Twenty years ago, Roy Jones Jr. was getting jobbed by an electronic scoring system in Seoul, Korea. Fourteen years ago, Jones won his first two world titles (at 160 and 168 pounds). Just under 12 years ago he began his dominant six-year reign as the pound-for-pound king at light heavyweight.
Today, Jones turns 39.
According to Jones, who faces Felix Trinidad Saturday at Madison Square Garden in the 12-round main event of an HBO Pay-Per-View-televised card, he's not surprised he's still in the ring.
"That is the reason why I never wanted to drink and I never wanted to smoke. Because I wanted to be able to perform at any time and at any age if I had to," said Jones, 51-4 with 38 knockouts, in a conference call last week. "I wanted to keep my options open because I didn't know what would happen in my career.
"But I don't know when I am going to leave. Whatever (God) says, I have to go do. It wasn't my call. I didn't know when I was going to come here. How will I know when I am going to leave? I didn't know what He had planned for me. What He had planned for me was to go further than I would have wanted to go."
And what a journey it's been. Jones became the first man since Bob Fitzsimmons to have won titles at middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, when he took a 12-round decision over John Ruiz in 2003.
Now, after suffering two crushing knockouts to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson - and with "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather the reigning pound-for-pound king -Jones is in the unfamiliar position of answering questions like why he hasn't scored a knockout in his last seven fights.
"You have to look at it like this: Superman had to gain a lot of weight to fight at heavyweight," Jones said of his new alter ego (it used to be R.J.). "I had to take off a lot of weight to go back down. That was all muscle. It took me a while to get back to where I feel good again. When I added all of that muscle and then had to lose it, I don't think people were paying attention.
"I won the heavyweight title then came back to win the light heavyweight title (again). If you didn't win the heavyweight title then go back down to win the light heavyweight title, then you didn't do what Bob Fitzsimmons did."
Jones has had only three fights in the last 3 1/2 years since suffering his second consecutive knockout at the hands of Johnson: He lost a 12-round decision to Tarver in their rubber match (he won the first fight by majority decision) and beat Prince Badi Amaju in 2006 and Anthony Hanshaw in 2007.
Trinidad, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has won titles at 147, 154 and 160, but has fought only three times since losing via 11th-round knockout to Bernard Hopkins in 2001. He stopped Hacine Cherifi in four (2002), Ricardo Mayorga in eight (2004) and lost a one-sided decision to Winky Wright in May 2005.
Jones, of Pensacola, Fla., said just beating Trinidad wouldn't be enough.
"He is smaller than me and it will be hard to not try to knock him out," Jones said. "Trust me, he is not going to go 12 rounds with me. A win doesn't mean much. He's got to go. He's got to go in fo'. I really don't care when; he's just got to go."
Jones said Trinidad's reason for returning against Jones after a 32-month retirement isn't that hard to figure out.
"He wanted to fight somebody with a bigger name," Jones said. "If he fights a person like me, I am explosive with both hands, so he knows he has to come in on top of his game - he knows he has to get himself ready. If he fought somebody like a Bernard Hopkins or a Winky Wright, he wouldn't have to get himself that ready because they are not power punchers.
"If you put a power puncher in with a boxer, the power puncher is usually going to get beat because those guys will just stay away and outbox them. So he knows Roy is going to be right there in front of him. He asked for me. I didn't ask for him."
Jones said that if he hadn't lost to Tarver and Johnson, he'd probably be retired.
"If I beat them I probably would have walked away," Jones said. "(God) knows what He wanted, not me. But I would have cheated the world out of a whole lot of blessings that He gave me. I feel like there is a lot more entertainment for me to give this sport than I had let them see already.
"When they robbed me of the (Olympic) gold medal, He knew what that would do to me. It would make me come back and show the world that I would be the best professional fighter ever. And I did that. I want to go out the way I want to go. If they beat me being myself, then that's it. Right now I am back to being me. I am back - 100 percent."
And Jones isn't planning on retiring anytime soon. He said he'd fight Hopkins (whom he beat for his first title - the IBF middleweight championship), but he felt that "The Executioner" isn't serious about the possible matchup.
Jones did say he'd face Calzaghe - even in the United Kingdom - if he defeats Hopkins in their proposed April 12 match, which will be possibly held in Las Vegas.
"If they sign to fight on January 20th, after I get out of the ring against Trinidad, I will go straight to the UK for sure," Jones said. "I love Calzaghe, don't get me wrong. I think he is one of the best super middleweights to come along.
"The way I look at things, I try to be as fair as I possibly can. I look at the way the world goes and I want to be fair. Now (Ricky) Hatton came over here to fight Floyd Mayweather, now maybe it is our turn to go over there."
Jones said he'd even fight the winner of a rumored Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield rubber match, or anyone else for that matter.
"I would fight Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Chad Dawson - I don't care," Jones said. "Let me tell you one more time: My time, my probation period is over. I don't care who he is. Line them up and I'll go to them. I don't care where he's at.
"If we have to go to London to fight Joe, if we have to go to Tampa to fight Tarver, or if we have to go to Miami to fight Glen. I don't care. My name is Roy Jones Jr. I am Superman and I don't care about anybody else.
"I can get a title shot any time I want to. They know I can beat 110 percent of the champions out there right now. I just have to be motivated. Most of them are going to be trying to not give me a shot."
Jones said it all starts with Trinidad.
"I am going to give you a show regardless of who or what is on the other side," Jones said. "Now, with 'Tito' Trinidad on the other side, he comes to fight all day long. He's bringing his left hook to the game and he thinks he is going to knock me out if he can land it.
"You want to see a wonderful fight and you want to see a good fight with him getting knocked out, then you want to put your money down and check it out on January 19."
The card begins at 6 p.m.