James Toney-Tony Thompson - Who Wins, And How?

by James Slater - Heavyweight contenders James "Lights Out" Toney and Tony "The Tiger" Thompson meet on December 13th for the vacant IBA heavyweight bauble. A good match-up and an interesting fight, picking a winner is not so easy. As those readers who checked out this writer's recent interview with Toney will know, "Lights Out" predicts a KO win. But predicting one and getting one are two different things..

Thompson, now aged 37 and having his first fight back since being stopped in a somewhat disappointing challenge of IBF and WBO heavyweight ruler Wladimir Klitschko, is a big guy at 6'5" and approx 245-pounds. The question is, will he be too big for the former middleweight? Thompson is also a southpaw, but having been around as long as he has, and having faced just about every fighting style out there, it's unlikely Toney will encounter any real problems with "The Tiger's" stance. Thompson's size and reach advantage may give him some trouble, though.

Thompson will be the tallest and heaviest fighter Toney will have ever met. Since moving up to the ultimate weight class in 2003, James has met smallish heavies like Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Samuel Peter - losing to Peter and drawing with Rahman. Has Toney picked the wrong guy this time? While he was expected by some (this writer included) to do better against Klitschko, Thompson's 11th round KO loss was only his second setback, and his only stoppage defeat. Considering how strong and hard-hitting "Dr Steel Hammer" is, and the fact that it took him 11 long rounds to do away with his challenger, "The Tiger's" chances of being knocked out by Toney, who has only every stopped one notable heavyweight (a faded Holyfield), look slim.

But will Toney out-class the southpaw and win a decision? We don't know how the KO loss to Klitschko has affected Thompson. To some, it seemed he didn't have the necessary heart to get in there with Klitschko and give his all. This may seem harsh, but if Thompson's heart is lacking he will surely be found out by Toney, a man who simply loves fighting, has a massively proven heart himself and also has the ability to get in the trenches with the very best. Then again, Toney is now a 40-year-old with over 80 fights on his body. At his age he's got to go some time. But against Thompson, who at 37 is no spring chicken himself?

Toney may be far from the best heavyweight in the world he says he is, but he looked pretty sharp last time out against Hasim Rahman. Still possessing quick hands, cute skills lesser fighters could only dream of having in their arsenal and a rock chin, Toney looks to have too much all-round ability for Thompson. Size and weight apart, the slightly younger man has no obvious advantage.

Look for "Lights Out" to box and fight his way to a fairly clear points win, in picking up the all but meaningless IBA heavyweight strap.

Article posted on 01.11.2008

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