29.12.06 – By Paul McCreath: On Saturday January 6th, in Miami Florida, James Toney and Sam Peter will meet in a 12 round WBC heavyweight title eliminator rematch of their previous Sept 2nd bout. The first match ended with Peter gaining a controversial 12 round decision and the WBC, in their wisdom, decided that another fight was necessary to decide who would be the mandatory challenger for Oleg Maskaev.
The first meeting of these two men was hard to predict and this one is no easier. They are very evenly matched and Toney has a wide edge in technical skills and experience, while Peter is much bigger and stronger and hits harder. In order to try to pick a winner in this fight, we have to look at what might be different this time.
First of all, both fighters fight about the same way every time. With Peter, it is all about power and pressure, using his strength to wear down his opponent. Toney, on the other hand, is much more the defensive wizard, hard to hit and able to counter effectively. Since he has by far the most technical skills, one might expect that he would have more ability to make subtle changes in his approach that could make a difference. Peter is pretty much one dimensional. Nevertheless, Peter is much younger and less likely to decline due to sudden aging, although this should not be a big factor only 4 months after the first match.
Conditioning is always a big question mark with these two. Toney has not been in top shape for years and Peter carries a lot of extra weight as well. This time, there is a new factor to consider, namely Billy Blanks, Toney’s new trainer. Now Billy is not really a boxing trainer but Toney does not need anyone to teach him how to box. He needs to get into proper shape and that is where Billy can help. This bout was only signed a bit more than a month before the fight date so both fighters will have less time than usual to fine tune their bodies. This is not enough for either to achieve prime conditioning although it might not matter much even if they had more time. It will, however, give Billy the time to at least make some improvements in Toney if he has the will power to follow the advice he is given.
For his first match with Peter, Toney weighed 233 pounds, which is four pounds less than for the Rahman fight. At least he was moving in the right direction. However, it’s not unreasonable to think he might make 225 lbs this time, which would help. Peter, on the other hand, came in at his heaviest ever, at 257 lbs, last time out and won the verdict of the judges. Will he get even heavier?
This one could again go either way. While I am definitely not a James Toney fan, I lean a bit this time towards another close decision, this time in Toney’s favor.