Christmas Came Early For Toney, Not At All For Oquendo!

By Dave Cacciatore: James Toney won a split decision victory over Fres Oquendo on Saturday night. As the years pass few will remember the details of this fight, and all that will remain is the tacit result Toney SD12 Oquendo. From an aesthetic standpoint, this was not a great fight, it was sloppy, ugly, and it was highlighted by Toney nearly slipping out of the ring. However, that tacit result will conceal something else…that the wrong man won! Fres Oquendo out-worked, out-hit, and even out-smarted the old, slow, fat, ex-middleweight champ consistently throughout the fight, and is left with nothing to show for it. Fighters are known by their records, it is the only true statistic we have to measure them by..

James ToneyWins, losses, and draws, who did you beat and when did you beat them and how did you beat them, at the end of the day that is all we have to make our judgments. So in the annuals of history we will now forever have the result Toney SD12 Oquendo. In a sport where opportunities are so fleeting and a fighter’s time at the top is so short, an injustice such as this is tragic.

However, what makes this tragedy all the more sad for Oquendo is that it is not the first time it has happened. In 2003, he was too fast and confused then IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd over 12 rounds only to lose another decision that he deserved. And again in 2006, he beat the aging warrior Evander Holyfield over 12 only to lose another decision. Three fights that should have a different result in the record books. Oquendo is labeled as a guy who loses when he steps up, but he wouldn’t if he had been given credit for the fights that he won.

Further, look at the credit Toney has received for fights he arguably didn’t deserve with the most recent example excluded. In 1991, Reggie Johnson dropped the then IBF middleweight champ in the second round but lost a close yet controversial decision. In 1992, Dave Tiberi beat the lethargic out of shape James Toney across the ring for 12 rounds only to lose a puzzling decision that shook the faith of ringside observers. Fast forward to 2000, Toney again looks lethargic and undeserving in eking out a majority decision over Terry McGroom. In 2006, Toney is given a major judicial bailout that keeps him alive as a championship contender. In a fight with then WBC heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman in which he had no answers for the bigger man’s skill he was awarded a draw.

All of this is not to say that Toney is not a great fighter or that Oquendo is. Toney has accomplished things on his own merit that are renowned in boxing history. He was a middle, super-middle, and cruiserweight champion. He nearly won a heavyweight title but for his steroid use in the John Ruiz fight. He has beaten some great champions in this sport including Iran Barkley, Mike McCallum, Vassiliy Jirov, and Evander Holyfield just to name a few. Further, Toney should not be begrudged for winning close decisions. His fights with Mike McCallum and Vassiliy Jirov were all very close and went Toney’s way. Though the scorecards for the Jirov fight in particular were not reflective of the close nature of a fight that was a candidate for fight of the year honors.

Moreover, Toney may have a bone to pick with dropping fights to Montell Griffin, and then to Sam Peter in their first fight. Boxing is the hardest sport in the world to judge and differences in scoring occur even with the most respected and honest officials. However, even granting those differences there is no excuse for the judges giving that fight to Goosen Tutor Promotions favorite fighter over Oquendo. One man is not rewarded for his hard work and another is rewarded for his laziness. And the stain of this loss will blot Oquendo’s resume for eternity and will prevent him from earning needed future paydays to support his family. Now that is not right!

Article posted on 17.12.2008

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