I have always been a fan of James “Lights Out” Toney until much later in his career. When he stopped Michael Nunn well behind on points, I cheered. His wars with Mike McCallum were all time classics and he grew as a fighter because of them. He went on to dominate the super middleweight division before running into a prime Roy Jones, JR. I was in the minority that thought that Toney would be too tough for Jones, but come fight night, Toney came into the fight at 167 but was later weighed at over 180 pounds. His dedication was in question and he wasn’t quick enough to catch Jones at any time. He lost and faded away quickly from a spot he worked so hard to earn.
He would lose to Jones in 1994 and then disappear from the mainstream of boxing, fighting in untelevised shows and gradually moving back into contention, but this time as a cruiserweight. He would land a shot at the undefeated Vassiliy Jirov and take the IBF Cruiserweight Title. It was broadcast live on HBO and it was a rebirth for Toney, leading to a PPV showdown with Evander Holyfield.
Toney at 217 pounds looked good as he battered Holyfield from round one on. He beat the “Real Deal” to the body and head and spoke to the press as he threw punches. It was a brash and impressive performance by Toney, scoring a 9th round stoppage. This was the last shining moment for “Lights Out.”
Although he performed incredibly well at 217, he moved up ten pounds in his next fight and then came in at 233 for his shot at John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight Title. Toney won the fight with his boxing ability, taking a wide unanimous decision, but the story of the fight was a positive test for steroids and the belt returning to Ruiz.
Toney’s age, fluctuation in weight, and steroid use had taken its toll on him. He lost back to back fights to Sam Peter, and would go on to look worse and worse each fight afterwards, leading to his MMA debut against Randy Couture. Couture easily got Toney to the floor and made him tap in the first round.
Those out there had claimed that Toney was too tough to tap, showing their ignorance. In MMA, you either tap or you have a limb or neck broken. Boxing is a sport where you only worry about punches (unless you are fighting Andrew Golota or Evander Holyfield), and you are trained to defend, deflect, and dodge. Toney was a defensive master of boxing, never knocked out and never close to being stopped. He rolled with punches and was nearly invisible to most of his opponents.
When he stepped into the Octagon, the UFC fans were salivating. There is this war between boxing and MMA, two completely different sports that apparently really dislike each other. So, when there is a crossover, it’s easy for one side to say: “See our sport is better because we won!” They are two different animals. It’s like comparing tennis with baseball. Both include sticks and balls but they are not the same.
Toney cage fighting is a joke and it wasn’t funny, but it was about the paycheck. I know the money is good, but why do these one time great fighters disgrace themselves in something that they know nothing of? Boxers usually get underpaid and that is the reason, but it’s too bad that it has to go down like this.
Expect James Toney to have another fight in the Octagon or return to boxing after the realization sets in that he cannot compete with ANY fighter that has a floor game. The minute he is down, it’s over, as displayed by Couture.
Kimbo Slice, the Youtube brawler turned mainstream MMA star, is leaving mixed martial arts to go into boxing and will have his debut in the near future. Slice was an overprotected novelty, a money-maker that had and still does have a huge fan base. When he was put into the cycle at the UFC where he had to earn his way to the top, he couldn’t hack it and now we have him entering boxing. This is not going to be pretty, but is boxing smart enough to use him the right way?
Slice will most likely be a heavyweight or cruiserweight, and they will probably make him the opener on pay per views as they did with Butterbean in the past. Slice knows how to fight but he is not an elite fighter and it’s yet to be seen if he can box. If they match him correctly, they could get him to an undefeated record in no time, but if they throw him to the wolves, which was done to Toney, he will be eaten up and spat out in a round.
I’m sure Ray Mercer is raising his hand, screaming: “I’ll box him!” Mercer lost in the first round of an MMA showdown with Slice, not being able to deal with him once he was taken off his feet. It’s the common loss for the boxer turned MMA fighter. If they can land before the MMA guy tackles them, they have a shot. Once they are floored, the party is over.
I enjoy watching Kimbo Slice fight. He’s got personality and will make some interesting promos going into his bouts. Perhaps a boxing match with Butterbean is on the horizon. They toyed with setting it up with the MMA for quite a while but it never came through. Maybe they will meet in the boxing ring.
If they can set up a sumo style match between the novelties of Bob Sapp and Butterbean, then they can sell anything. Butterbean lost to Sapp in the sumo challenge but losing doesn’t hurt Butterbean that much. People still love him and would pay to see him face Slice. It’d be a fun, meaningless match, but it would make money and if Slice won and compiled a record of 10-0 or so in boxing, he could begin to make some good money before cashing out against a real boxer that has some game.
The Boxing vs. MMA war is really non-existent. There is a war when it comes to Pay Per Views, hustling to force the fans to buy one or the other, but the animosity that exists you don’t see in many other sports. You don’t see baseball fans trash football or Nascar fans trash golf. It’s a very odd phenomena, but the point is that a mixed martial artist is handicapped in a boxing match and a boxer is a sitting duck in a cage. They are two different things altogether.