Roy Jones KOs Montel Griffin This Day August 7, 1997
Roy Jones wins the light heavyweight crown
Montell Griffin 174 lbs
Roy Jones Jr 175 lbs
KO at 2:31 in round 1 of 12
Location: Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA
Referee: Arthur Mercante
Judge: Tony Castellano
Judge: Tom Kaczmarek
Judge: Dick Flaherty
WBC Light Heavyweight Title (1st defense by Griffin)
The promotion was billed as “Unfinished Business.”
Griffin was a 4-1 underdog.
Both fighters earned $1.5 million.
The fight took place in a bingo hall at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino before a sellout crowd of 4,500.
Jones floored Griffin with a left hook early in the first round. Another left hook put him down for the count at 2:31 of the round.
Controversy with the WBC title
In early 1998, the WBC light heavyweight title was relinquished by Jones, who planned to move up to heavyweight. Jones signed to fight former heavyweight champion James (Buster) Douglas for the International Boxing Association heavyweight title on May 2, 1998 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
On March 21, 1998, WBC #1 contender Michael Nunn fought #2 contender Graciano Rocchigiani for the vacant light heavyweight title. Rocchigiani won by a split decision and was declared the new champion.
Meanwhile, Jones changed his mind and backed out of the Douglas fight. His father convinced him to stay at light heavyweight, telling him he was “risking his life” by fighting Douglas.
In June 1998, the WBC stated that Jones was the “champion in recess” and Rocchigiani was the “interim” champion. The WBC said its references in promotions and contracts to the Rocchigiani-Nunn fight as a championship bout, and to Rocchigiani as the champion, had been typographical errors.
Jones and Rocchigiani were scheduled to fight in Biloxi, Mississippi on November 6, 1999. However, promoter Murad Muhammad called off the bout because Rocchigiani didn’t attend a press conference in New York. Muhammad said he couldn’t promote a bout with Rocchigiani if he didn’t cooperate. The WBC subsequently stripped Rocchigiani outright.
Rocchigiani sued the WBC and was awarded $31 million in lost earnings and other damages by a New York court in April 2003. The court also retroactively restored Rocchigiani’s official WBC light heavyweight championship status, but only from March 28, 1998 (when he defeated Nunn) to April 15, 2000 (when he lost to Dariusz Michalczewski).
The WBC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the judgement. A year later, the WBC announced they planned to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually leads to the liquidation of a company. They withdrew plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when they reached an agreement with Rocchigiani in August 2004. Terms were not disclosed.