Boxing

James Toney To Face Danny Batchelder Next - Who!?

james toney27.04.07 - By James Slater: James Toney, according to some experts, nearly had his own lights put out in his last fight. Losing for the second time running to the incredibly powerful Samuel Peter, James took a whole load of head shots, that much is certain. Still, speaking immediately after the fight, "Lights Out" sounded as cocky and full of bravado as usual. "It's all good," he said, "I'm still the best fighter in the world."

And when asked if he felt he'd been fairly beaten his reply in the negative should have surprised no-one. What would his next move be though? After other recent setbacks, the draw with Hasim Rahman, for example, James leapt straight back into another big fight - the first meeting with "The Nigerian Nightmare." This is not the case this time, however, as instead Toney will box one Danny "Danny Boy" Batchelder on May 24th. I must confess, I hade never heard of the New Yorker with the 25-4-1 (12) record. I dare say I'm not the only one.

Does the fact that James, 69-6-3 (43) has seemingly been searching the bowels of the heavyweight rankings while looking for his latest comeback foe indicate that he and his confidence have been shaken from the bad night he suffered against Peter? That fight saw Toney take the single worst beating of his great and long career. Even his 1994 loss to Roy Jones Junior was not as badly damaging. Yet after the result was announced James refused to accept he'd been beaten up. Has he had time to rethink this though? And is this why he has picked the guy he's fighting next?

Batchelder is a thirty year old heavyweight, sometime cruiserweight (he scaled as low as 196 pounds for a November 2006 bout) who is nowhere near the top fifty in the world. And, aside from a fifth round stoppage win over former MIDDLEWEIGHT title challenger Segundo Mercado, there are no recognisable wins on his record. In his last fight, in March of this year, he was stopped in seven rounds by the undefeated Ukrainian, Alexander Dimitrenko. Simply put, he should provide James Toney with the easiest fight he's had in over six years. So, has his opting to fight someone so completely unknown and unranked given us a sign of how a confidence booster is very much needed for the thirty-eight year old all-time great?

We knew he'd fight again after January's loss. We figured it would be against someone a few rungs lower on the ladder than Sam Peter, too. Names like Vassiliy Jirov and Sergei Lyakhovich were mentioned. But to have instead signed to fight the limited Batchelder was something no-one really saw coming. Maybe James deserves a few easy ones, as he himself says. Or maybe he should really be thinking about quitting the sport he knows deep down he can no longer dominate in, but stubbornly refuses to. Time will tell. If he dispatches Danny quickly - as he should, if he's even less than half the fighter he was last year - and then moves back up in class having got an easy tune-up under his belt, no-one will grumble too loudly. But if James has a series of fights with low level and unthreatening opponents like Batchelder, the negative press will far outweigh the positive in the final months of his superb career.

Yes, he probably does deserve one easy one, after all the tough guys he's faced James might just be being smart by taking a ticking over type bout. But if he has too many more after May 24th, considering how boastful and overly sure of himself his constant ranting has made him sound, the fans and experts alike will rapidly begin to lose patience.

As it is, the fight held in San Jose in May, doesn't figure to entice too many fans to ringside. Look for Toney to take things relatively easy and, after a number of rounds he feels is sufficient to have gotten a work-out, stop Batchelder. My guess is around the fifth. James really has gone back down a number of levels by taking this match, though.

Article posted on 27.04.2007



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