Is James Toney Afraid Of Wladimir Klitschko?

02.06.06 - By Matt Stein: According to a recent interview at Seconds Out, James Toney is entertaining fight offers from three different heavyweight champions, from Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KO's), Sergei Liakhovich to Hasim Rahman. However, Toney's promoter, Dan Goosen, prefers for Toney (69-4-3, 43 KO's) to fight the winner of the Hasim Rahman vs. Oleg Maskaev fight for the WBC heavyweight title, which will be taking place on July 29, 2006. Goosen further states that they'll make their decision on who'll they'll be facing following the weekend. That being said, I think I smell fear coming from Toney's direction and I'm starting to expect that Toney will opt out of fighting Wladimir, and choose the easier option of fighting the winner of Rahman - Maskaev, even though he would likely make more money by fighting Wladimir Klitschko, the current IBF heavyweight champion.

If the 37-year-old Toney is so confident in his ability, why not risk all and take the bigger fight against Wladimir? Heck, if Wladimir is willing to take the shot, why not Toney?

Let me guess: Toney probably saw Wladimir's fight with Chris Byrd and noticed how Wladimir gave Byrd a seven round beating, ending in a TKO. Seeing this brutal one-sided affair, might be giving Toney second thoughts about wanting to fight an offensive machine like Wladimir. Could that be it?

Against Hasim Rahman, I scored the fight for Rahman by at least three rounds and felt that Toney was given a gift by receiving a draw. However, in a match with Wladimir, that's a whole different level of a fighter, a more advanced offensive puncher. That's not to say that Rahman can't punch because he has good power. However, Wladimir is a much more devastating puncher, who is capable of knocking an opponent out with every punch. Plus, when you factor in Wladimir's huge height and reach advantage, being that he is 6'6", 244 lbs and is in excellent shape compared to Toney's 5'9" 245 lbs.

More importantly, Wladimir, who prefers to fight on the outside, would be beyond the range of Toney's shorter reach, forcing Toney to constantly have to make bull-like charges to try and get inside. As we saw in Wladimir's fight with Samuel Peter, trying to get inside on Wladimir has it's own perils, as when Peter almost had his head knocked off in the 12th when he blindly tried to walk in and got blasted with a perfectly thrown left hook that staggered badly. For me, I can understand it if Toney decides to fight the easier fight, since getting badly beaten up, or worse, knocked out, would be a huge blow to his reputation and ego. To be honest, I don't think Toney could make it 12 rounds with Wladimir, no matter what strategy he uses. As many people know, Toney’s noted for his excellent head movement. However, Wladimir is extremely good at picking off a moving target and this tactic would likely turn Toney’s head into a moving speed bag, a target Wladimir would pick apart.

Let's hope that Toney makes the good choice of choosing to take on Wladimir next, because it would say a lot about him as a fighter and he would win a tremendous amount of respect in the boxing world, as well putting him in the biggest fight of his heavyweight career. Honestly, there's no other heavyweight match out there right now that's bigger than Wladimir vs. Toney. Put it this way, even if Toney loses, he still gains by having made the courageous decision to face someone as talented as Wladimir. Besides that, Toney could always turn around and pick up the pieces and fight for a heavyweight title in another division, possibly against the WBC heavyweight champion, his original plan. What if Toney loses? Sure, it would be humiliating to be beaten to a pulp in front of a world wide audience, but you never know, Toney might win. As was shown in the past by Lamon Brewster, Corrie Sanders and Ross Puritty, Wladimir isn’t infallible.

Article posted on 03.06.2006

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