James Toney - What's Next?

07.09.06 - By Craig Parrish: This past Saturday night, Samuel Peter was awarded a victory over James Toney in a Heavyweight elimination bout. Most fight fans had picked either Toney to win on points, or Peter to score a KO withone of his bludgeoning power shots. The Peter decision seemed like an odd outcome for these diametrically opposed fighters, and it was a decision that some observers do not agree with. Such is boxing.

Toney is a grizzled old fighter that has been in the game a long, long time. While his antics and profanity laced speeches outside the ring can be annoying, or entertaining depending on the spectator, Toney has proven many times that he is a master boxer. He does walk the walk. From his first pro fight in 1988,when Toney weighed a mere 160 pounds, to his latest fight at a whopping 233, he has exhibited skills that many fighters never master. Those skills have served him well in the multiple weight classes that he has triumphed in.

He has held belts of various distinction at middleweight, super middleweight, lightheavyweight, cruiserweight, super cruiserweight, and heavyweight. He wants to go on and become a legitimate heavyweight champion. But can it happen now? At 38 years old, does Toney have enough gas left in the tank to actually win one of these belts?

In his latest fight against Samuel Peter, he gave up 25 pounds and nearly 5 inches of height, not to mention he was 12 years older. But towards the later rounds of the fight, it was Toney who seemed to have more energy. He is very good at conserving it. However, this style that he employs to rest his weary body has hurt him, as his punch output can be quite low. Granted, his connecting percentage is usually greater than his opponent, but his general lack of work output seems to have worked against him especially in this fight. Peter threw a ton of punches, and a few that connected wobbled Toney a bit. But he has remarkable recuperative skills and finished the fight. For a man that many consider not to be a true heavyweight,Toney has one of the best chins in the business.

So he has skills, technique, and a great chin. He is 38, vastly overweight, and not a powerful puncher.Toney is already clamoring for a rematch against Peter, so it is unlikely that he is ready to hang them up. Can he do it? The answer I believe, is no.

If Toney could not defeat Hasim Rahman soundly, and could not school a plodding and straight a headfighter like Sam Peter, I simply see no way that he could wrest a belt from any of the other current champs.One of the main problems is that James simply refuses to get into shape. Itís like when he decided to moveup to heavyweight, somebody cut the ribbon at the all you can eat buffet and he just canít turn it down. Reportedly the only training he does is sparring. While some fighters can get away with this, itís just not enough for Toney. If he would work off some of that extra weight, then perhaps he would have more energy than just to fight in quick spurts and spend the rest of the time lying on the ropes. And when he does fight and land in spurts, itís just not with heavyweight power. He tagged Rahman many times during their draw and could not put him down, and Rahman is not blessed with the greatest beard. How would Toney fair against Liakovich, who has an iron chin and heavy hands? Toney would give up nearly 10 inches of height or so against Wladimir Klitshko, how could he get inside? And even if he could, would his punches shake up even the china-chinned Wlad? It just does not look good.

The only current champ that I think James perhaps would have had a shot with would have been Oleg Maskaev, but with his loss to Peter in the eliminator, that is out for now. And Sam will not give Toney a rematch, you can bet on it. Why would he? He is in line for a belt with a fight he could possibly win. He would be a fool to give Toney a rematch.

So the question is, whatís next for James Toney? Perhaps one of the belt holders will give him a shot. It has been reported that Wladimir Klitschko offered him a match but he turned it down. Will Don King try to match him up with Nikolay Valuev for a true ďDavid and GoliathĒ sideshow? Anythingís possible. Toney certainly still seems to have all of his faculties and a sharp wit after all this time in the ring. He could still fight for years. But based on his recent outings, his heavyweight championship dreams do not look good. But hey, anything can happen. Such is boxing.

Article posted on 07.09.2006

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