The big men take center stage Atlantic City, as WBC heavyweight champion Hasim "The Rock" Rahman (41-4, 33KOs) defends his title against James "Lights Out" Toney (69-4, 43KOs). Rahman looks to take Toney out by using his power, while Toney looks to use his superior hand speed to outwork the bigger man.
Both fighters have seen their shining moments turn to nightmares. Rahman knocked Lennox Lewis out in 2001 for the heavyweight crown, only to lose it a few months later when Lewis knocked him out within four rounds. The loss to Lewis started a three fight losing streak for Rahman, which resulted in several years of constant activity to get himself back in mix. Most don't feel he is the true champion because he never beat the fighter most considered as the top, Vitali Klitschko.
After months of negotiations and delays, Klitschko retired before Rahman would ever get the chance to face him The interim title he won in his snoozer of a bout with Monte Barrett, would result in his coronation as the WBC champion. In other words, there are many who feel Rahman was "handed" the belt. A clear win over Toney may change the opinion of many.
James Toney is still looking for respect in the heavyweight division. After several heavyweight bouts, the verdict is still out on whether or not James can hang with the skilled big men of the division. As the case with Rahman, a win may change the minds of many. Toney gets a second chance to become only the third man in boxing history to start his career as a middleweight and win the heavyweight title.
The staff of BoxingScene get together to voice their opinions, strategies and predictions for the big fight.
Mike Indri - Hopefully I'm wrong, but I don't see this fight as one which will end up on anyone's year-end ballots for "fight of the year".
Remarkably, James Toney will do what he has to do to win, and congratulations will be in order; while Hasim Rahman hasn't shown, in close to five years, that he even has enough left to do the things he would need to do to beat the vastly skilled future middleweight-to-heavyweight world champion.
James Toney over Hasim Rahman via unanimous decision, or a very late TKO.
Tim Smith - I'm troubled by Rahman's lack of consistency in big fights throughout his career. He's up and down. Toney has matured into a true heavyweight and his style is hard to figure out and even harder to beat. I don't think Rahman has the energy level to deal with Toney, who can be a buzzsaw inside.
I like Toney by decision.
Ron Borges - Rahman will find it difficult to hit him with the right hand, which Toney has learned to avoid like the plague. Unless Rahman can cope with the frustrations this will cause he will ultimately cooperate in his own demise, as he has in big fights in the past.
Toney by decision.
Brent Matteo Alderson - I'm really excited about this fight. Everything points to a decision victory for Toney. He easily dominated Holyfield and Ruiz while Hasim lost to both of them. Also, Toney seems like he's really came into his own at heavyweight and Rahman is so inconsistent, the only time he looks good is when he fights David Tua. That being said I still don't think Toney has beaten a genuine modern day heavyweight with the exception of Ruiz who loses to smaller guys as he did against Toney, Jones, and Kobozev.
Even though all the factors point to a Toney win, I think Rahman can pull it out. I feel that this is Toney's first true test at heavyweight and I have a gut feeling he's not going to pass it.
David Sauvage - James Toney isn't a heavyweight. He's a middleweight with a tire around his belly. Yeah, he beat John Ruiz. But John Ruiz is an anomaly in every conceivable sense; the fact that he's a common opponent just confuses matters. The reality is that when Toney faces the first serious heavyweight in his blubbery career this Saturday night, he's certain to realize that in war, skill is second to firepower. If Rahman shows up with even a hint of the same aggression he showed against Kali Meehan, he shouldn't have any difficulty at all .
The Rock knocks Toney out in 9.
"JC" Jerry Casarez - Anytime you put James in the ring with any Heavyweight the result will be the same. James simply has too many punches and moves in his repertoire for even a motivated and in shape Rahman. I see James winning this fight by using his advantages where they count and that's his inside fighting. Name one other Heavyweight that fights in the pocket while constantly slipping punches and when he makes you miss - he'll make you pay. Rahman's only chance is landing something big and hoping he gets lucky. And after years of seeing Toney train with Heavyweights, I can't say I've ever seen him hurt, let alone hit flush.
James"Lights Out" Toney by unanimous decision.
Tom Donelson - This is one of those fights where on the surface it appears to favor Rahman. I remember predicting that Roy Jones would lose to John Ruiz. I was wrong. I remember calling Toney's defeat at the hands of the same Ruiz. On the surface, Rahman should win. He is bigger puncher and a decent boxer for a heavyweight. He is four years younger than Toney, and Toney will go into the fight at the heaviest weight of his fighting career. I have been wrong twice in favoring the big guy over the smaller former middleweight. So I am tempting fate and throwing out the facts. I will favor Toney this time around.
Toney is a slippery boxer who knows the game inside and out. He has more moves than a salsa dancer and is as difficult to hit even if he stands in front of you Toney will not knock Rahman, out but he will frustrate him and find a way to pull out what should be an easy decision.
Toney by decision.
Jose Aguirre - Lackluster wins over Kali Meehan and Monte Barrett are not enough to match the skills of James Toney, who is finally fighting at his natural weight. Toney is a throwback boxer who fights with excitement regardless of the weight class. Look for that James Toney uppercut on the inside.
Toney by unanimous decision.
David P. Greisman - James Toney is a master boxer, but with his plentiful size and his ability to punish with pop, he is far more entertaining to watch as he practices his craft over twelve rounds than another technician much less than half the size of "Lights Out," strawweight Ivan Calderon.
Toney hasn't lost since 1997, but there's a different distinction in that Toney hasn't been beaten since 1996. It seems that in advancing to heavyweight, Toney has figured out that it's harder to beat himself when he doesn't have to worry about weight.
And it's been clear that everyone is worried about weight except James Toney. Even if he comes into the ring as a self-described bowling ball, he still knows how to knock down pins. With his vast knowledge and experience, he could hit the equivalent of boxing's 7-10 split at a better percentage than former basketball player Mark Price could hit free throws.
That leaves it for Hasim Rahman to beat James Toney, a task that takes exceptional ability and/or exceptional discipline. Rahman has considerable power, but has also been happy to jab the duration of a fight. I don't expect that to happen here, not when the stakes are the heavyweight championship of the world, and not when the winner is seeking a mandate that they can carry forward to an eventual unification.
Nor do I believe Rahman is used to facing an opponent like Toney. While David Tua approximated Toney's size, Tua enjoyed more room from which he could launch his power hooks. Toney doesn't need room to counter, and can work from both the outside and in.
Look for Rahman to establish distance with his jab and try to parley that into crosses, only to receive Toney counter shots in return. Toney loves to throw his right in response to that of his opponent, and I doubt that Rahman can resist the urge to turn over his power in an attempt to send a message to Toney and to his doubters.
Once the outside counters have been established, Toney will work his way inside, and as a master boxer, few know how to work in there better than he.
It may not be "Lights Out" for Rahman, but it will be "Lights Out" as the winner by decision, and with the bright lights on, the heavyweight division will finally continue its move forward in a positive direction.
Hank Kaplan - I think Toney is physically ready to break down in this fight and I picture him breaking down against Rahman. I like Rahman in the fight. Rahman by decision.
Charles Jay - I see James Toney outworking the bigger Hasim Rahman over twelve rounds. Toney by decision.
Dr. Peter Edwards - Rahman looks very serious for this fight. Top Rank has pumped millions into this man and I don't think they would put him up against a guy they felt could beat him. The champion will pull off the upset and grab the unanimous decision.
Mark Workman - This is one heavyweight title fight that I find myself unable to get too overly excited about. The champion, Hasim "The Rock" Rahman, who was given his WBC belt when Vitali Klitschko retired late last year, has always been consistently inconsistent. You never know what to expect from him, despite HBO and Bob Arum constantly harping on his "legendary" KO of Lennox Lewis 5 long years ago. We all know what happened in their rematch 7 months later. Lewis destroyed Rahman in the fourth round.
James "Lights Out" Toney is a highly skilled fighter and multi-division champion, but I just don't get him as a heavyweight. Not yet, anyway. A 5'9" tall fighter carting around 250lbs just doesn't fit my idea of a real heavyweight champion. I take nothing away from Toney. He's accomplished a lot in the sport. But winning the WBC belt from Rahman proves about as much in the big scheme of things as what was proven when Rahman was given the belt by the WBC. And that proved nothing.
Until these 4 belt-holders start fighting each other and prove who is the true heavyweight champion of the world, these upcoming heavyweight title fights accomplish nothing of real substance for the future of the heavyweight division and the sport as a whole.
I think Rahman's only chance of beating Toney comes in the first half of the fight. If Rahman can use his considerable jab to keep Toney off of him and work his body hard to break him down, he might be able to slow Toney down enough to land that here-today-gone-tomorrow big right hand of his and stop Toney. If it goes into the later rounds, I see Toney systematically chipping away at The Rock and winning a unanimous decision. Toney's a master at fighting on the inside, slipping punches and inflicting a lot of damage with his short, heavy shots. And his solid chin is undeniable.
I'm not going to be one to keep harping about Toney's weight. But the image of the heavyweight champion, good or bad, is a reflection on the sport. But, frankly, I'd rather see a heavyweight champion who was a bit overweight but fought the best in the division and unified the title than someone who looked the "classic" part but continued to protect his piece of the pie by ducking everyone in sight who was a real threat to him, caring only about how much money he's making. Whatever happened to the concept of glory?
I see James "Lights Out" Toney wearing a green belt Saturday night. And if he actually started making serious moves to unify the heavyweight crown, a seemingly impossible task these days, I might actually begin to become a true believer.
Even more will depend on Toney's conditioning and tonnage, which Freddie Roach doesn't seem to be able to control. The last time I saw him a few weeks ago, he surrounded me by standing still. If he's lost that flab and bulk, the fight will be a lot more competitive. I don't agree with him about age either. He's good, but he's not getting better as the years advance and thirty seven is pushing it.
Rahman says he can finish it in less than six. I do see the bigger man defeating the smaller man. But I think it'll take longer. I think a focused Rahman could stop Toney within ten.
Eric Rineer - This should be an entertaining fight to watch. On one hand, you have got James "Lights Out" Toney. He's one of the slickest fighters the game has ever seen. On the other hand, Hasim "The Rock" Rahman. He's capable of knocking out anybody as he did against Lennox Lewis. I've got to believe, though, that James Toney will wear down the big fella. He's going to have to dodge some heavy bullets, including a very good jab, but I think he'll do it.
I'm going with "Lights Out" in a 10th-round stoppage.
Matthew Sanderson - James Toney is the hypnotist of the heavyweight division. The crafty old pro, who's been in with everyone from the great Mike McCallum to rampaging cruiser Vassiliy Jirov, might be overweight and slowed down, but he doesn't need to match the powerful Rahman physically. The tough as nails former middle, super middle and cruiserweight champion can lull Hasim into his lazy rhythm, and take away the man's strong jab along with his imagination, to outwork and quite possibly bust him up in close with short punches.
Toney's upper body movement will protect him from taking anything truly hurtful, and the tubby veteran should win a 12 round decision.
Glenn Wilson - It is easy to see Toney winning in a landslide, he is undoubtedly the most skilled Heavyweight out there, but that is where I have my problem with Toney. The so called top name Heavyweights that he beat have been just that, top in name only. He beat a used up Evander Holyfield, a boring John Ruiz and a fighter that never lived up to his promise in Dominick Guinn. I still don't believe that he has been tested as a Heavyweight ,but Rahman will have to stay busy and not fall into a habit of trying for the one big shot.
I want to say Toney wins easily, winning eight to ten rounds of the fight, but I really believe that Rahman will eventually land the one big shot that will stop Toney late.
Alphonso Costello - Defeating a who's who of perennial jabronies on his way to a paper championship, Hasim Rahman's WBC title "defense" against James Toney should boost a drab and diluted heavyweight division. With Al Cole, Rob Calloway and Kali Meehan aside, which Hasim Rahman will show up at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday night? Will it be the Rahman that knocked out World Champion Lennox Lewis in 2001? Or the slothful Rahman that lost to the "dreary one" John Ruiz?
It doesn't matter, Toney defeats Rahman by decision.
Joe Harrison - This should be an interesting bout. You never know which Hasim Rahman you'll see. Sometimes he's a tough power-puncher, and sometimes he's slow and boring. It is doubtful that he will be able to handle the smarter and more skilled James Toney.
Toney over Rahman by unanimous decision
Jacquie Richardson - If James Toney succeeds in getting under Rahman's skin, the fight will be tougher for Hasim. If Hasim Rahman remains cool, calm and collected, and if he can get James off the ropes, he can win. James is really heavy and as long as he can lay on the ropes, its his game. Up to Hasim to turn this counterpuncher into a fighter.
I still give the fight to James Toney, but its not going to be easy.
Ron Gallegos - He's looks like a guy that's not supposed to win, he's an overblown middleweight, the weight that he has put on is hardly making him look "cut". James almost always finds a way to win, he's a throwback to the Mongoose. Toney is entertaining and a winner, a lot is riding on this one and I really think James is taking this fight very seriously.
Will the ring rust take its toll? Absolutely. But, when was the last time Rahman was in the ring for a real fight. He will fight Light's Out a worthy opponent. James can roll with a punch and can hurt you even when he has been hurt.
I look for James to win with a late KO. If it goes to the end, Rahman will take the decision.
Brian Blake - Toney outpoints Rahman over the course of twelve rounds to become the new WBC heavyweight champion.
Toney by decision.
TK Stewart - I see this as a fight between a guy with great ring skills in James Toney, and a guy with comparative novice skills in Hasim Rahman. Toney's list of accomplishments is hall of fame worthy. Rahman, on the other hand, has made a career from the one punch knockout of Lennox Lewis, and later their ESPN in-studio scuffle.
Toney does not get hit flush very often, he has old school skills and he's relaxed in the ring. Toney also lands nice clean shots even if they only come one at a time. In these recent heavyweight fights Toney has barely lost a round and he has beaten two fighters in Holyfield and Ruiz that Hasim Rahman suffered clear losses against.
Rahman's chin is a huge liability for him. One of the most important qualities a heavyweight needs is the ability to take a good shot and Rahman has showed he can't. Even in his last bout against light punching Monte Barrett, Rahman was wobbled badly. Rahman tired, appeared slow and he was unsteady on his feet against Barrett.
James Toney hasn't lost a fight in nine years. This fight against Rahman will be no different and I look for Toney to stop Rahman after the tenth round. The only thing about this fight that intrigues me is what James Toney will weigh.
Rusty Rubin - No way that Rahman will stop Toney from getting inside.
Toney by decision.
Dave Wilcox - The conventional wisdom is that James Toney is the Heavyweight savior. His ability to slip punches and throw combinations is a rare talent these days. The problem I have is his weight and size. Against an old Holyfield and John Ruiz, he was able to get away with it. Against a big Heavyweight like Rahman, I'm not so sure. Rahman is so inconsistent, it's very hard to predict which one will show up. I will assume that a motivated Rock will step into the ring. I'm going with the mild upset here.
I think Rahman will surprise people and win by late round TKO. The weight and age of James Toney will finally catch up to him. A tired and battered Toney won't make the final bell.
Matthew Hurley - I've always been a fan of James Toney. A long suffering fan. Every time I think he is finally going to keep me from shaking my head in bewilderment something happens. It's when I'm not expecting a great showing that I sit back and just watch this master technician do what he should have been doing his entire career.
Toney should take Rahman to school. I really feel that Hasim can't do a thing that will discourage James. But, regardless of weight, which will never really be an issue with the human parade float because he's so technically gifted, Toney is getting old and he's been around forever. He's got to slow down sometime. And Rahman is a big strong heavyweight with a good jab, when he elects to use it. Still, Rahman will always be the perenial contender. There's nothing really special about him. James is something totally different.
I'm looking for a supreme effort from Toney. Rahman will try to establish the jab and a fast pace but Toney will shrug off anything Rahman has to offer. After four rounds it won't even be close.
Toney by a wide unanimous decision.
Larry Tornambe - I really think that James Toney comes into this bout more inspired and with a bit of an edge in boxing ability.
I look for Toney to win a decision.
Jim Cawkwell - Rumors circulating from the Hasim Rahman camp indicate that he is in his best shape since he took the title from Lennox Lewis. I take nothing from that since Rahman was looking for a way out of that fight until the opportunity for that single shot arrived. If Rahman is in shape to go twelve hard rounds, I see that as his only chance in defeating James Toney. Rahman's power is irrelevant because Toney can negate it with his superior defense even while standing in front of Rahman. People make so much of Rahman's title winning effort against Lewis, but once again, he faces a thirty-seven-year-old fighter, except this time, he faces one in Toney with more speed, skill and attitude while fighting than Lewis ever had.
Toney by unanimous decision.
Richard McManus - Rahman's sheer size, strength and legit heavyweight experience should be enough here to give Toney his first loss since Drake Thadzi in 1997. Toney
should have some moments inside but in the end Rahman will wear him down. My head and heart say Toney, but my gut says Rahman.
Carlos Irusta - Despite all of his problems, Toney is one of the better boxers in the game and I think he will outbox Rahman, who is a little slow for him.
I don't usually predict the final result, but I see Toney by points or TKO in late rounds.
Don Colgan - Toney is not a real heavyweight and will be exposed accordingly, unless he hits Rahman with something big on the chin.
Rahman by TKO in 9 rounds.
Sammy Rozenberg - Rahman gets in trouble early by letting Toney outbox him for a better part of the fight, but comes from behind in the final stanza of the fight to stop Toney.
Keith Terceira - For Hasim Rahman to win this bout he will have to find a means to negate Toney's superb inside skills. Based on Rahman's performance against John Ruiz's "holdem then foldem" style where Rahman couldn't keep the Quiet man from tying him up inside.
If Rahman can stay off the ropes and keep Toney at arms length, he has the tools to bang the body enough to even the playing field in the later rounds. Forcing Toney to the ropes, then standing off and battering James at the end of his punches, controlling the center of the ring is Rahman's only hope at success.
Toney needs to get inside and stay inside on Hasim, his experience, short quick punches, and tremendous infighting skills make Toney my favorite for this bout. Unfortunately Toney's training regime (or lack thereof) keeps me from risking any greenbacks. Though Rahman has the reach advantage I don't feel he has the conditioning and knowledge to keep Toney at arms length for 12 rounds.
Ronnie Nathanielsz - While Hashim Rahman is bigger and possibly stronger than James Toney, I think Toney is a much smarter fighter who also has the ability to get into his opponents' head. Rahman has a decent jab but he may get carried away and try to nail Toney early which would be disastrous because James is almost certain to catch him with a counter-punch - which he is good at landing.
While I have watched Toney up close in the Wild Card Gym and love his character, especially when he plays around with Filipino ring idol Manny Pacquiao, I love and respect Freddie Roach even more. With Freddie in Toney's corner what more can Toney ask for and Rahman not want. Partly for sentimental reasons, I pick Toney by a late knockout.
Javier Molina - With out a doubt this will be a good fight to watch, Both men have disrespected each other during the making of this fight. Although both men have predicted a convincing victory, I believe both of them will be in great shape. Rahman's heavy hands will be the main factor in this fight.
Rahman wins this close and exciting heavyweight matchup.
Paul Gallegos - After that disaster in England, I don't claim to know anything about boxing anymore. I think that James Toney is crafty enough to earn a hard-fought victory over 12 rounds. This fight really depends on which Rahman decides to attend the event. If Rahman comes out winging like he did against Lennox in their first contest, then it could be a short night.
Then again, Toney is one of the few in the heavyweight division (even though he is a blown up middle weight) who actually knows every in and out of the science of boxing. Toney really likes to fight and he brings it every time out.
Forget about the James Toney from the early 90s when he was outclassed by an in form Roy Jones. James has become a smarter fighter over time when most are looking forward to collecting their pensions. Either way, this will be a fight that define one of these pugilists careers. Tough one to call. Rahman's punch vs. Toney's defense.
Toney by decision.
Steve Cummings - By making a prediction, does that mean I care what goes on in the heavyweight division? Well, when old guys who are out of shape square off with out of shape guys who are also old, it's really hard to say what will happen. Toney?s proved me wrong so many times that I have to say his fast hands will be too much for whoever shows up under the name of Hasim Rahman that night.
Toney wins a boring decision.
Adam Pollack - Rahman will win because he is bigger and stronger and will likely be in better shape, and also has the jab to throw James off his rhythm.
Toney is mostly a defensive fighter who, without steroids, will not have what it takes to defeat a legitimately good heavyweight. James has made his name in the heavyweight division against a guy that was totally shot (Holyfield) and a guy who never really was respected anyway and who had already been defeated by another former middleweight (Ruiz).
Rahman by decision.
Rick Reeno - Rahman has the size and certainly has the boxing skills in his repertoire, but I cant for the life of me get past his inconstancy in fights. In his most embarrassing loss, even more so than the John Ruiz debacle, he was knocked out of the ring by Oleg Maskaev and almost landed on the lap of the HBO broadcast crew. Throw in the losses to John Ruiz, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, lackluster performances against Al Cole, Monte Barrett, and I can't even think about going against Toney in this bout.
Toney by decision.