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.
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”.