First thing I've got to do is to thank Barry and his partner for giving us so much of their time. The Cardiff stylist fights the devastating Brazilian puncher Acelino Freitas on January 15 in a bid to reclaim the WBO superfeatherweight title he won when he defeated the Colombian Wilson Palacio in December 1997. Barry has never been beaten in the ring, he was tragically forced to relinquish the title when there were complications with a brain scan. A lengthy battle ensued to allay any concerns the boxing Board had. Credit should be given to the WBO who have retained Barry as their No.1 contender throughout his exile from the ring. I for one have full faith in Barry's ability to frustrate Freitas in the early rounds to impose himself on the champion in the later in the fight. The interview that Barry gave us is frank and honest. Subjects such as his forthcoming fight and his enforced layoff dominated but what was particularity interesting about talking to Barry was some insightful comments Barry made about the nature of a fighters life and the commercial forces that affect them. Donald Mcrae in his book Dark Trade describes fighters as boxings only truly moral asset. Having spent time with Barry I realise how truthful this and that Barry is an exemplary example of this. Again thank you Barry!
Interview by: Gareth Welch BW - Thanks a lot for taking time out to speak to Boxing Wise. Jones - Thats OK. BW - Can I ask you about your amateur record. Jones - I had about 115 fights. I started when I was ten, I had about 4 fights and then gave up until I was about 12. I was influenced by my brother, he was British schoolboy champion and he gave up, so I did and went back into it when I was about 12 or 13. I won 2 Welsh schoolboy titles, 2 Welsh youth (senior) and then I turned pro at 18. There was a silver in the Golden Gloves, a European silver in the European juniors, and then I went to the World Junior Championships in Canada and got beat but I was a semi finalist. I knew that I was going to turn pro at 18. BW - Didn't you turn pro with Dai Gardener as your trainer? Jones - No I never no, no. I turned pro with Pat Thomas, he was light Welterweight Champ and Billy Ayers. It was one of my biggest regrets to be honest that Billy wasn't a millionaire. I'm with Frank Warren now and although they have got the money and the oppurtunities.... I'm not saying that they are insincere but it lacks the personal touch. With Billy and Pat it wasn't like I was their son but there was a family atmosphere. If I took a punch they took a punch it was that kind of scenario. I had 12 fights with Pat and Billy and after a year and a half it was obvious that I was not going to go anywhere with then. I had a three year contract and after that I had to leave, it was very hard to do, but I did leave in the end. Following this I had two fights with Dai Gardener and as I was a ticket seller if they could get me some sort of title fight then I would sign options on that title. Following this I went to work in Ireland and when I got back I signed with Frank (Warren). BW - It was with Warren that you got a shot at the WBO Super feather weight title. Jones - Yeah that's right, I had no trouble making Featherweight but I was offered a shot at Superfeatherweight. I think it was a case of them having a TV date to fill up and as I wasn't getting any options anywhere else so I said OK. I had a first defence then the next minute I was offered a world title shot. Totally unexpected and probably not deserved at the time but thats the way boxing is. BW - I'd like to ask you about Acelino Freitas, how much do you know about him? He's a bit of a mystery man isn't he? Jones - I don't know too much about him. He's had 22 fights and 22 KO's. and thats about all I need to know I think. BW - A lot of people are saying that he is like a young Roberto Duran... Jones - Yeah I was telling my friends about that so I'm guessing that he is very ferocious. I've got a video coming soon but as he has been knocking everyone over its hard to get hold of a decent video. BW - I know that there have been some questions regarding the quality of opposition that Freitas has been facing with the exception of Alexanderov. Jones - To KO Alexanderov he must be....... To be honest before, when Freitas was the number one contender I wasn't worried about fighting him. I was hoping that he would beat Alexanderov. Regardless of him being a puncher, if he is a come forward fighter then he will suit my style. Alexanderov is very technical and hard to hit. He would be a nightmare for me and for the public. A fight between us would be a 12 round bore. If a fighter like Freitas comes at me then it does not bother me. I'm not physically strong and I don't attempt to use my strength. I rely on my boxing skills and my brain so if they coming at me then that suits me all day long. I'm glad that Freitas won. It was just the way he won. KO'ing alexanderov in two minutes and by all accounts it was devastating. I heard he KO'ed him in 2 minutes and that Alexanderov was out for 5 minutes. Saying that, I've never been KO'ed and I've never been seriously hurt and the way I look at it is that the pressure is on him. He has to KO me and every round it goes is another in the bag for me and then it is a psychological game. If a puncher is used to Kayoing people and as the rounds go on he can see that he is not hitting me and hurting me and he has not KO'ed me then it is going to raise questions in his own mind. He will be asking questions of himself and that is my goal. Once a puncher is questioning his strength then he won't be punching with such authority so he will be swinging more,lunging more, his balance won't be there and that is when I can use my speed and combinations to hopefully take him away. The theory is quite simple but practically it can make for hard work. BW - It is the classic confrontation between boxer and puncher. Jones - Yeah I think it will be a really good fight. I'm not a big puncher, I'm an out and out boxer and he is a devastating puncher so...... BW - I think you have probably answered this already but without giving too much away how do you think you'll handle the fight tactically? Jones - I think it will be heavily psychological. I've got to really mess him around, every time he throws something I've got to use some trick. I can't let him work. I've got to cancel out everything good he does. Many American and South American fighters are really good in punching range. They slip and they move but I am never in that range. Obviously I can't dance around for 12 rounds as he will catch up with me eventually. Boxing is all about angles and I will have to give him different angles all the time. Every time I think he is settling I'll have to feint, give him a different angle, runaway, stick my hand in his face. I've got to do something to break his rhythem of attack. BW - In some ways it could equate to way De La Hoya fought Trinidad. Jones - Yeah people slagged him off but to me thats boxing. OK he faltered in the later rounds but he boxed a great fight and although he didn't beat him (Trinidad) comfortably.... BW - He still won. Jones - Yeah thats boxing for you. It's all about hitting and not getting hit. BW - American fight fans tend to want to see KO's. Jones - Yeah if you want to be a multi millionaire then you have to do things differently but if want to be known as a good boxer with the purists I think that it is about hitting and not getting hit. BW - Well I thought that was the idea of the game. Jones - I don't want to get hit, it hurts, you'd be a fool to say otherwise. I can take a punch but you know.... Pat Thomas used to say that you can't get into a bath without getting wet. So if you get into the ring then you are going to get hit. In amateur boxing, Malcolm Collins who was a very good amateur for Wales used to say "make them miss, make them pay." This is something I've carried through my Amateur and professional careers. That sums me up in a phrase. That's the way I box. I could change my style to suit the public but it could make for a short career. It breaks your heart to see some of the great fighters who are now all bashed up, battered up. BW - Did you see Ali on the TV recentently (Ali received a sportsman of the century award from Holyfield on BBC TV.) Jones - Ali I wouldn't say he was a great puncher but he seemed to take punches for the sake of it, just to prove that he could take them, to play around and do silly things when really you couldn't hit Ali with a handful of rice. If you wanted to hit him you couldn't but he had to do it to make his money. In America you've got to make a fight of it you can't win comfortably its not good enough, you've got to make a fight of it. BW - What did you think of the scoring in the De La Hoya fight and the affect of some of the recent controversial decisions have had on boxing? Jones - Yeah I was watching Darren Corbett fight on Sky the other day and to be honest he was beaten comfortably but as he went forward constantly and the judges went for the pressure but if you're not scoring they (judges) go for the aggressor if you're making the fight but thats by the by because if somebodies stronger than you then you would be a fool to go at them so you can only do what you do. People think its all about crash, bang wallop and a lot of judges think that as well. They seem to think that you have to run together and its survival of the fittest and just swing until someone goes down. They may think that a boxer may be scoring more punches but he's not making a fight of it and they are conscious of the public as well thinking that they want Trinidad tonight' so Trinidad gets the round. BW - Again it especially seems to the case in America. Jones - Yeah I don't think you've got to be a boxer to be a judge, I don't necessarily think that boxers make good judges. I myself would go for a boxer every time and a puncher would go for a puncher every time. But there should be some sort of academy for judges. BW - Yes I agree that should be a more clearly defined criteria of what they are looking for. Jones - Yeah, what I think happens now is that they are working their commission or board and they say you can have a license and then they send them to a show after a month and they judge one, referee one, and the next minute they are at a world class fight and although some are very accomplished, we have some great referees and judges in Britain, but some are stuck in their ways and there is an age factor as well. Some judges who are in their fifties and sixties may not be attuned to the evolution of boxing. It's not like it was in the sixties so they might be judging by the mentality of what it used to be like in the old days but now it is technically so different and you have to look for different things in a fight. BW - Going back to the Freitas fight it is a shame that it couldn't have happened in Cardiff. Jones - Yeah I haven't really spoken to Warren about it but it seems to be me because he is in Albuquerque with Johnny Tapia the week before and that is a big show and most of his staff will be there. He needs someone he can throw the entire show at, someone who can handle the ticketing, press and TV. I think he is working with Johnny Rushton the Doncaster promoter and thats probably the only guy he feels he can trust. There is Dai Gardener in Wales and I don't know why he hasn't used him but he probably has got some deal with Johnny. At the end of the day its not about the venue or the public, its about the TV. He knows I'll take a good crowd wherever I go. Even though I won't fill an arena they will put them (my supporters) camera facing and for the TV it will look like there is a full house but I am disappointed that it is not in Cardiff for my fans. BW - When you fought Chris Williams (June 1999) on the under card of Joe Calzaghe/ Thornberry you seemed to have the vast majority of support in the crowd. Jones - I was disappointed about that. I was supposed to come on before Joe but they put me on after. The reason being that despite Joe being an excellent fighter and we all love him and he's a good Welsh boy and he is great for TV but he doesn't sell tickets. No one knows why and they were worried that if I went on before Joe they might leave (Barry's fans). BW - As it was people were chanting your name while Joe was fighting anyway. Jones - Thats right, they put me back because it makes for a terrific atmosphere with people shouting and everything for the TV but yeah I was disappointed about that to be honest and I would have sold out anywhere (in Cardiff). BW - What do you make of the current crop of British Super Feather weights then? Jones - It's one the best divisions in Britain, there are some good fighters. I watched Dean Pithie in the week and although I think he is a good fighter... I should be careful with what I say because when you are fighting yourself if you criticise other fighters you're just setting yourself up to be knocked down. But I think he has found his level to be honest, he is a nice fella but yeah I think he has found his level. You've got to say that when he fights Michael Gomez for the British title you've got to say that Michael has got to be favourite. BW - What do you think of Michael Gomez then. Jones - Yeah he is a good fighter. I think me and Michael would make a great fight. BW - You were at the Michael Gomez / Gary Thornhill fight weren't you. Jones - Yeah I thought that would go 12 rounds. Gary Thornhill is a good fighter and Michael knocked him out with a great punch. It was text book, straight to the chin. But Gary would be a harder fight for me than Dean Pithie and possibly Michael Gomez, he would give me a lot of pressure but, I don't usually talk like this but I can't see anyone being able to beat me to be honest with you. Its not like me to talk like this but I'm feed up with being to nice, I've had up to here. There're nice guys and I've spoken to Michael and we know that me and him, on our fans alone would make a great fight. We both get great support wherever it would be it would be a sell out. But I've got to win a World Title first. Its no good fighting for a British Title. Also he is one of Frank (Warren) babies I think. Frank has got his babies like Hatton, Farnell, Joe (Calzaghe) and Michael. He is an exciting fighter and is great for TV. He is a TV dream. I think people get confused between an exciting fighter and a good fighter. BW - This is a question I was going to ask you. Obviously I know that Warren is your promoter but there has been a lot of debate recently about Sky having a detrimental affect in the long term on (British) boxing. Jones - I got to careful what I say here. Certain promoters, not just here but in the world have got a monopoly on boxing and it doesn't give a chance to other people. We've some good brokers in this country and I'm not saying that anyone is corrupt but people can be influenced by a broker (a manager), not financially but.... If boxing is in the public eye then I guess it is a good thing for British boxing and Sky is the closest that we can get I suppose. BW - I personally feel as though: if you take the classic example of the fight that was shown on Grandstand (a Saturday afternoon sports show on BBC terrestrial television) recently which had 4 million viewers Jones - Yeah and I didn't even know them. BW - And how many people watched Lewis/ Holyfield for example. Jones - Yeah I read that they had a lot more watching Grandstand. BW - Personally I think that despite Sky pumping more money into the lower levels of boxing I think that their type of coverage will have the affect of marginalising boxing. Jones - You haven't got any heroes anymore. BW - I think their decision to make it really hard to see the Oscar DeLaHoya / Trinidad fight was a prime example of that. Jones - Everyone should know who DeLaHoya is. He is a mega star in America and he should be well known over here. Because Naz is so freaky everyone knows him but Joe Calzaghe should be a much bigger name now than he is. I won a world title but I can walk around the street and have no one recognise me but if that had been on BBC like Mcguigan and although he was a good fighter when you look at what he did, in comparison to someone like Steve Robinson he didn't do all that. What? Two defences and then he got beat and although he is a great fighter because he was on BBC he is immortal now. We've got fighters now that should be in the same league but due to SKY it hasn't turned out. I think they (SKY) salvaged boxing at a time when it wasn't getting any TV. It can along at the right time I think. But of course there are monopolies in boxing. When you look at some of the people I fought Mike Deveney (Barry beat him on points in 1993), who won the British title, Neil Swain (beaten by Barry again in 93), won the Commonwealth title and Elvis Parsley, a good guy who fought for the British title and I didn't get any chances at all. I went away to work for a year, came back and signed up to Frank (Warren) had one fight which was a draw, but I had won easily, and I got a title fight like that. Not because suddenly I improved... why? Because I'm the best fighter in the world? It's obvious isn't it. I don't like to say it but why did Joe (Johnny Nelson) get his shot at Eubank? Now he probably is the best fighter in the world but at the time he wasn't deserving of it and the list goes on. BW - It's looking likely that Ricky Hatton will get a world title shot within the year. Jones - I don't think he is ready. He is an exciting fighter same as Michael Gomez, both good but people assume that exciting fighters are going to be super- stars. But saying that Hatton demolished Mark Wintours which was a good test for him. The difference between that level and world level is big but it also depends on who is the WBO champion which is the title that he will be fighting for and he will get better as he goes. If all fighters are earning lots of money I'm happy, at the end of the day we are all there for the money. We all want to be world champion, we all want the the glory but we all want to be well paid. Its hard. You go in to negotiate contracts with nothing. They (the managers) have got all the aces and they are offering you a deal and they know that they can offer a certain amount and you're trying to bargain with them and they know where their mark is and they know that you are going to take what they are offering or you will go. They know that you are not going to go because you've got nowhere to go. There are only three people I can go to in Britain. If I fell out with Frank today would I be still be number one contender? I'm not saying I wouldn't but would I? Who knows. Frank has been great to me, he has given me opputunities but I have been disappointed that I have only had one fight since getting my title back. I've been ready since November 1998. I was offered a fight in December which was too soon and I've been phoning up for a fight since February. I had one, in June, in Cardiff when I could have had four or five. I can understand Frank's point of view where for his well being he has got a number one contender and he is trying to get a deal with the champion, Alexanderov at the time, and he does not want me to fight because I might get beat or cut or anything and then he will lose the TV date which is what it is all about. So he sacrificed six months of my career to save his dates. I know that it is part of the sport but the communications factor is bad between fighters, brokers or managers, unless you are with a small time manager and he is trying to make his name with you there is no communication. It is why a lot of good fighters give up. It really is, they get no communication, they think that they are not being thought about or looked after and then you get a phone call giving you three weeks notice to fight for a title and you will take it because you have got no money and you are not really ready. That is why some great fighters and prospects have been beat in the past not because they didn't have what it takes but simply because they were not ready and needed the money. BW - How did you cope when you first received the news that there were problems with one of your brain scans and that your license was to be suspended? It must have been so disappointing to say the very least. Jones - I was training for the Laws fight and I had been to a benefit night for an amateur gym and I not home late and woke up in the morning and my father called to tell me the news. With the way I box and things I do it was freaky for me to fail a scan. Saying that it was severe. I got a call from Dave Lewis who was working for Frank at the time and I thought, shit! It wasn't the boxing, I was really scared for my health. It was like am I going to drop dead in ten minutes, it could have been anything. So I called a friend of mine, a doctor who works with the British Boxing Board and he said he would find things out for me. Then the press found out and that was hard, that first week it was so stressful with people saying "sorry about that, it is your health that is more important," and they were right. I said OK. Then I didn't hear anything for a while and then contact was made with the radiologists and when the condition was explained they okayed it in Cardiff and sent it to London showing the change. They said that they were not having that. So I went to see a brain surgeon which cost me a lot of money and he worked a lot with the boxing board as well that there was a change but he would be happy for me to continue, even though he does not agree with boxing at all. He explained that there was a change but it was not a change for the worst, it was just a change. There is no damage to the grey matter or brain tissue or anything you use to function with, it was a movement in the brains alignment with the skull, 0.2 mm. That went on then with the Boxing Board. I had a big payday coming up in France and this was when I became bitter when we had a formal meeting with the Boxing Board with a big stack of documents, a letter off the Brain surgeon who was there with the Boxing Board as they has requested him. I was there for half an hour. It was around the time that Frank Thorburn had just collapsed so I think the Board felt as though they had to do the right thing for the image of boxing not for Barry Jones. To be honest it didn't concern me, I don't care about the image of boxing. I went there with all of the information and they chose to dismiss that, not giving me my license back. I appealed and went back in September or October with the same information but with a barrister (a lawyer) and got it back like that. That was the bitter part. I had no more information I just had a guy who put it across better and their doctor at the appeal couldn't disagree.