I guess I’ll leave it to the nay-sayers to count James Toney’s chances of capturing the WBC heavyweight title from Hasim Rahman by the pound. Despite what the general media or some boxing “experts” will tell you, James Toney’s biggest fight is March 18th against the Rock, and not the day before on the scales.
Whether Toney becoming the recognized heavyweight champ solves the confusion of the heavyweight rankings is beyond the sports grasp. But the simpler equation fits in with Toney himself. Those who have watched Toney and or been around him throughout his career know two things.
Toney is one of the most skilled fighters the history of our sport has ever seen.
And, Toney is a fat, out of shape heavyweight contender - maybe soon, to be called a champion.
Not to take anything away from Rahman, but if he is the best the division has to offer than James Toney need not worry about his weight. The only way Rahman beats Toney is by knocking him out with the type of right hand that knocked South Africa off of the map in April of ‘01.
Let us never confuse Toney with Pernell Whitaker. He isn’t a dancer, never has been. Toney is coming to do one thing - fight. Whether it be at 225lbs or the high 250's, James Toney will stand on the inside, bob and weave, and land combinations.
Just another example of James being James.
So far, against the likes of Evander Holyfield, Rydell Booker, John Ruiz and Dominique Guinn, the fighting machine that is Lights Out has yet to be stopped.
And if aint broke, why should Toney fix it?
After all, boxing has never been a beauty contest. Lucky for Toney, it’s always been a brute sport and one that Toney excels at.
Granted Toney hasn’t gone through the murderous row of heavyweights that say, the 60's and 70's produced - Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton - If that were the case, Toney might fit better with a leaner physique.
You don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that there isn’t any rising heavyweight storming through the ranks to save the division. Toney didn’t suddenly become to deaf to his surroundings.
He knows that Hasim Rahman is inconsistent. Chris Byrd is small. John Ruiz couldn’t beat him with or without illegal steroids, and Nikolay Valuev is never coming to the United States.
The only way Toney gets beat is if he gets caught and knocked out. As most heavyweights can tell you, your chances don’t improve simply because you aren’t as heavy as you were, or because you were heavier than a time before.
Weight classes are important in boxing, but in the heavyweight division there is all too many times more stress on a fighters weight than the actual fight. This is more evident with Toney, perhaps, because he used to campaign just north of 154lbs.
The biggest problem for Toney has never been weight, but rather finding the motivation to continue to preform at an elite level. A lot is made over Roy Jones Jr.’s victory over Toney, and the fact that Toney had to drop 20 pounds a few months prior to the fight.
The “story” has become somewhat of a legend by now. What began as 20 pounds has grown like Popeye after eating spinach, into something along the range of 35-60 pounds. Whatever scenario you believe is up to you. Toney may have been drained or just simply not motivated enough to consider Jones a threat.
Shrugging excuses to the side, Toney lost.
Going by observation alone, it is safe to say that James Toney’s weight may very well be higher than usual. But his motivation should be looked upon as the real key to the reigns of the heavyweight title.
Last week after Miguel Cotto was victorious Emanuel Steward said: “ I’d have a hard time betting against [James] Toney.”
In other words, if you’re looking to gamble play the lotto. You’ll have a better chance of winning opposed to picking against Toney because he is heavy.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it sad that Chris Byrd is being paired up against Wladimir Klitschko for a second time - in Germany, at that - instead of Lamon Brewster? Byrd’s fight with Klitschko and Brewster’s with Serguei Lyakhovich is just another way for the heavyweight division to go without one, unified champion. To hope that the winner of Byrd-Klitschko and Toney-Rahman squares off by the end of the calendar year is like fishing with sand as bait. But in boxing, hope is sometimes all that we have.
BRUTAL LEFT HOOKS
They never came from Jeff Lacy when he was in the ring with Super middle weight champion Joe Calzaghe. But that doesn’t mean the media hasn’t bombed away at the 2000 Bronze medalist. Calzaghe was clearly the more experienced and better overall fighter last week. He took a lot of flack for below average competition the last few years, but Jeff Lacy has taken a true beating from “fans” of the fight game. I guess it goes back to being undefeated and the extreme importance that it plays in being looked at as a successful fighter in boxing. It’s sad that some people measure quality by wins alone. I hope Lacy can come back strong, just as I hope Calzaghe continues to do well all while getting the respect he has been short on through his entire career.
WHERE IT BEGAN
In March of ‘95 I went along to the Michigan Golden Gloves with my father. It was my first real experience with boxing. My dad’s friend had a company (Spec Fab Industries) that sponsored a local fighter from the area. We sat ringside for nearly 4 hours of some of the most intense and competitive action I’ve ever seen. It was there that I was able to meet Floyd Mayweather Jr., who appeared there as an uncontested champion who was soon heading to the Olympic games. Floyd signed my fight program and made me, as an 11 year old kid, as happy as I could have been that night... This week, March 18th, the opening round of the Michigan Golden Gloves are taking place at the Grand Armory in Wyoming, Michigan - a few minutes shy of Grand Rapids. The Gloves will run until the first few weeks of April, and should produce some of the best young boxing through out the state of Michigan. ‘Tis the season for Golden Gloves, where dreams come true for many young fighters. I encourage all those around boxing to find out when the Gloves come to your town, because it is truly a historic event that shouldn’t be missed by any boxing fans. No matter new, or old.
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