Barry Jones of Wales had an eight-year pro career from 1992-2000, highlighted by a brief stint as WBO 130-pound champion. Jones captured the vacant title from Wilson Palacio in 1997 but never defended it. His brain scan showed an irregularity, costing him his boxing licence, and the WBO stripped him. Jones regined his license and, a little more than two years later, he tried to regain the title from Acelino Freitas. He got stopped by Freitas and never fought again, retiring with a record of 18-1-1 and just 1 KO. However, he remains a big part of the sport as a commentator for MTK FIght Night. Here is a question and answer session with the former champ:
Q: What is your earliest memory of boxing and when did you become involved with the sport?
A: “My earliest memory of boxing was following my elder brother Steven down to the local boxing gym when I was nine. I just loved how busy it was and the noise of people punching the bag.”
Q: How proud are you on your career when you look back and reflect?
A: “I’m immensely proud of all I’ve achieved both as an amateur and professional. To fight for a world title was something I always dreamed of, but to actually win one was more than I could have ever hoped.”
Q: Once you had to retire, when did you begin to transition into boxing media and how did it come about?
A: “I didn’t have the transition from athlete to TV pundit/commentator as most have had. It was about a 10 or 11 year gap from my last fight to my first real gig on TV.
Q: “I did a bit of radio for BBC Wales on some of Joe Calzaghe’s title defenses and maybe one or two Sky punditry gigs, but by 2001 I was totally removed from the sport.
A: “I became back involved when BoxNation was launched and after appearing on the show as a guest was then asked to come back again and it snowballed from there.”
Q: Did you see yourself as a future commentator/broadcaster while you were boxing? Or was it something you only considered after boxing?
A: “No not at all, I would watch boxing on TV and think, ‘that would be a cool job’ but never actually thought I would not only be working on TV but that I would even be considered.”
Q: How much do you enjoy being ringside and commentating/working in the sport?
A: “I love it with all my heart. Like most people you sometimes become complacent and forget exactly how lucky you are. But I live and love boxing, so to be able to sit ringside and experience some memorable nights, is truly a blessing.”
Q: What advice would you have for anybody looking to follow in your footsteps and transition from boxing to boxing media?
A: “Just be honest, you’re not always right with your assessment but if it comes from an honest place rather than what you think people might want to hear, then you’re going in the right direction. Also as you won’t be a trained journalist, take your time and try to learn to project your voice. It will help with being heard, especially when it’s a packed and noisy night, and it makes you sound clearer to the audience at home. I have to say that I sometimes forget this myself. Most of all believe in yourself and just go for it.”
Q: The MTK Academy has launched recently and will offer youngsters a chance to get into the industry. How great an opportunity do you see that as and how beneficial would it be for them to join?
A: “If you have a passion for the sport, it’s a dream opportunity. It also gives people who love the sport but maybe can’t box or have found that competing is not for them, that there are so many other avenues to pursue for you to still be able to involve yourself in this beautiful sport.”