James Toney-Sergei Liakhovich In August?


by James Slater – Both guys are past their best by quite a long way, yet the possible heavyweight pairing that is James “Lights Out” Toney and “The White Wolf,” Sergei Liakhovich is still one that would likely garner some fan attention. According to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, the heavyweight bout is in the works for either early or late August, in Primm, Nevada. According to Rafael’s short news bit, Liakhovich’s manager, Ivaylo Gotzev, informed ESPN that the fight’s original date of July 4th has been put back and that the fight will now happen on either August 1st or August 29th. In addition, Sam Peter (also managed by Gotzev) will box on the under-card against an as yet unannounced opponent. So, a card of faded names is in store, but a decent enough card all the same..

“Lights Out,” now aged 40, would be coming into the Liakhovich bout off a lacklustre and debatable points win over Fres Oqunedo. Barely beating “The Big O” back in December of last year, Toney looked to have lost the fight in the opinion of many. Still, against Belarus’ former WBO heavyweight champion Toney would be going in with a man who has been far from active over the past two-and-a-half years. 33-year-old Liakhovich, 23-3(14) has not fought since his Feb. 2008 points loss to Nikolai Valuev, and before that fight Sergei last boxed in November of 2006 – losing in the 12th and final round in his WBO title defence against Shannon Briggs. Toney, then, despite being slower, heavier and easier to hit than ever before, will have the advantage of being active.

Also, despite what his critics have said, the now 71-6-3(43) Toney has done pretty well for himself up at heavyweight; especially when we consider how he is a 5’10” former middleweight. Yet to be stopped, “Lights Out” has been in with some big guys, big men who can punch some, at that. Okay, the one-dimensional and ultimately disappointing “Nigerian Nightmare” beat him badly in their second fight in January of 2007 – even flooring Toney at one point during the distance win he dominated – but the future Hall of Famer’s rock chin and ring smarts got him through to the final bell. It’s unlikely a ring-rusty Liakhovich will be able to stop Toney.

His skills have faded, along with his reflexes, but Toney has forgotten more about boxing than Liakhovich will ever learn. Long term, it’s probably not a good idea for James to carry on fighting – especially against heavyweights – but as poor as he looked last time out, there figure to be a few more wins in Toney’s future.

If the Liakhovich fight does indeed come off, don’t go expecting a classic shootout. Instead, look for what’s left of the once superb James Toney to fiddle his way to a close decision.

What this will prove, however, is up to you.

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