Is James Toney deserving of the WBC’s no1 heavyweight contender ranking?


25.11.05 – By Andy Meacock: It was announced a couple of weeks ago that James Toney has been made the no1 contender to Hasim Rahman for the newly crowned champion’s WBC heavyweight title. I like James Toney. I think that’s he’s a great fighter and he always has something funny to say during press conferences. However, I disagree with the ruling the WBC made making Toney mandatory challenger to Rahman..

What has Toney done to deserve to become the immediate no1 contender for the WBC strap?

Let’s think about this now. Toney’s beaten the slow and old Evander Holyfield, who is now a shadow of his once great self. He’s beaten the unknown Rydel Booker. He’s beaten John Ruiz, this fight was later called a no contest due to illegal substances that were found in James Toney’s post fight test results. He has also beaten Dominick Guinn, who prior to this fight with Toney had only won one of his last four bouts.

So tell me on the basis of that last paragraph does Toney really deserve to be WBC no1 challenger?. In all fairness to Toney, it’s not his fault that the WBC has installed him as the no1 contender, such blame lies at the door of the WBC.

Now since the whole fiasco involving Vitali Klitschko and Hasim Rahman another man has been staking his claim to become the no1 contender for the WBC heavyweight title. That man is Oleg Maskaev. Maskaev defeated Sinan Samil Sam just two weeks ago in a no1 contender match for the WBC heavyweight title.

Was Maskeav’s victory two weeks ago all in vain?. The answer pretty much is yes because the WBC has let him down and promoted Toney to no1 contender anyway. I think the WBC has let itself down greatly by making a very unfair decision that stinks of injustice…

Maskaev has been assured that he will face the winner of Rahman and Toney but who is to say that the WBC isn’t just going to vote someone like Wladimir Klitschko in as no1 contender and keep Maskaev waiting for a bit longer on the sidelines for his title shot?.

I appreciate that a match up between Rahman and Toney would generate more money for the WBC in sanction fees than Rahman/Maskaev but that really is not a fair excuse for the WBC to place Toney ahead of Maskaev. In my opinion, this is why the WBC has made the decision it has.

This isn’t the only questionable decision the WBC has made in recent times. Just prior to Rahman being promoted to heavyweight champion, the WBC was prepared to allow Vitali Klitschko to keep his title without defending it against a mandatory challenger for over twelve months. This would have been a clear breach of the WBC’s own rules.

Why did the WBC feel able to break such an important rule?. They said it was because Klitschko was injured and unable to defend. I personally don’t buy that explanation. The bottom line is that Klitschko fights sell more than Rahman fights and that’s why the WBC were prepared offer such leniency. The WBC is still considered to be the belt with the most prestige in professional boxing but when it makes decisions like it has recently then it undermines its own credibility.

This article could run forever but I’ll leave you with the most obvious example of the WBC making questionable decisions involving rankings.

Oscar de la Hoya. He’s the biggest name in the world of boxing today and his fight sell, they sell big. Now anyone who’s read my articles before knows that I’m something of a fan of Oscar’s and that I think he’s done plenty of good for boxing. That’s said, Oscar is a prime example of how name recognition get you automatic title shot with the WBC.

In 2004, Oscar made his ill fated move up to the middleweight division. He went up against a very game Felix Sturm and won a very controversial unanimous decision over the young German fighter for the WBO middleweight title. On the basis of this unpopular decision Oscar was made automatic no1 to fight the WBC/WBA/IBF champion at the time Bernard Hopkins. The rest is history as they say…

So having arguably lost his last three bouts (for the record I think Oscar lost to Sturm but beat Mosley), will Oscar de la Hoya have to earn his way back to the no1 contender’s position like any other fighter would?. No of course he doesn’t. Oscar will be battling Ricardo Mayorga for the WBC light middleweight title on May 6th 2006.

In closing, I respect the WBC and I respect that not all decisions in boxing are black and white. I just hope that they make better decisions than the ones we have seen at heavyweight recently as it not only affects the WBC’s credibility but it affects the credibility of boxing as a whole…