Booker-Toney: Time for Toney to Show What he's Got as a Heavyweight

22.09.04 - By Patrick Corcoran: Heavyweight contender and former middle and cruiserweight champ James Toney (67-4-2) is ready to step into the ring for the first time in nearly a year, with the big day coming September 23 versus Rydell Booker (22-0) in Temecula, California.

With a torn Achilles tendon spoiling a matchup with Jameel McCline in early 2004, Toney (Photo: Tom Casino) has spent most of this year laying in wait and in rehab. Instead of facing the giant McCline, Toney will make his sophomore effort in the heavyweight division against the unbeaten but thoroughly untested Booker in a bout broadcast on Fox Sports’ “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”

Toney made a splash in his heavyweight debut in October 2003 with a near-decapitation of Evander Holyfield. Because of that sharp performance, a name that is familiar to boxing fans, and the dilapidated state of the heavyweight division, Toney is likely to get a title shot in the near future should he squeeze by Booker. That seems to be only a formality at this point.

None of Booker’s 22 wins have come against a legitimate contender, much less an elite veteran of Toney’s stature. The most noteworthy aspect of the fight is that it will be covered by the “Best Damn Sports Show Period,” where Toney is a frequent
visitor. Booker, who weighed in at 220, does not have the size to impose himself on the former middleweight, nor does he have the skills to punch with Toney, who tipped the scales at 227.

So how does a drab matchup retain the interest of the boxing public? Toney’s answer seems to be a weigh-in brawl. After Booker blew Toney a kiss during the obligatory staredown, Toney punched Booker and the donnybrook. Booker appeared to twist his ankle in the melee and a determination about his ability to fight on Thursday has yet to be made.

Article posted on 22.09.2004

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