a lot of guys.

JS: You've done it all from music, acting, promoting, and of course fighting. Anything on the horizon? Will we see Mayor RJJ?

RJJ: You may not see the political Jones, but you will hear that Body Head Bangerz: Volume Two coming up. You better believe I’m gettin’ back in the studio.

Follow Roy and Josh on twitter.

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