Roy Jones Jr: Jared Anderson can be America's next world heavyweight champion

Roy Jones Jr has described as “very unfair” suggestions that Jared Anderson showed he lacked the heart to fulfil his potential when they were filmed having an emotional conversation.

He has also predicted his fellow American will one day reign as a world heavyweight champion.

The great Jones Jr established himself, in his prime, as one of the finest fighters in history. As a consequence of his once-rich promise he recognises of Anderson the expectation that he will one day be among the greatest in the world.

Not since Evander Holyfield was dethroned as champion by Lennox Lewis in 1999 has an American been recognised as the world’s leading heavyweight, but perhaps even more so than once applied to the often-devastating Deontay Wilder, Anderson is widely expected to prove a future great. 

He was 23 when in the summer of 2023 he was filmed working with Jones Jr, by then established as a trainer, and at a time when he is reportedly on course to fight for the first time in 2024, against Belgium’s Ryad Merhy on April 13 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jones Jr has leaped to his defence.

The emotional Anderson’s willingness to speak to Jones Jr about the pressure of expectation contributed to observers accusing him of lacking the mental strength to prove the heavyweight of the coming era.

“The higher power gave you more,” Jones Jr had been filmed saying to him. “When there’s more given, there’s more expected.

“It’s the pressure though,” Anderson, also on camera, replied.

“I understand the pressure,” said Jones Jr. “But God built us different – didn’t you just tell me that?”

“I’m 23,” Anderson said.

“So sometimes there’s a lot put on us,” Jones Jr responded. “But it’s put on us because we’re the ones that can take it. Jared may not think he can sometimes. Jared may get messed up sometimes. But Jared can wear these shoes. That’s why Jared has it. You understand me?”

“But Jared ain’t aksed for it,” Anderson, on the verge of tears, then said.

“Too bad,” said Jones Jr. “Jared has a destiny that Jared can’t run from. And Jared ain’t no coward. I would know that, right? So Jared need to make up his mind, and let’s go. You got to ride that horse, son. I’m sorry. You gotta ride that horse. I rode it. 

“You ain’t gotta ride it ‘till the wheels come off, but you gotta ride it. You gotta ride it until you get to where you wanna be in life; then you can get off of it. You gotta ride that horse. That’s just what you gotta do.”

The 55-year-old Jones Jr won the WBA heavyweight title when he so impressively outpointed John Ruiz in 2003, and asked to what extent those scenes had been edited, he told ProBox TV: “They showed everything. 

“They didn’t script or expect it to go that way – they showed everything. Every second we spent together they showed it. 

“He can be a world heavyweight champion. If he goes the right way, he can be heavyweight champion of the world.

“[It’s] very unfair [to suggest he showed a lack of heart]. Very unfair.”