Jones the boxer to try for net gains

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The Independent Online

Budweiser League officials have said it is not a hoax. Roy Jones Jnr, the International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champion, is ready to quit the sport to pursue a basketball career in England.

League and club officials said yesterday that Jones plans to retire after his defence on 12 January against Merqui Sosa and come to England for a trial with the London Towers.

"It's extremely serious," Rob Webb, the Budweiser League spokesman, said. "This is real. We've been in regular contact with his agent. It's very much the case that he'll call boxing a day after his fight and will come and try out with the Towers. He'll have to prove himself. If he doesn't make it in London, he can try out with some other clubs."

Jones, considered the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, is reported to be a good basketball prospect, who has practiced recently with the New York Knicks.

"He's really using us," Rich Dennis, the Towers spokesman, said. "The NBA is his objective. It would be his stepping stone to get some pro experience." Dennis said Jones is expected to arrive during the third week of January, though there is no guarantee he will be good enough join the club.

English teams can field two overseas players. The Towers, who lead the league by six points, already have two Americans, the guard Danny Lewis and the forward Tony Windless.

Dennis said Jones, who is 5ft 11in, would have to beat out Lewis for the guard position. "It's too early to judge whether he would make it or not," Dennis said. "He will have to be pretty outstanding prospect for the coach to change the team at this stage." Jones, who makes millions of dollars as a boxer, stands to take a huge pay cut if he plays basketball in England.