By Dave Wilcox
Last Saturday morning, I woke up with a smile on my face. It was one of those days that was filled with anticipation for me. I knew that on this day, history would be made because that evening the true Heavyweight champ would be crowned. Hasim Rahman would defend his crown against everyone’s favorite buffet customer, James “Lights Out” Toney.
Going into the bout, Hasim Rahman was considered by most the linear heavyweight champion and Toney was the one that many “experts” felt could bring a breath of fresh air to the much-maligned division. As it turned out, neither seems to be the case.
As I sat down and started watching the HBO telecast, my earlier anticipation quickly turned to disgust as James Toney took off his tarp and exposed us to his rotund body features.
I thought to myself, “This is the Heavyweight championship of the world for crying out loud and James Toney can barely break 240?” I couldn’t help but feel cheated by Toney’s lack of preparation. This is the same guy who 15 years and seventy-seven pounds ago stunned the Boxing world with his knockout victory over then undefeated Michael Nunn to take the Middleweight crown. If not for a little issue of a positive steroid test, he would have already been Heavyweight Champ after he beat “Everybody’s All-American” John Ruiz.
Don’t get me wrong, Toney is a sure fire hall of fame inductee and has been a superstar in our beloved sport for 15 years, but for the life of me, I just can’t figure how a guy could show such a lack of respect for the title. He talks a great game and generates a lot of attention for the sport and I appreciate that, but in my opinion there is no excuse for coming into that fight looking like Shamu. James Toney is better than that. He is not Tony Tubbs and I don’t want to think of him in that light. He was in a perfect position to take hold of the heavyweight lineage and he blew it.
As it was, it can be argued that he won anyway. Just think if he came in at about two and a quarter or less. The fight would have been easy for him. There is no way Rahman could have kept James from doing a number on him. Toney’s beautiful inside work and counter punching are rare traits these days and he flashed signs of that great ability throughout the bout when he wasn’t gasping for breath. It’s a good thing for Hasim Rahman that Toney wasn’t in shape because I have no doubt in my mind that Hasim wouldn’t have seen the final bell had Toney been in some sort of shape.
Going into the fight, I actually figured that Rahman would be able to use his size and power to wear down Toney and win the fight. I assumed that Toney’s lack of height and increased belt size would finally catch up to him. I guess I was right, but I should have been wrong. Rahman had everything going his way, but the crafty fat man made Rahman fight the wrong fight. Rahman kept saying he should stay in the middle of the ring and work his jab, but he just couldn’t resist Toney baiting him into the ropes for some schooling on the inside.
In a nutshell, James Toney did everyone, including himself a disservice by not preparing properly. In a sport where the participants are always looking for and demanding respect, I think we should in return demand a certain respect for the sport itself. I’ll mark this one down as yet another disappointment in the Heavyweight division. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I would expect more from a great fighter like James Toney.
From the mouths of babes dept:
I have started the brainwashing of my eight-year-old son. He now likes to watch the fights with me and even likes to score them. As I’ve proved, anyone can be a writer if you put a keyboard in front of them. After watching my son score fights, I’m convinced anyone can be a judge as well.
I watch the fights live without sound and then watch the replay with sound on so I can hear the incoherent ramblings of Larry Merchant. The reason I tell you that is so you know my son is not swayed by the constant cheerleading by Lampley and Merchant. As Antonio Tarver once said, “put down the pom-poms, Jim”
After twelve rounds, young Richard had the fight scored 115-113 for Hasim Rahman. Not bad for an eight year. Just think, in seventy years, he can be a real judge. I asked him why he thought that Rahman won. His reply, you ask? “Toney’s belly is bigger than your belly daddy, he can’t win.” That sounds logical to me.
Random Boxing thoughts:
- Is it just me or is John Ruiz coming off as a little baby? His constant whining as it relates to James Toney’s use of steroids before their bout reminds me of an argument between two school girls. Ruiz can’t really be that annoying can he? I know he is sitting back in his mansion laughing about how he messes with all of our minds with his fighting style and lack of personality. It’s probably just a game he’s playing and he is really the nicest guy in the world.
- I can’t wait for Oscar De La Hoya’s return to the ring against Ricardo Mayorga. I think Oscar is great for Boxing and we need guys like him to help us forget about the Heavyweights. As far as the fight goes, should be an easy victory for Oscar. Mayorga’s brawling style is tailor made for De La Hoya.
- The much anticipated Mayweather-Judah fight is coming up soon. I think Judah is a tremendous talent and has the skill to give Mayweather trouble, but I think his lack of focus and chin will be his downfall. If Judah couldn’t outbox Baldomir, how in the hell is he going to deal with Pretty Boy? I look for a late round stoppage for Mayweather.
- What happens when Arturo Gatti beats Carlos Baldomir? I hope for our sake and Arturo’s sake, somebody doesn’t start thinking about a rematch with Mayweather. That would be unfortunate. Yes, I do think Gatti will win the fight against Baldomir. He won’t try to slug it out. We’ll see the boxer/puncher version of Gatti, just as we did in his last fight.
- Just as I thought a proposed Roy Jones against Bernard Hopkins was a joke. I feel the same about the Antonio Tarver vs. Hopkins. Just another last grasp at pay-per view financial glory. I’m looking forward to Tarver’s bout against Balboa more than I am this PPV nightmare.
- One last thought on the heavyweights. Lamon Brewster is the best out there right now. He would be the guy that I would pick who has the best shot to be last man standing. He has youth, power, heart and Don King on his side.