James Toney-Matthew Greer This Saturday - Time To See What "Lights Out" Has Left

by James Slater - This Saturday night in Temecula, CA, on the same card as the Andre Ward Shelby Pudwill fight, all-time great and current heavyweight contender James Toney fights for the first time since his poor showing against Fres Oquendo last December. Facing the 12-5(11) Matthew Greer, a fighter who, in truth, he should handle with relative ease, "Lights Out" will re-launch his heavyweight campaign for a fourth time..

In recent interviews (one with this writer) the recently turned 41-year-old former middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight champion has spoken of his continued desire to fight either one or even both of the Klitschko brothers - or as James refers to them, "the Klistchko sisters." We will perhaps get some inkling of how serious Toney is about this when we see him in action against 32-year-old Greer.

In a recent interview with myself, when talking about how his preparations were going for Saturday night's fight, Toney, 71-6-3(43) said he'd just left the gym at 209-pounds. If this was indeed true (and I ain't calling Toney a liar) this will surely have been the lightest poundage the future Hall of Famer has carried for some years. Let's see what he weighs-in at for his upcoming fight before we get too excited, but could it be that Toney has somehow whipped himself into the same kind of formidable-looking condition he was in back when he first made his assault on the big guys' weight class by taking out Evander Holyfield in October of 2003?

This may be wishful thinking and time may well have been called on Toney ever getting back to that kind of fighting fitness, but if he has somehow rolled back the years due to a renewed zest for working out, things could still be interesting regarding Toney and the heavyweight division. If he enters the ring against "The Gator" at, say 218 or 225, and if he looks good and strong in carrying this weight, Toney will have gone some way towards making people believe he is once again 100-percent focused and ready.

But ready for either Wladimir or Vitali? It may well be, or perhaps certainly is, way too much to expect any 41-year-old former middleweight, no matter how great he is, to be able to mix it with the giants from Ukraine. At 5'10" and with a reach of 72," how would Toney get close enough to be able to land any punches on either one of the two heavyweight rulers, even being as clever and as fully experienced as he is?

Showing up in great shape and taking care of Matthew Greer (perhaps Toney's first stoppage at heavyweight since the 9th-round TKO over "The Real Deal?") is one thing, but the two Klitschko brothers are another, surely. This is not to say there are no other meaningful fights out there for an in shape and rededicated James Toney, but let's see if he can indeed get past phase-one of his latest comeback in style before we begin looking at them.

A close decision win where he struggles even sporadically will not be enough from Toney on Saturday. He needs to win clearly, and he needs to win impressively. A stoppage at the halfway stage would suffice. But can Toney do it? What's he really got left? We'll soon see.

Article posted on 10.09.2009

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