End of a legend
James Toney is a boxing legend but he is well past his best, says Wayne McCullough.
Last Updated: 10/04/12 9:47am
I think most boxing fans ask the same question when they hear James Toney is still fighting - why?
He is a legend of the sport, was once one of the top pound-for-pound fighters around and he made a lot of money. But does he still have it?
He won three division championships and drew with Hasim Rahman for his fourth in March 2006. He lost the interim WBA cruiserweight belt to Denis Lebedev in Russia last November by a total shut out in every round.
Toney had some of the best skills and defensive moves of any fighter in any generation but most of this is gone. He is getting hit easily and, at 43 years old, he is truly not the same fighter he was back when he was campaigning at middleweight which, in my opinion, was his best weight class.
He won the IBF middleweight belt against Michael Nunn in May 1991 and defended it six times; including a draw to Mike McCallum, before moving up and defeating Iran Barkley in February 1993 for the IBF super middleweight title. He made three defences of that belt before suffering his first loss to Roy Jones Jr in November 1994.
After the Jones fight Toney moved up to light heavyweight where he did not win a major title, then on up to cruiser where dethroned Vassiliy Jirov in a great fight in April 2003 to claim the IBF belt.
A lot of big names have faced Toney and a lot of them have lost.
Now almost 23 years since his pro debut in October 1989, Toney fought Canadian Bobby Gunn, who had been knocked out by Enzo Maccarinelli in April 2007. Gunn's last fight was a loss for the IBF cruiserweight belt when the bout was stopped after the fourth round in a fight with Tomasz Adamek in July 2009.
Gunn had a record of 21-4-1 with 18 knock outs compared to Toney who had a 73-7-3 with 44 knock outs record. Toney had more ko's than Gunn had fights.
This fight was a spectacle for Toney and he probably didn't earn much money. He got a good payday when he talked Dana White into letting him fight in the UFC, saying it would be easy for him. He got his shot in 2010 when he faced Randy Couture who was at the end of his career. Toney was taken down in 15 seconds and submitted shortly after that - it was an embarrassment.
The Gunn fight proved nothing if Toney won. Gunn was 38-years-old and had never fought at Toney's level.
Toney weighed in over 48lbs heavier than his last fight and the second heaviest of his career. Gunn also weighed the heaviest of his career at 210lbs.
Toney was trying to be his usual defensive self, hiding behind his left shoulder and picking shots to his opponent's body and head. As I suspected, Gunn had nothing in reply. Toney's skills have been long gone but Gunn didn't have anything to start with.
Toney was winning the fight easily as there was nothing coming back at him. Sometimes he got hit but it was a mismatch from the get-go.
Even though Toney will never be the fighter he was, he still had more than Gunn. He was awarded the victory after five rounds when Gunn's corner pulled him out claiming he had a broken hand .
Older, heavier and half the talent he was in his heyday, Toney has nothing left to prove in boxing. Unfortunately he will probably fight again because he got the win so he will be on the lookout for a big name fighter for another big payday.