Just prior to James Toney’s highly anticipated return to the ring getting underway last night at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, the fans of both Lights Out and his opponent Rydell “Rock n’ Rye” Booker held signs up saying, “A Kiss is Just a Kiss,” and “Booker is the Kiss of Death,” referring to the melee that occurred during Wednesday’s weigh-in in which Toney lunged at Booker with his fists after Booker apparently blew kisses at Lights Out. While fans at home tuning in to The Best Damn Sports Show Period were expecting an exciting fight, what the quickly saw was a boxing lesson, with the 73-fight veteran schooling the previously undefeated, but still less experienced 22-0 Booker. Even though Rock n’ Rye looked softer around the middle than his come-backing opponent, Booker put on a good showing for the first round landing the cleaner punches of the two in the form of the classic “one-two” to Toney’s head. This would be Booker’s only clear-cut round that he won, for the rest of the fight was nothing but Toney, Toney, Toney.
Looking more than relaxed, almost to the point of boredom, as the first bell sounded, Toney stood toe-to-toe with his taller opponent and stuck out his famous left jab as he rolled his shoulder to evade any counter moves from Booker. Toney was being allowed to pressure his opponent but was being nailed by more powerful shots than Toney could land himself. Towards the end of the first frame, in an attempt to turn Booker’s lights out, Toney swung mightily with a left hook and missed. This caused a sharp pain in Toney’s left tricep that he later explained to BoxingTalk felt like hot wax for the rest of the fight.
Not letting a sore arm ruin his return to the ring, Toney came out in the second round more aggressive than he did in the first. The fourth minute of action saw the beginning of what has been and what would be his money shot: a crushing right hook to the ribs followed by a disastrous right uppercut to his opponent’s chin. This soon bloodied the nose of Booker, who could only hide behind his gloves and lay against the ropes, only coming out to land an occasional soft jab to Toney’s hard head.
In the third round, Toney, who was warmed up by this point and fighting with more confidence, continued his superior attack by not missing with the right hook downstairs and the right uppercut upstairs. He began stalking Booker in an attempt to land the “Lights Out” punch. Whenever Booker moved to avoid Toney’s punishment, Toney simply did a two-step and was suddenly back in front of “Rock n’ Rye” to blow him some kisses of his own in the form of red leather gloves. Even though it looked as though Toney could have finished Booker by the end of the third frame, the overmatched fighter’s hugs extinguished any chance of a Toney KO3 from happening.
Showing no signs of a broken Achilles’ heal that he suffered earlier this year while training for the scrapped scrap with Jameel McCline, Toney came out in the fourth bouncing on his toes and landing a three-punch combination of hooks to Booker’s ribs, followed up with a three-punch combination of hooks to the side of Booker’s face. “Rock n’ Rye” could only hold on for dear life as it was apparent his power was no match for the fighter who has never been knocked out before. By this time, Booker’s only offensive moves were in the form of jabs that would embarrass the smallest flyweight allowing Toney to continuously land his two-punch combo money shot – right hook downstairs, right uppercut to the chin.
Round five saw Booker actually move Toney back with a left hook to the side of Toney’s face, but that only infuriated Lights Out, and he countered with…what else? His money shot. The second half of the fifth frame ventured into a phone booth with both fighters jabbing each other on the inside while holding in between punches. Many in the crowd were wondering what was stopping Toney from finishing off his opponent, as Booker ended up spending the final minute of the round against the ropes and covered up as though he was inviting Toney to come in and take a piece of him. However, Toney ended the round by instead jabbing his opponent’s head and body to oblivion.
Toney came out for the sixth round swinging a right hook upstairs, as Booker countered with jabs and a left hook – straight right combo upstairs to Toney’s head. A straight right kept finding its way into Booker’s weakening defense and landing flush on his nose for the remainder of the round.
In an attempt to salvage the fight, Booker came out and landed a good right hook to Toney’s head followed by a right hook to his ribs, but Lights Out was able to get in a classic one-two that forced Booker to once again grab onto his dominating opponent. Again, the crowd was growing more and more anxious for a Lights Out punch and resorted to chants of “Finish him,” and “Get him out of there.”
After landing two consecutive right hooks to the head of Booker to start off round eight, Toney landed his third to put Booker in the corner to soon be eating a jaw-wrenching left hook that twisted the head of Booker. This set up the only knockdown of the fight as Toney right uppercut that dropped Booker slowly to his knees as though he was partly injured and partly taking a rest from the brutal artistry Toney was administering to him. Booker could only tie Toney up for the remainder of the round, but with seconds left Toney was able to get more right hooks upstairs through to inflict further damage.
The ninth inning became a rest period for both worn out fighters, but the tenth saw more action as Toney trapped Booker again in the corner and almost put him down again with a barrage of hook upstairs. Booker did not initiate any offense of his own, but rather he held on to Toney to survive the round.
Toney came back with his famous right hook downstairs – right uppercut upstairs during the eleventh round and did not miss for those three minutes of action. Each time he threw out his power-leather, they landed. Booker wanted to show some effort and countered with his soft jabbing, and as the bell sounded to end the first championship round, Toney made cat-scratch motions in order to mock Booker of his weak power.
Light Out returned to the body by attacking with his right hook, and then he began the old stick-and-move routine. Booker was, at this point, firing blanks, and the best shot of the round came when Toney landed two smacking right hooks to the ribs of his opponent as Booker held Toney in a headlock. When the bell sounded to end their fight all three judges saw it in Toney’s favor with scores of 120-107, 118-108, and 117-110. James Toney is now the IBA heavyweight champion, and more importantly as the #1 ranked WBC heavyweight, a mega-fight with Vitali Klitschko is being slotted for this April. Toney’s victorious return improves his record to 68-4-2 (43), while Booker drops his first with a record of 22-1 (12).Wayne McCullough Shows Why He is the Pocket Rocket Against Mike Juarez
The last time we saw the Pocket Rocket McCullough in the ring was a year and a half ago when he fought a hard battle against the WBO featherweight champ Scott Harrison. Coming off that loss and looking to shake off some ring rust, McCullough came out punishing the body of Juarez for the majority of the first frame. Juarez would occasionally get in a good counter in the form of a right to the body and a left hook upstairs. One left landed flush to the side of McCullough’s head opening a small abrasion on the side of his left eye. For the remainder of the round McCullough’s speed allowed him to beat his opponent to the punch and dominate the final minute with crushing head shots and ripping hooks to the body.
In the second inning, with McCullough bleeding next to his left eye due to a headbutt in the previous round, The Pocket Rocket, now fighting with a sense of urgency, trapped Juarez in the corner and received dividends from the body attack he had administered in round one. McCullough got Juarez against the corner and started landing monstrous hooks to the side of his opponent’s face. With his ten year ring experience, the Pocket Rocket wisely changed up his barrage by going back downstairs with more digs to the ribs, and then finishing off his combinations with more combinations of hooks to Juarez’ head, stunning the fighter to the point of bending over at the waist to in an attempt to avoid further punishment. Seeing his opponent was hurt, McCullough continued to stalk Juarez while picking his shots. He was able to land more hooks all over his opponent’s face, and while the crowd sensed the end was near for the hurt fighter, Juarez surfaced to land powerful hooks of his own to McCullough’s head. Getting the crowd on their feet, the two traveled around the four posts of the ring until the Pocket Rocket once against trapped Juarez in a corner and landed a right uppercut upstairs that was followed by a finishing left hook that sent Juarez mouthpiece flying at the same time his knees gave out and was headed to the canvas. Knowing that he was only going to sustain more damage, referee Jose Cobian stopped the fight with one second left in the second round giving the Pocket Rocket a second round KO over the man who has been in the ring with the who’s who of the featherweight divisions. McCullough impressively improves to 27-4 (18) as Juarez loses his sixth in a row with a record of 23-15-2 (9).Mark Suarez is Poison for Brad “Bad to the Bone” Jensen
Fighting most of the first round with his head down as he tossed out his leather, Jensen was an easy target for the calmer and more skilled “Poison” Suarez. Only briefly did Jensen relax enough to stand up straight and land a punch that actually landed on Suarez, but Suarez stayed in complete control of the round by peppering his opponent with stiff jabs upstairs and hard digs to Jensen’s ribs to follow.
Looking even more unbalanced then he had in round one, Jensen failed to land one meaningful punch, but instead looked severely battered as Suarez attacked the body with wild smacking hooks to Jensen’s sides. With Jensen sticking out his fist just to keep his opponent at bay, Suarez drew shouts of ooh’s and “Stop the fight!” when he landed a hard combination of a left hook to the ribs followed by a right hook upstairs. Surprisingly Jensen lasted his sixth minute of action, but the end looked soon to be near.
Round three was nothing but Jensen serving as a human punching bag for Suarez. Admirably Jensen never went down and was never in serious trouble, in fact he kept tossing out leather until referee Jose Cobian finally had seen enough. At 2:02 in the third frame, he halted the action and took Jensen to his corner to be aided by his cornermen. With the win, Suarez improves to 22-2 (10), while Jensen goes under .500 with a record of 13-14-3 (5).
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