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DON'T NEED TO BE COY (OR BORING), ROY.

Byline: Michael Rosenthal Boxing

Roy Jones Jr. must realize that the more bums he fights, the more respect he loses.

OK, all great fighters periodically face unworthy challengers, as Jones did when he stopped unworthy Richard Hall in 11 rounds to retain the undisputed light heavyweight championship Saturday in Indianapolis.

And, of course, it's unlikely anyone is going to beat the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

However, there are meaningful challenges out there for Jones (42-1, with 34 knockouts) and he's not taking them.

He talks about fighting a heavyweight, which is intriguing. Maybe he'll try to lure the winner of the June 10 Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz title fight into the ring. He probably could beat Ruiz.

He might not have to reach that high to find an interesting opponent, though. How about the cruiserweights?

Undefeated Vassiliy Jirov, the IBF cruiserweight champ, might not have the speed to cope with Jones, but at least he's earned the right to give it a shot.

Same goes for Fabrice Tiozzo, the WBA cruiserweight titleholder.

Jones can even find a reasonable opponent in his own weight class. Unbeaten Dariusz Michalczewski and Graciano Rocchigiani have been among the best light heavies for years and are worthy challengers.

OK, these Europeans, who are making plenty of money facing nobodies at home, want to fight Jones in Europe if they fight him at all.

And who could blame Jones if he doesn't want to fight in hostile territory. Of course, the Europeans feel the same way about fighting in the United States.

Still, Jones must do something if he doesn't want to be remembered as an immensely talented fighter who never really had the chance to prove his greatness.

Find a way to lure the Europeans here. The right amount of money can be persuasive. Or fight there and win by such a large margin that no one could score the fight against you.

Or fight Jirov, who is based here and will fight here. This would probably would be the easiest fight to make.

Or stop talking about fighting a heavyweight and fight one, even a marginal one. At least we'll see what Jones has against a bigger, stronger opponent.

Just do something. We're tired of meaningless exhibitions. We want a fight.

For Elian: Joel Casamayor of Cuba, who challenges WBA super featherweight champion Jong Kwon Baek on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo., has dedicated the fight to Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban at the center of a custody battle between two countries.

Casamayor, who trains with Joe Goossen in Van Nuys, won't discuss the situation in detail because he wants to protect relatives remaining in Cuba.

However, he did take a stand: He believes father and son should remain in the United States.

``They should've let him stay here,'' he said through an interpreter. ``I feel bad for him, for all he's been through.

``That's why I dedicate this fight to him.''

Casamayor (20-0, 12 KOs) has been successful since he defected to the U.S. in 1996. However, his biggest fight might be in the near future: He wants to face WBC champ Floyd Mayweather and prove he's one of the best fighters in the world.

``I gotta take the title from this guy first. Then I want to start making big money against big fighters,'' he said.

Sunday's fight is on Fox Sports Net.

Heavy stuff: As bad as the heavyweight division is, fans will get their fill of the big boys in the next several weeks.

Scheduled to fight are Oleg Maskaev (against Derrick Jefferson on Saturday on HBO), Hasim Rahman (Corrie Sanders, on the same card), David Tua (Obed Sullivan, June 3, Showtime), Holyfield (Ruiz, Showtime), Andrew Golota (Orlin Norris, June 11, Showtime) and Mike Tyson (Lou Savarase, June 24, Showtime).

Also, on May 25 on DirecTV, four familiar heavyweights hoping to reestablish themselves are on the same card: Ray Mercer (Anthony Wills), Oliver McCall (Marcus McIntyre), Larry Donald (Phil Jackson) and Henry Akinwande (Russell Chasteen).

That's a lot of big-name heavyweights. However, notice how many of the matchups are compelling: none.

A case could be made for Holyfield-Ruiz because a title (WBA) is at stake and Maskaev-Jefferson could be entertaining - but we're reaching.

Rabbit punches: Valley-based heavyweight Lance Whitaker, recovering from a knee injury, is back in training and could fight as soon as next month. . . .

Jirov will face Esteban Pizarro in a 10-round bout on a special card Friday at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills. Eric ``Butterbean'' Esch and Mia St. John also will fight.

Only invited guests will attend. . . .

Add another name to the daughter-turned-fighter list: Maria Johansson, the daughter of former heavyweight champ Ingemar Johansson, who will face Freed Foreman (George Foreman) on June 18 - Father's Day.

Hector Camacho Jr. will face Manard Reed on that card, which will be televised by Fox Sports Net. . . .

Boxing fans never forget great fighters - or great fights.

A luncheon to commemorate the 1974 brawl between Bobby Chacon and Danny ``Little Red'' Lopez scheduled for May 26th at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Hollywood is sold out.

Chacon, a Valley product, stopped the then-unbeaten Lopez in nine rounds in front of 16,080 at the Sports Arena.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 15, 2000
Words:869
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