If James Toney wins “Prizefighter” – what then?

With just hours to go until tonight’s intriguing edition of “Prizefighter: UK Vs. USA” gets underway – and with the debate continuing as to whether or not former multi-weight ruler James Toney should even be participating – the betting odds have shifted in the 45-year-old’s favour.

Toney, a veteran of 88 pro outings dating back to the tail end of the 1980s when his marvellous career began, has surprised many by getting himself in good physical shape (at least Toney looks to be in good shape, having dropped something like 50-pounds) and tipping-in at a lowly (for him) 217-pounds. This, and the fact that Toney has been matched with relative novice Matt Legg (who has just 7 pro bouts to his name) in his first fight, must be what has influenced the bookmakers.

And, without being disrespectful to Legg and all the other participants of tonight’s show, the Toney of the 90’s and early to mid-2000s would have surely won this tournament with relative ease. But what has Toney – one win removed from his out of shape points loss to Lucas Browne, this win an unimpressive points win over a club fighter – got left in his once remarkable bag of fistic tricks today?

Toney has enjoyed the attention his name has attracted in London and the weight he’s come in at suggests he wants to put on a good show for what he calls “the passionate British fans.” And Toney, never at a loss for words, even if they are delivered in a somewhat less articulate fashion these days (Toney’s ghetto, can’t be bothered to speak clearly, drawl or a sure sign of damage picked up during his long and at times hard career?) says he will use his Prizefighter win as a springboard to yet another world title shot. For Toney still believes he can become the undisputed heavyweight champion (even if he on occasion says how the belts “mean nuthin’ to me.”)

That is surely a pipe dream and nothing more, but rest assured, if Toney is victorious tonight (and U.K trade paper Boxing News also pick him to win the £32 grand and the trophy that goes with it) he WILL fight on. Heck, even if he loses in his opening bout (not altogether impossible, especially when you consider Toney’s tendency to be lazy, if cute, in fights) Toney will fight on. As he says, boxing is in his DNA. Toney simply knows nothing else but fighting. And, as long as he’s licensed, as he was by the BBB of C, the show will go on.

It’s not too hard to picture Toney boxing on at the age of 50, maybe even beyond that. If he wins tonight, and puts the Prizefighter cup in his trophy cabinet “right next to all my belts,” as he told this writer last week, it will be a signal that he has something left to offer. You can call it mixed signals if you like, but Toney will indeed win tonight (in my opinion for what it’s worth) and the promoters will “reward” him with a big fight as a result.

Let’s take a look at some of the fights Toney might go on to be matched in:

Toney Vs. David Price.

Price wants what he calls a “live opponent” to return to the ring against and if Toney wins tonight and then opts to box in the UK again (as he told me he may well do), this one could happen. And, smirk if you want, but wouldn’t Price receive plaudits if he became the first man to halt the future Hall of Famer?

Toney Vs. Deontay Wilder.

I know what you’re thinking: “ooh, nasty!” This fight would only have seen one winner five years or so ago, but today, in looking to prove he is the real deal from the U.S heavyweight division, Wilder would take no mercy on Toney. The scary KO Wilder scored over Serghei Liakhovich was brutal. This fight could have an even nastier ending. Team-Wilder might look Toney’s way, however, purely for the name value he would bring.

Toney Vs. Antonio Tarver.

Toney has called out Tarver before and now that he’s on the comeback trail himself, maybe Tarver will agree to this seniors match-up. Toney would actually have a good shot at winning this one!