The Saints had some special guests stop by their closed practice session on Wednesday afternoon, as two prominent boxers who are fighting on Saturday night in Biloxi, Miss., swung by to catch the Saints' final big tune-up practice before their first preseason game of the season (Friday, vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Superdome; 7:00 p.m.).
Roy Jones, Jr., the Fighter of the Decade for the 1990's as voted by the Boxing Writers Association of America, was joined by his upcoming foe, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy in the Saints' indoor practice facility. The two fighters, both hailing from Florida, enjoyed a break in their training and watching the practice session, albeit not in particularly close confines to each other. The two will duke it out on Saturday for a NABF light heavyweight title fight at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum.
Shortly before the start of practice, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton greeted the two fighters and introduced the pugilists to his team and gave a brief overview of each of their careers.
Jones, Jr. spoke to the team first, and wished the team luck this season and spoke about the commitment it takes to be a world champion. "My sport is different than yours in the fact that I only have myself out there when the lights go on," he said. "You have 10 teammates when you line up to start a play. You have to have them be 100% reliant on you and be dependable to them, you can't let them down," Jones Jr. said. "But while our sports are different, I know what it takes to be a champion, and that's complete devotion to your goal. I sure hope you set your goals high because if not, you are cheating yourselves and your teammates."
Lacey also took his turn at wishing the team luck, but also spoke about the upcoming fight and promised that it would be a night and a fight to remember, which drew a response from the Saints' players, who enjoyed the good natured verbal sparring between the two.
Jones Jr. and Lacey then flanked Payton and the team and the fighters came together to start practice off with a "breakdown chant " of "Saints!"
Payton laughed and said, "Hey, we have an early morning practice on Sunday, so we won't be there for the fight, maybe you guys can give us a round or two before it gets started."
Each fighter nodded knowingly before retreating to separate areas to watch practice.