Exclusive Interview With James Toney - "I’d Like To Prove A Point With MMA And Then Get Back To Unifying The Heavyweight Division”
by James Slater - All-time great James “Lights Out” Toney has had his name in the news recently. With suggestions made that he could either fight Antonio Tarver at heavyweight or perhaps even embark on a MMA adventure, the 41-year-old legend has been weighing up his options.
Article posted on 19.01.2010
Still intent on wining all the major belts at heavyweight, the former middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight world champion has lost none of his competitive edge or desire. “Lights Out” has not lost any of his sharpness or ability at coming out with some epic one-liners either. Very kindly granting me the following interview earlier today, James was in great form. Here are the future Hall of Famer’s answers to my questions:
James Slater: It's an absolute pleasure to speak with you, Champ. The fans want to know what's next for you. We hear it may be Antonio Tarver at heavyweight - what's the latest on that, Lights Out?
James Toney: That opportunity was offered to me, he called me out and I reached out to fight him. But then, all of a sudden, he says he wants a tune-up fight with Danny Green. But if Green KO's him like he did Roy Jones Junior, that's it, you know? I'm definitely interested in the fight [with Tarver] but I can't sit back and wait for him to get KO'd, you know what I'm saying? So I'm working with [Dan] Goossen - we’re still working well together - and we're looking at another show instead. I want to fight [Bernard] Hopkins and Roy Jones, but they're still gonna be fighting each other! What's that all about? After he [Jones] got KO'd by Danny Green!
J.S: You don't think any fans will be interested in Jones-Hopkins II?
J.T: No, not really. There's nothing there. They're both good fighters, but they're not legends like myself. There'd be a lot more interest if I was fighting Hopkins or Jones, but as you know, they're both scared of me. You can't put their name up there with mine; it's no contest - everyone knows my name more than theirs - I'll always come out on top in that department. You know why? Because no-one's done what I've done - I've kicked ass from 160 up to heavyweight! The only guy who has come close to what I've done in the past twenty years or so is Manny Pacquiao.
J.S: You rate Manny Pacquiao then? You respect him?
J.T: Oh, yeah, Manny's a great guy.
J.S: We've also heard that you may be going into MMA, and you've been talking to Dana White? Any news on that, James?
J.T: Well, what happened was, Dana White ticked me off - saying MMA were better than boxers. I took exception to that! I'm a boxing guy, I'm old-school, and I want to prove a point. It would only be one fight - against one of their top guys if they want; maybe Randy Couture. I'd beat one of those guys and then get back to unifying the heavyweight division. It would be a one-fight thing, just to prove a point to all those MMA guys. Just because Dana White spoke with Roy Jones and he wouldn't fight; don't think that I won't.
J.S: We boxing fans don't want to lose you, James...
J.T: (jumping in) Oh, no, it would just be a one-fight thing, to prove a point.
J.S: Who would you most like to fight at heavyweight for a title - the Klitschkos or David Haye?
J.T: Right now, I want to fight whoever won't back down. I'm motivated and focused right now - I'm in the gym every day, twice a day. I've heard all the talk about James Toney not being in shape, but these people don't know me at all. Not now. A fight with [David] Haye would be something I'd love - I'd show him real quickly what's what. The same goes for the Klitschko sisters. A fight with either of the two sisters would be a dream. The thing is, I'm not an ass kisser! I won't beg to get a title fight. This is what's ruining the sport, though - if these guys had been around in the 70's or 80s we'd see a helluva fight. But now, it's all money and these guys pick and choose and duck the top threats like me. Guys like Haye and the sisters are scared of me.
J.S: It's great to speak with you, James. I've got to say, I'm a big fan!
J.T: I'm a real dude. I ain't no fake; I'll talk to my fans and the writers any time. Call me!
J.S: I appreciate it, Champ. Can I ask you, of all the weight classes you've fought in at top level - 160, 168, 175, 200 and heavyweight - which weight class suited you best?
J.T: All of 'em! But I would say, I should've been a heavyweight all along. But the people I was around told me I was too small and I listened to 'em. But at the same time, I always told people I'd be the heavyweight champion of the world. They just laughed at me. But I've proved myself at every weight I've fought at.
J.S: There's no doubt about that. But the fans have missed you since your September 2009 KO of Matthew Greer. Is there any timeframe for when you'll be back in the ring - either MMA or boxing?
J.T: I appreciate that. For boxing, either late February or early March. For MMA, they told me June against a big name - but we'll see. But let me tell you, I'm so focused and ready, when I go, someone will get hurt!
J.S: I Know you are still burning and ready to do more, but you've already achieved so much. When you do retire, as an obvious Hall of Famer, where do you think you'll be placed in history?
J.T: Oh, man - they'll have to put me in a separate room from everybody else! Don't get me wrong, I admire and respect old-school guys like Ray Robinson, Jersey Joe Walcott, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns - but I'd have to have my own place. No-one's done what I'd done; what I've contributed to boxing.
J.S: It's hard to disagree with you, James. But it's interesting, as you've brought up Tommy Hearns' name. He's another one of my real boxing heroes. As I got into boxing, I read how you and Tommy had huge respect for one another and how you were and are friends. How would a fight between you two have gone, at, say 168 or 175?
J.T: (laughs) I'd have knocked him out! I'd have been too strong for him. I have much love and respect for Tommy, but whenever I see him, I say, "I'd have knocked you out!" He says, "whatever, I'd have knocked you out!" Put it this way, it would have been a great fight! I have so much respect for Tommy and let me tell you, if he'd have fought Roy Jones at middleweight, he'd have knocked him out!
J.S: Thanks for the interview, James. You and Tommy are two of my genuine boxing heroes. For my last question: I know you've done some acting before in movies, but if they ever make a movie of your life, as they surely could, who would play you?
J.T: Oh, wow, I don’t even know; there are so many great actors around. But I tell you, let’s make the movie happen! But I’ve got lots more to do before it’s finished!
J.S: Thank you James, it’s been a pleasure.
J.T: You’re welcome.
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