Unbeaten Philadelphia welterweight Mike Jones will get another chance to showcase his talents on the big stage when he meets Miami’s Randall Bailey for the IBF welterweight title on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley showdown on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Right now, I’m in the building stages of my career as far as my skills in the ring, because I feel that I’m a steady learner, and I’m steadily improving my boxing skills,” said Jones (26-0, 19 knockouts), who turned 29 on April 26.
“I’m getting better and better. Physically, my body is there, and as long as I’m at 147 it will continue to be okay. But when I move up in weight, then you’ll see me be stronger.”
Jones most recently overcame rugged Argentine slugger Sebastian Lujan by unanimous decision in December, ending Lujan’s 12-fight winning streak on the undercard of Miguel Cotto’s 10th-round knockout of Antonio Margarito at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
By defeating Lujan, Jones earned the No. 1 spot in the IBF’s ratings and a berth against IBF No. 2-rated Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs) for the belt that was vacated by Andre Berto.
“My goal is to show what I’ve been working on in the gym for this fight, which I’ve known about for three months,” said Jones, who is trained by Vaughan Jackson. “I’ve been working on things to beat this particular fighter. I want to execute it flawlessly.”
Prior to facing Lujan, Jones had scored a second-round knockout of Raul Munoz, which was accomplished in June of last year before his hometown fans at the South Philly Arena.
Before Munoz, Jones scored decisions over Jesus Soto Karass in November of 2010 and February of last year, respectively.
In his first meeting with Soto-Karass, on the undercard of Pacquiao-Margarito at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Jones expended too much energy trying to stop his foe in the second round and was fortunate to escape with a majority decision.
In their rematch on the undercard of Nonito Donaire’s second-round stoppage of Fernando Montiel at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the 6-foot Jones boxed cleverly, using his range and power to cause the game Soto-Karass to bleed profusely.
Should he look impressive in getting beyond Bailey, a hard-punching 37-year-old, Jones could be in line to face the winner between Pacquiao and Bradley.
“Mike Jones is a really good fighter who will need to put a little more fire into his game, because he has all of the tools,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “Depending on how Mike does in this fight with Randall Bailey, you know, he would be in the future mix for Manny Pacquiao or for Tim Bradley.”
Although Jones said that he won’t underestimate Bailey, he does want to deliver a definitive and decisive effort given the age of his rival.
“I just need to win. That’s my mindset. I don’t put pressure on myself that isn’t already there. I just need to go out there and relax, fight at my best, and I know that if I do that, my best will be more than enough for me to look good,” said Jones.
“I look at this guy as a fighter with experience, and at this point in my career, that’s what I’m missing in my game is experience. Fighting a guy like this will give me plenty of experience to go on to bigger and better things.”
Photo by Chris Toney, Top Rank
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com