Three years ago, Lou Del Valle worked for Roy Jones Jr. as a sparring partner. On Saturday night, in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Del Valle found out Jones is still the boss.
Jones pounded Del Valle's face lumpy, hurt him with body shots and found time to showboat, too, as he won a clear-cut unanimous 12-round decision.But before Del Valle lost the WBA light heavyweight title to Jones, the WBC 175-pound champion, he brought the crowd to its feet by knocking Jones down in the eighth round.
"I had a premonition I would get knocked down," Jones said, adding that was one reason he didn't want to fight a former sparring partner who would be more familiar with his style.
Jones said the fact that the left-handed Del Valle had boxed with him before is the reason he sometimes switched to a left-handed style himself, trying to confuse his opponent.
After Del Valle's brief moment in the spotlight, Jones took control again but stopped the showboating.
Jones had just too much power and too much speed for Del Valle, who was paid $750 a week when he sparred with Jones in 1995. On Saturday night, Del Valle got $850,000 and he earned it.
Jones blasted him with rights to the head, left hooks and both hands to the body, and Del Valle had no answer except his courage.
Jones rocked Del Valle several times and cut him over the left eye with an accidental head butt in the seventh round. By that time, the left side of Del Valle's face was badly swollen and the right side was puffed as well.
Jones was doing his thing again in the eighth round when, with 35 seconds left, the Del Valle landed a right-left to the head that dropped Jones for a five-count.
"My foot slipped but he hit me," Jones said. "I was shocked, but I said to myself, `I'll take the knockdown."'
Del Valle simply had nothing with which to follow up that advantage.
However, that knockdown was the highlight of the fight for most of the 4,519 fans in the 5,200-seat arena.
Judge Duane Ford scored it 119-108 for Jones and Marty Denkin and Fred Ucci each favored Jones 118-109.
The AP scored it 118-109 for Jones.
"He's a great fighter," Del Valle said. "I'm a good fighter. I respect him. I gave him too much respect. I could have fought him better."
"He's not the toughest fighter I've fought, it's just that he knows me from all the sparring," Jones said.
Jones, 29, who weighed the class limit of 175 pounds, got $2 million for his 37th victory against one defeat. He couldn't register his 32nd knockout.
The 30-year-old Del Valle, 175, is 27-2 with 19 knockouts.
On the undercard, Derrick "Smoke" Gainer twice knocked down former WBC featherweight champion Kevin Kelley and won a unanimous 10-round decision. Kelley went down in the first and seventh rounds as Gainer (24-4, 16 knockouts) avenged a knockout loss to Kelley (48-3-2, 32 knockouts) in 1996. Both fighters weighed 126.