Barry Jones

Ronnie Rush and Barry Jones (Photo: Barry Jones, Twitter)

Ronnie Rush and Barry Jones (Photo: Barry Jones, Twitter)

Barry Jones (b. 1974) was a talented amateur and hard-working pro whose graft took him to a deserved world title.

The Ely man was denied the chance to capitalise on his hard-earned crown, though, through a most unfortunate mixture of medical issues and rule -making confusion.

After a fine amateur career that saw him win a European silver medal, the skilful but light-hitting Jones turned professional at the age of 18 in 1992, under trainer Pat Thomas.

He embarked on a long, unbeaten run of success, many of the shows in his home town of Cardiff, but progress towards the limelight was slow, while personal problems even saw him spend a year out of the ring in 1995-6.

Jones won the IBF Inter-Continental super-featherweight title in 1997, then on 19 December of that year landed a shot against Colombian Wilson Palacio for the vacant WBO world crown.

Jones used his skills to secure a comfortable, unanimous points victory at the London Arena, and was ready to cash in on his triumph with an anticipated £70,000 purse for travelling to Paris to face mandatory challenger Julien Lorcy.

This would have been by far the biggest payday of the Welshman’s career, but during the preparations a routine medical showed an anomaly on Jones’ brain.

The British Boxing board of Control were in conservative mood following the brain injury suffered by Michael Watson, and Jones’s boxing licence was suspended.

“It’s a sickener that it had to happen now,” said a devastated Jones. “This was going to be the deposit on my house. Now I’ve got nothing, not even a job.”

Jones embarked on a tortuous appeal procedure that took seven months to find in his favour, but by then he had already been stripped of his title.

The WBO belt had passed to devastating Brazilian puncher Acelino Freitas, a formidable brawler who had stopped all 23 of his opponents.

Jones was given a shot at the South American at the Doncaster Dome on 15 January, 2000, and the former champion’s hopes were raised by Freitas’s terrible preparations, characterised by arguments over money that continued almost until the first bell.

As the two fighters stepped out for the first round, Jones stunned the boxing world by dropping Freitas with his first punch.

Unfortunately for the Welshman, the champion soon got up.

Jones would later claim that the initial knock-down was the worst thing that could have happened as he abandoned his boxing game plan and went looking for the knock out.

This played into Freitas’s hands, and the Brazilian dropped Jones heavily twice in the opening session – the first time that he had tasted canvas as either an amateur or professionalism.

The Welshman went down four more times before the towel was thrown in in the eighth, handing Jones his only defeat of a 20-fight professional career.

He never fought again, but has stayed in the game as a well-respected television pundit.

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