Toney disappoints against Peter

By Ramon Rodriguez


Toney disappoints against Peter

Wrap-up from Hollywood, Florida

Apparently, training under tae-bo inventor Billy Blanks over the last few weeks didn’t seem to do much for James “Lights Out” Toney. In the days leading up to his rematch with Samuel Peter, many speculated whether his supposedly healthier training regimen, which consisted of plenty of roadwork and a fish-and-lima beans diet, would help Toney (69-6-3, 43 KOs) fight his best fight since his cruiserweight-title victory over Vassily Jirov in 2003. Guess not. Toney did look more muscular than he did four months ago, but instead of boxing with his typical sharp, defensive craftiness, he appeared flat, sluggish, and drained on Saturday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL. Throughout the entire bout, Toney seemed unable to put punches together against Peter (28-1, 22 KOs), who constantly attacked with chopping right hands.

On the day of the weigh-in, Toney weighed in at 234 pounds, one more than he did in the first bout with Peter. In fairness, Toney looked significantly healthier than he did last September, which led many to believe that he would notch a convincing victory on the night of the rematch. Toney lost the first fight by a close decision, although most of the press had Toney winning. But after twelve slow rounds on Saturday, Toney dropped a unanimous decision by scores of 119-108 and 118-110 (twice). This time, the media agreed with the outcome and Toney was the only person who quibbled with the scoring.

Both fighters fought cautiously as the bout started, though Peter soon began throwing hard jabs, which seemed to keep Toney on his toes. Things went downhill for Toney in the opening seconds of the second round, as Peter sent him to the canvas with a crisp jab. The knockdown was Toney’s first since he fought Roy Jones Jr. in 1994. Though Toney was not hurt, it was evident that he simply didn’t have the energy or firepower to compete with the younger, stronger Peter.

In rounds three, four, and five, Toney managed to land a few good blows, but Peter hardly even flinched. Instead, Peter kept occupying his jab, while throwing solid hooks and uppercuts.
By the sixth and seventh rounds, Toney was gasping for air, while Peter, who weighed in at a ready 249 pounds, continued pounding Toney with solid punches.

Many expected Toney to catch a second wind in the second half of the fight and try to even the score on the judges’ cards. But it never came. Instead, a frustrated Toney simply threw one punch at a time, while trash-talking Peter in between rounds. Missing were the slick defensive tricks and outstanding body work which Toney is infamously known for.

With the victory, Peter is now the mandatory contender for WBC titlist Oleg Maskaev, and deserves to be considered one of the top three heavyweights in the world, even thoug he lacks a world title belt. Peter was supposed to fight Maskaev after he won the first fight four months ago, but after Toney’s camp protested the controversial decision, the WBC ordered a rematch.

When asked about his dominating performance, Peter revealed just how hard he had prepared for this fight. “I was really ready [for this fight]. I didn’t break for Christmas. I ran hard and I had never done a lot of running before,” Peter said. “This was my best fight. I taunted him. I gave him the Muhammad Ali shuffle with a little Floyd Mayweather, too. I’m not the best yet. The champions have the belts, so I have to give them credit first, but I will be the best.”

As for Toney, many can only wonder whether the man known as “Lights Out” has seen his best days in the ring. After years of poor training habits, has Toney’s age finally caught up with him?

Not if you ask Toney himself. "I disagree with the decision. I was aggressive. I felt I won the fight, but it's all good. I'm still the best fighter in the world. This guy is supposed to be a hell of a puncher and he couldn't knock me out, and I started at middleweight,” Toney said. "I'm still going to fight. I'll fight anyone, anywhere. I respect no one. I don't care. Nobody has ever done what I've done. I beat all the best fighters out there from middleweight to heavyweight."