By Alexey Sukachev
The war is on! James Toney (73-6-4, 44 KOs) and Denis Lebedev (22-1, 17 KOs), who clash for the WBA-interim cruiserweight title on Nov. 4 in Moscow, Russia, weren’t too loquacious during the recent leg of their press-tour. No words were needed, as both combatants looked absolutely fit and concentrated on wreaking havoc inside the squared circle.
Toney's attitude came as a surprise for local organizers and a number of media in attendance as well; with most of them being prepared for a trash-talking fusillade by the flamboyant “Lights Out” Toney.
However, they were fooled by the legendary fighter who got up in the middle of the press conference at the Crocus-City Mall on the outskirts of the Russian capital and walked out on the gathering.
Toney's reason for walking out? (translated through his manager Ivaylo Gotzev, who also served as an interpreter during the event):
“I was afraid to knock someone out. It would take him (Lebedev) no less than a month to recover if I kick his ass during the presser, while the fight is just a week away. There are so many little men around. On November 4 there will be plenty of witnesses, and I just cannot let them down by being involved into a brawl beforehand."
The presser was initiated by the promoter of the event Vladimir Hryunov, who introduced Toney to the media once again.
Hryunov: “We have gathered here to meet the participants of the huge upcoming war between James Toney and Denis Lebedev, which happens to take place on November 4. Another reason is also evident. In his recent interview, Toney insulted one of local journalists and he has also outraged Russia’s brightest ring legend Kostya Tszyu, who happens to be preparing Denis for the fight. That’s why we invited all of you here tonight. We are interested, what’s up, Mr. Toney?
Toney: “Vlad, I don’t care a single bit about your escapades. I was a champion in three different weight classes and I competed in four divisions. If you want, we can do it right here and now. I won’t tell you anything of what I shall do in the ring on next Friday night. This is serious. This is serious. I love Russian fight fans, I really do. But I’m forced to disappoint them. I’ll get the rid of that guy Lebedev”.
Lebedev: “I thank my team for giving me this fight. James Toney is the type of guy you want to fight with a world title at stake. For all of his statements, I have just one answer – look carefully at his record. There’s one zero domain there – none of his defeats came by KO. With all due respect to James Toney, I’ll do my very best to eliminate this blemish on your record.
Toney: “Damn, I’m scared! I’m the best that have you have ever seen inside the ropes and by far. And on November 4 I’ll be your nightmare. Even my sparring-partner boxes better than you do. I’m here to present Russians with world-class boxing. I have nothing against Denis Lebedev but we are in different leagues, and you know perfectly which one is mine”.
Lebedev: “I’m scared to the bones”.
Then reporters got in with several questions to both fighters.
- Tell us more about your sparring partner and your training camp.
Toney: He was left in Los Angeles. I havd more than a hundred rounds in the gym, so I’m ready. I have been boxing for more than twenty-five years so I know perfectly what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. I had my first professional fight when Denis was just seven years old.
- Tell us your predictions on the upcoming fight.
Toney: My opponent will have big problems from the very first round of the fight.
Lebedev: Everything will be resolved in later rounds. We shall win and we shall win handily.
- Have you ever been to the army?
Toney: No, I haven’t served my duties but I was raised in Detroit, the Motor-City, where war never ends.
Lebedev: I was brought up by the CSKA (Central Soviet Club of Army) and it’s where I have served my duties. I know what army is all about.
- Who would have won in a fight between Buddy McGirt and Kostya Tszyu?
Toney: I know Kostya was recently inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I feel good for him. And I feel bad that Buddy hasn’t been inducted yet to the IBHOF. He is really worthy. My own opinion is that had the fight been arranged fifteen years ago, James “Buddy” McGirt would have knocked Tszyu out. It’s never late to make a fight like this – a fight between two dinosaurs of the ring.
Lebedev: Kostya is simply the better boxer. He would have won without any problems.