James Toney-Rydell Booker Tonight

23.09.04 - By Derek Tang: Bad blood seems to be building between heavyweight contender, James Toney (67-4), and undefeated prospect, Rydell Booker (22-0). At yesterday’s press conference on The Best Damn Sports Show, Toney and Booker met for the first time face-to-face; after Booker mumbled something about how he knows Toney’s style and that friend, Leo Nolan, got “[Toney’s] ass in the gym,” Toney began mouthing off trash talk. Towards the end of the conference, Toney had to be kept back by his team and his promoter, as he kept rushing Booker’s side of the table. Booker seemed to be calm, but his voice was shaking. Today at the weigh-in, a melee ensued! Toney weighed in at 227 pounds, while Booker stepped up at 220 pounds. When they stepped closer toward each other for the usual picture of the staredown, Booker reportedly blew a kiss to Toney and this clearly enraged Toney, as Toney immediately sucker-punched Booker. As Toney’s entourage was trying to push Booker and his side off the stage, Booker apparently twisted his ankle; this is currently being looked at by Booker’s physician right now and it will be decided later on tonight whether the fight will continue. When asked if Toney’s sucker-punch hurt, Booker replied, “My girlfriend hits harder than that!”

James Toney: 36-year old Toney hasn’t fought since his historic beating of Holyfield on October 5 of 2003. He was out of action due to an Achilles tendon injury and hadn’t been training for months. At the weigh-in, he was 227 pounds and this seems to be an okay weigh for someone who is 5’11”, as long as Toney doesn’t look to have rolls on the belly; Mike Tyson, who is the same stature and has very little fat, often comes in to fight in the 220s and 230s. Toney has a lot of experience at a record of 67-4; he has held championship belts from three divisions and has fought a vast range of fighters—from Mike McCallum to Roy Jones Jr to Montell Griffin to Vassiliy Jirov to Evander Holyfield. Though tomorrow’s fight will be Toney’s second match at heavyweight, Toney should not be worried; he’s been sparring with heavyweights since his reign in the cruiserweights.

Concerning Toney’s style, he is mainly a smart defensive fighter with a relentless offensive, if he does mount one. Toney is an excellent technician inside the ring; he moves side to side and shots just usually deflect off his shoulders, arms, or body. He is very smooth and he doesn’t run circles around you like Chris Byrd. Nevertheless, one of Toney’s main strengths is his intimidation. He talks trash basically in every interview and rarely has anything good to say about anything. He called Bernard Hopkins “one of the biggest sh*t talkers in boxing” and Toney continued, “he talks sh*t like he's gangsta but if we met up in the hood he would be f*cking laid out on a sidewalk.” Toney was also the one that said that he’d “break that skinny bitch [Antonio Tarver] a new assh*le.” Even at press conferences, Toney says bad things about everybody and sometimes attends press conferences just to embarrass other fighters by talking out of the audience.

Toney’s last loss was to light heavyweight Drake Thadzi back in 1997, and Toney has been 13-0 ever since.

Rydell Booker: 23-year old Booker is a member of Team Cannon, a quadruplet composed of four prospects that also include heavyweight Leo Nolan (22-0), super middleweight Rubin Williams (24-1), and light welterweight Marlon Davis (9-0). Relatively little is known about 6’3” Rydell Booker, but what is known is that he is a relatively soft puncher. He shares a similar technique to his gym-mate Leo Nolan; it’s either a hit and run technique, or a hit and clinch approach. Neither technique is exciting and Booker plays it safe in the ring, as he doesn’t like to mix it up with opponents. Booker weighed in at 220 pounds, the lightest he’s ever been in his three fights at the heavyweight division. Booker doesn’t really talk trash and the silence from his team about the prediction of tomorrow’s fight makes people wonder; I’m sure behind doors, Booker has been training especially hard for an upset for James Toney’s comeback. Then again, Booker hasn’t exactly fought anybody of reputation in his 22 professional fights.

Importance: Booker and Toney are fighting for the #1 mandatory challenger position in the WBC. Russian giant, Vitali Klitschko, currents hold that belt and Klitschko will be defending his title first againt Tyson-killer Danny Williams on December 11 of this year. Therefore, if Toney wins, he’s earn a shot against the winner of the Williams-Klitschko fight as early as next January. This fight is also important because Rydell Booker wants to make some noise in the division; he is relatively unknown and beating Toney would not only boost him in rankings, it would make him into a star boxer. Toney, on the other hand, is just trying to get back to the heavyweight scene and is trying to get a shot at his so-called “Russian Frankenstein.” “I’ll knock Vitali’s ass out!” Toney exclaims. Furthermore, two belts will be on the line tomorrow: the WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight and IBA Heavyweight Titles.

Prediction: Booker lacks the experience and it is doubtful that he will pull an upset tomorrow. Toney’s experience, intimidation, and slick defense style will be too much for Booker. My prediction is that Toney will KO Booker in the middle to late rounds.

Boxing fans can catch the James Toney – Rydell Booker match on the Fox Sports Network, Best Damn Sports Show at 8PM (Eastern Time) on Thursday, 9/23. Enjoy the fight!

Article posted on 23.09.2004

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