James Toney-Denis Lebedev - Can “Lights Out” Go One Better Than Roy Jones And Beat Lebedev In Russia?

By James Slater: There are internet rumblings that say 43-year-old all-time great James Toney will face 32-year-old Russian cruiserweight Denis Lebedev later this year. have the fight up as happening in Moscow on November 5th, and fans have surely read about how Toney has been recently rededicated to training and is currently said to be approx 215-pounds. So, who knows, maybe the fight will go down?

Toney, at 5’10,” should probably be boxing as a cruiserweight today anyway. Sure, for such a small guy (in height), Toney has acquitted himself pretty well as a heavyweight; even if he hasn’t picked up a really big win there since his October 2003 stoppage of the still-active Evander Holyfield. But unless the Lebedev fight (if it happens at all) takes place at a catch-weight (yes, yet another one!), “Lights Out” will indeed be dropping back down to the weight class he has not operated in since April of 2003.

Back then, Toney resurrected his career one more time with an excellent win over Vassiliy Jirov in an excellent fight. That fine win for Toney actually took place at 190-pounds, and it was thought the subsequent move up to heavyweight signalled an end to James’ campaigning at cruiserweight. Could it be that, all these years later, Toney is about to breathe yet more new life into his career at the expense of a highly thought of cruiser?

Lebedev is, of course, a very dangerous, durable and well-conditioned 200-pounder. The 22-1-(17) contender is also a southpaw. Beaten only by Marco Huck, via a somewhat debatable split decision, Lebedev returned to winning ways last time out with a brutal 10th-round KO of another veteran in Roy Jones Junior. Jones travelled to Russia, just as Toney may well do, yet he went home with a painful loss. Yes, Lebedev may be a little crude, at least compared to the still-slick Toney, and he may well see himself getting outboxed for a number of rounds as result - but will he (again, IF the fight comes off) catch up with Toney in the later rounds and score another chilling KO over a big name?

How much has Toney, 73-6-3(44) got left? How strong will he be if he has in fact dropped something like 55-pounds to get down to the cruiserweight limit (Toney, don’t forget, weighed a whopping 257 for his Feb. win over Damon Reed)?

Unlike the Lebedev-Jones fight when it was first announced, I’m intrigued and even excited about the idea of Lebedev-Toney. I felt that all that awaited Jones was another KO loss when the May 21st fight was first announced, and for once one of my predictions proved to be correct. This possible match-up, however, is one I cannot pick a winner from.

We will know more and it will be easier deciding who will win when further details emerge (as in what weight the fight will be fought at, for how many rounds it will be scheduled, etc), but as of now, this one looks a tough fight to call.

Toney was the underdog back when he fought Jirov, and he will likely be the betting underdog going into the Lebedev bout also. But as we know, Toney has so much experience, so much ring-savvy and such a tough chin, that picking against him is never a wise thing to do - even now that he’s 43.

Article posted on 06.09.2011

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