Lights out – the James Toney story

James Toney

James Toney

Freddie Roach knows his boxing, when the universally recognised best trainer in the world says “Toney is the most natural fighter I’ve ever seen, when Toney says, ‘All you mother F*****s have to train but I was born to fight,’ he means it. The way he moved, the vision he had, to see everything coming at him, he was just so gifted. He’s getting older now and getting hit more than ever. At his peak, though, he’d sit on the ropes and make you miss a hundred punches and come back with counter shots. It was something to watch”.

James Toney is something of an enigma in boxing – he’s had the mega fights from middleweight through to heavyweight (he is the current holder of the lightly regarded IBA heavyweight belt), his skills are universally accepted as something quite special indeed and he has the trash talking smarts to make him a treat to listen to. He has it all in spades, but there is also the frustrating side of Toney – the steroid abuse (he was stripped of his win over John Ruiz for testing positive for anabolic steroids), the total lack of dedication to training, and many a mixed performance along the way. You only need to look at the below photo to see quite how dramatic his weight has fluctuated over his career.

James Toney

The journey from middleweight to heavyweight

Freddie Roach has also commented on Toney’s notorious recalcitrance for training. “He had no discipline,” Roach said. “If he had discipline he could’ve been heavyweight champion of the world and dominated the division. It just didn’t turn out that way. I’m not sure why he didn’t get in shape and stay healthy. I guess some guys with that kind of talent just take it for granted.” 

Despite racking up an impressive career record of 83 fights, 72 wins (44 by KO) James Toney is taking a highly publicized change of direction. On the 28th August Toney is moving to the UFC mixed martial arts cage fighting world, taking on the  former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion Randy Couture. Most fans and journalists alike do not buy Toney line of wanting to redeem boxing by knocking out Couture, many feel he has little other options left in boxing and frankly that he will have no chance in the octagon ring against a career mixed martial artist. Toney believes he can walk in and knock Couture out, he certainly does have a punchers change and appears in the footage below to be training to some degree.

It is hard to say whether it will be another dark night for boxing when Toney meets Couture later this month or whether Toney will deliver on his promise and simply walk in and punch his way back into the headlines and major boxing heavyweight title contention. One thing is certain though – while James Toney is still fighting there will be many a salacious quote to be found. As Toney said of himself recently “I’m about trouble. That’s why they call me JT. ‘Just trouble’. Don’t get mad because God gave me the gift to be a great fighter, period”.

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2 responses to “Lights out – the James Toney story

  1. Most of the MMA world is not too keen on this fight. If Toney pulls out an unlikely win they imagine that it will make MMA fighters look a bit foolish. If Couture wins boxing fans will simply dismiss it due to the fact that the best of Toney’s career is long over.

    In any case I am just hoping that Couture takes it to the ground and ends it quick. If he decides that his 47 year old boxing skills are a match for Toney it might be an unfortunate end for ‘The Natural’.

    • Interesting stuff, think Toney hasnt got a snow ball in hells chance of winning – but that punch power in those tiny UFC mits has to be taken into consideration…if he has KO power in 14 ounce boxing gloves then that is worrying to think what he could do given a lucky shot. Chances are he’s going to take a beating like you say if it goes to the floor. Not sure if I buy any of the PR line that Toney has been in MMA training for 9 months…certainly doesnt look that way in the video.

      Good to hear from you Candyman!

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