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Great Article on UFC, BOXING and Toney.
JAMES TONEY has always been a colourful character. A great old-school type of fighter, bags of skill, willing to fight anyone and not afraid to get into the trenches and slug it out. James is a great boxer who after starting out down at middleweight rose through the weights to become a heavyweight champion, only to have the decision win against John Ruiz changed to a No Contest after failing a drug test. However, he has proved to be a handful in the premier division, even taking some big bombs along the way, notably against Sam Peter.
Over the last couple of years Toneys great defensive skills finally seem to be slipping, with the Michigan man getting hit more than hes accustomed to and after a couple of wins over second-rate opponents it seems that Toney is after a fresh challenge.
Toney has signed for the UFC, to try his hand in the Octagon. Now its no secret that over the last couple of years he has been doing a little MMA training here and there, but at 41 is it really wise for him to cross the codes?
This will give ammunition to the people who think that the UFC is better than boxing. Toney, who is now not able to beat the top guys in a poor division, will struggle against guys who have been practising MMA and competing in it for years. Hes grossly overweight, so I dont see him getting his legs very high and performing any axe kicks and I dont see him being nimble enough on the ground to get himself out of any holds. Yep, I think this could be a disaster for him.
In no way does it go towards telling you who is the best, a boxer or an MMA fighter. To me, they are two entirely different sports. Take away the kicking and grappling from the best of the UFC and they would have no chance in a straight punch-out with the best in the boxing world. Just the same, give them back those assets, and then the boxer is in trouble unless he gets his big shot in first, if hes a big puncher!
The sports themselves are comparable, yet separate. I think boxing needs to learn from the UFC in order to remain a popular sport. In the Octagon, they dont mind pitting themselves against the best. No-one cares about unbeaten records. Its all about the best really being the best. I like that idea. The crowds are packed because they know that they are going to a show where the card is stacked with competitive fights; if the main event turns out not to be so great, it doesnt matter too much as there will probably have been three or four really good fights on the show already. Its all about value for money.
Boxing needs to forget about protecting the records a little. Put the fighters in real fights, not life-and-death struggles, just competitive fights while they learn their trade. That makes them better boxers in the long run and then when they are TV fighters on the big shows, they will have the capabilities to take on better quality opponents and therefore the TV viewers will probably see better fights and want to watch next time. How often recently have we seen fights on TV where you know the house fighter will win without even having to work for the victory That doesnt do anything for anyone.
We could and should have a lot more good Area title-level battles, where unbeaten prospects go in against each other, the winner goes towards building for a British title crack, while the loser rebuilds and comes again. Remember Area title fights like Spencer Oliver v Patrick Mullings That was a great fight. The loss didnt do Pat any harm, they both learnt from that fight and the boxing fans at home remembered them BOTH for the fight they put on. We do get the odd fight like that at that level on the non-TV small-hall shows, but these days it is harder to convince a manager to risk his 6-0 kid as they probably feel that if they get him to 10-0 then hell get a shot at a decent title or get in the mix for eliminators. So its mainly the norm to carry on against good solid journeymen.
Its hard because in most cases, television likes the unbeaten prospects, but thats where I feel we suffer as a sport. Some of the best UFC fighters have losses, in fact most of them do, and more than one loss! But it does not affect the way they are revered in their sport. They come back, give a great fight and people go home talking about them again.
UFC as a sport could take over from boxing, and not because of boxers switching over to MMA. But because UFC consistently puts on regular entertaining shows whereas boxing at the moment puts on great shows once in a while. But when two evenly-matched boxers go at it, put it all on the line in front of thousands in a big arena, and the crowd are going mad jumping up and down to every big punch that lands, there is no better sport in the world to be watching.
Its simple, make entertaining fights, at whatever level, and people will watch boxing.
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