James Toney-Fres Oquendo this Saturday on VERSUS

by James Slater - As has already been widely reported, Tony Thompson has gone down with bronchitis and is now out of the December 13th bout against James Toney. Coming in as a replacement is Puerto Rico's 35-year-old "Fast" Fres Oquendo, currently 29-4(18). The question now is, what kind of fight can the fans expect in Cabazon, California?

In truth, a number of fans were far from thrilled at the prospect of Toney Vs. Thompson, fearful as they were of a dull points win, one way or the other.. Will Oquendo and Toney's styles mesh any better and give us a more watch-able affair than the original pairing would have done? Let's face it, though reasonably talented and not lacking in courage, Oquendo has been involved in a number of very dull fights in his time (see his points win over Elisier Castillo and his points loss to Evander Holyfield). Indeed, it's not too easy pointing to a great fight the fighter also known as "The Big O" has given us.

Not a big puncher, the 35-year-old is, however, durable enough. With Oquendo only having been stopped twice in an eleven year career, it seems unlikely "Lights Out" will live up to a nickname that's proven to be optimistic at best up at heavyweight when he meets him. What this adds up to then, more than likely, is a distance fight - because, make no mistake about it, Oquendo is never going to stop Toney. Could a full-of-desire fighter taking advantage of a surprise opportunity punch his way to a points win, though?

In this writer's opinion, though a KO can be ruled out point blank, a Toney loss cannot be. It may not be exciting, but there is a good chance the man who has only been stopped by David Tua and John Ruiz - and late in the fight at that - may cause the upset. We all know Toney is capable of being lazy in the gym. Going up against such a bigger man in Thompson, though, as he originally was, James very likely would have forced himself to train, sensing the potential danger a 6'5" southpaw would pose him. But against the smallish (approx 218-pound) Puerto Rican who lives in Chicago, will the 40-year-old legend see any real need to feel any trepidation whatsoever? I don't think so, therefore it's very possible we will see the 235-240-pound version of "Lights Out" enter the ring on Dec 13th.

As such, it is conceivable that an in-shape Oquendo out-works him (albeit in a steady, non too entertaining manner) and does more to impress the three judges. This late replacement of a fight has all the makings of an upset written on it.

Look for a definite 12-rounder, as I've said - also look for Oquendo to either lose close or perhaps even pull it out. Can you say ugly split decision?

Article posted on 13.12.2008

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