Toney-Rahman Tonight: At Age 40, Can A Fit And Focused James Toney Grab A Heavyweight Belt?
by James Slater: We will know in a few hours, whether or not the surprisingly light 226 pounds James Toney has weighed-in at for his fight with Hasim Rahman is as good as it looks. For although "Lights Out" has somehow got himself down to his lightest weight since his TKO over Evander Holyfield back in 2003, this does not necessarily mean Toney will box a good fight.
Article posted on 16.07.2008
Remember, for his last fight - the awful showing he put on against Danny Batchelder last May - Toney weighed-in at 229 pounds. But against trial-horse Batchelder, Toney looked anything but impressive.
Toney claims he has rededicated himself to training and that his low weight for the rematch with Rahman proves it.. But even at his lowest weight in almost five years, Toney will not be able to escape the ravages of time. Turning 40-years-of-age next month (August 24th), the former middleweight/super-middleweight and cruiserweight champion has had a long and hard career. Can one intense training camp really see to it that a man with eighty fights on his body is able to recapture what he once had?
James may have dieted the right way, he may have thrown himself back into roadwork in a major way and he may have worked his ass of in the gym - but the fact is he is a fighter who appeared to have diminished skills in his last two fights. Toney's second fight with Samuel Peter in particular led us to accept that "Lights Out" was a badly faded talent. Now, simply because he has done what he always should have done and come in at a respectable poundage (and let's not get too carried away here; after all 226 isn't THAT light for a guy who only stands 5'10") we are expected to think Toney will box like he did in the old days?
It's great that he's serious for what is surely his last chance at getting a big fight at heavyweight (or at any weight, seeing as Toney will never drop down to cruiserweight - the weight division he never really should have boxed above). But it's hard not to think time ran out on James Toney a while back. But even if he beats "The Rock," will it prove all that much? Don't get me wrong, Rahman is a dangerous fighter who has also trained his hardest for tonight's fight in California (the 35-year-old tipped in at 244). But he too, has looked close to a finished fighter in a couple of his more recent bouts.
The winner of tonight's fight has been promised a title shot. For what it's worth, I feel that winner will be Toney - on points. But even if he does win tonight, will he really have earned a title shot? Who would give the 40-year-old any sort of a chance with either Wladimir Klitschko!, Sam Peter (in a third fight) or the eventual winner of the current Nikolay Valuev/John Ruiz/Ruslan Chagaev saga? The odds don't favour Toney becoming champ, do they?
James' best bet, assuming he does get past Rahman, would be to cross his fingers and hope John Ruiz can reclaim the WBA strap. A win over "The Quiet Man" is the only possible way I can see Toney grabbing a major belt at heavyweight. Indeed, if he hadn't taken any illegal substances back in April of 2005 he would already have done so in his first fight with Ruiz.
To answer the question posed in the title of this article; it's possible, but rather doubtful.
Anyway, let's see how Rahman-Toney II unfolds first.
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