Gold Glove lift operator steps back into boxing ring
When “Maniac” Mike Jones moved to Snowmass Village for this ski season, he thought he’d be exchanging his boxing gloves for snowboard mittens. And for good.
The 27-year-old Houston native won two Gold Gloves as an amateur in 1988 and 1989, and met with initial success when he turned professional in 1997. After getting off to a 6-0 start (with 6 KOs) as a professional in the 135-pound lightweight class, Jones’ career was sidetracked by an addiction to painkillers.
“In boxing, it’s easy to get hooked up with the wrong people,” Jones said.
After getting clean at a rehab, Jones decided to move to Snowmass Village, where his family used to come ski on vacations. He took a job as a lift operator on the Summit Express at Buttermilk Mountain and began carving out a life for himself centered around snowboarding.
“I didn’t have any intention of starting back up (boxing) again when I got out here,” Jones said. “But when I got a call from a promoter in Denver I decided it was something I wanted to do again. You don’t get six knockouts in as many fights in professional boxing and then walk away.”
That call came more than a month ago, and already Jones has four fights booked, including his comeback debut Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Riveria Casino in Black Hawk. Tickets for the fight are sold out.
Jones, at 5-foot-9, will fight the 6-foot-2 Adrian Mora, a Denver boxer with a 4-0 (unofficial) pro record. The fight is scheduled for four rounds.
“He’s been fighting amateurs in Denver for awhile,” said Jones. “I’ve heard he’s kind of shaky, kind of timid. He’s tall and lanky, so if I can get inside on him, it could be over quick.”
The early betting line on the fight favors Jones 5-1 to win, he said.
For the past month or so, Jones has been training under Rocky Barros at St. Stephen’s Church in Glenwood Springs.
“Barros is an excellent trainer,” Jones said. “He trains mostly amateurs and he’s trustworthy. He’s set me up with a good sparring partner. A big guy, Jeff Austin, 200-pounder. He’s good work.”
St. Stephens doesn’t have a squared circle in its basement, but it’s been a perfect place to train for the Mora fight, which Jones describes as “pretty much a tuneup to get the ring rust off.”
“The time I took off I really needed off,” said Jones, a former sparring partner with Angel Manfredy and “Sugar” Shane Mosley. “Now, I’ve gotten myself straightened out and I’m ready to come back.”
Jones says he likes living in Snowmass and working at Buttermilk, and for now he plans to stick around – both the Aspen area and the pro boxing circuit.
“I like the people out here,” he said. “And the altitude helps with the training.”
However, one of the reasons he moved here – to be able to snowboard – hasn’t panned out.
“I try not to do it too often,” Jones said. “I try to avoid injury at all costs.” Presumably, that is, outside the ring.
So, where does the “Maniac” namesake come from?
“My first pro fight only last a minute,” he said. “Everybody said I just looked like a maniac trying to finish it up quick. That, and my eleven tattoos.”
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It might require a little extra preparation, but there’s no need to be afraid of colder months when going out fishing.