Watching sports in the social media era we dwell in, I often think about how some of the biggest names from past generations would handle themselves today. At least one former superstar athlete from the ‘90s and ‘00s has confirmed how he would have dealt with social media trolls had Twitter and others existed in his fighting days.
During a recent interview, former multiple weight-class world champion Roy Jones Jr. was asked if he’d be able to make it in the social media age of sports. Jones’ answer was quick and straight to the point.
“No, I wouldn’t, because I’d go to jail,” Jones said. “Because if you talk about me on social media, I’d hit you in the mouth. So, when I see you, I’ll go to jail.”
While Jones says this with a bit of a smirk, I wouldn’t want to be the person to test him on this whether I was another boxer or just your typical Twitter troll. Imagine talking trash to Roy on social media, then somehow end up in the same place at the same time as the champ. I’m sure he wouldn’t hurt a regular civilian, but another fighter might be fair game.
The social media talk discussion came about from a fighter Jones is coaching named Chris Eubank Jr. During Eubank’s press conference for Saturday night’s fight against Wanik Awdijan, he called out Awdijan for talking crazy on social media. Eubank then decided to do his talking in the ring, forcing a fifth-round stoppage after Awdijan refused to leave his corner for the sixth round.
Although Jones made his comments about punching guys in the mouth for talking on social media, I can imagine him running up on an opponent before or after a fight and inflicting just a little extra punishment for something they said about him online.
The number of athletes today who can keep their beef online is somewhat remarkable. With so many insults being hurled back and forth online, I wonder how we don’t hear about more confrontations happening because somebody went a little too far roasting an opponent on Twitter. Fans are one thing, but when it comes from a peer, that’s another story and has to sting that much more.
Luckily for Jones and other big-name athletes of the ‘90s, they didn’t have to deal with any social media in their day. A guy like Charles Barkley would likely be in police custody regularly for smacking somebody for something they said about him on social media. After all, Barkley did pick a fight with Shaquille O’Neal years ago. (See here).