Peter-Toney II - Did “Lights Out” Leave His Fight In The Gym?

Peter/Toney07.01.07 - By James Slater, photo by Tom Casino/Showtime - In one of my final articles of last year I did a piece on predictions. The first of these predictions declared how I felt James Toney would be KO’d, for the first time in his long career, in his rematch with Samuel Peter. OK, so I was only half right. Still, make no mistake, last night saw James take the worst beating of his nearly twenty-tear boxing career. My question, however, is was the fight a classic case of a guy leaving his fight well and truly in the gym? Let’s face it, there had to be SOMETHING wrong with Toney for him to have been handled so easily. And I think the training regime he underwent, the toughest discipline he has shown for many years, may well have been the reason for his one-sided loss. To have pushed his body so hard at his current age was simply too much.

As a result he was left weakened and vulnerable to Peter’s attacks. Sure, I could be totally wrong and it may simply have been his age and nothing more that led to his points defeat. After all, James is thirty-eight and after such a long career it really should come as no surprise if the number of candles blown out on birthday cakes has taken its toll on “Lights Out.”

The shockingly one-sided return match and its result sure weren’t due to Sam Peter’s vast improvement. Yes, he too trained much harder than for the first fight, dropping a fair number of pounds on the way. But that alone would not account for the seemingly effortless way in which he thoroughly trounced Toney. Peter wasn’t THAT MUCH better. No, James was weakened thanks to his gruelling preparations and he was unable to “suck it up” in there. This is to take nothing from “The Nigerian Nightmare,” though.

He is clearly the most deserving challenger for any of the four reigning champions now. But to have dominated Toney in such a huge way? Blame must go to the hiring of Billy Blanks, at least in my opinion. Much as Muhammad Ali did, in the penultimate fight of his career, Toney made the mistake of going about his pre-fight preparations the wrong way - concerned more with weight loss than anything else. Although, ironically, James actually weighed in at a pound more than in the first Peter fight. Still, he had emptied himself inside.

All this is irrelevant, however. For no matter why the vast number of debilitating punches landed on J.T, they did land. And debilitating punches, well, they debilitate. Quite simply, James must retire immediately. Easier to hit than ever before in his distinguished fighting life ( last night marked only the third time he has tasted the canvas. Not since Roy Jones sent, an admittedly off-balance, James Toney south has he hit the mat) and subject, like all ageing fighters, to the consequences, time is surely up for “Lights Out.” The last thing we want is for him to become a trial horse, thrown in with up and comers trying to make names for themselves. James is a smart guy and money surely cannot be a major worry for him. Retirement is the smartest option for him then, definitely.

If he does quit the sport now, he will leave with the statistic, of him never once being KO’d, intact. And this despite having mixed it with a number of power-punchers - and all the way from 160 to heavyweight at that. One thing’s for sure, his best chance at capturing a version of the heavyweight championship has been and gone. On that occasion, against WBA champ, John Ruiz (oh, how happy will “The Quiet Man” be at last night’s result, still smarting as he is at the way he was utterly schooled by James a couple of years back. Only, he says, because of the illegal substances Toney had in his system - knowing all too well that such a thought is a complete crock.

Hell, even the James Toney of today would still have too much for John Ruiz, of that I am certain) Toney looked to have achieved his dream. To carry on now, stubbornly still believing he can become a champ amongst the big men, would be sad and foolish.

Let’s hope Toney, a good guy and a great fighter in history, chooses his wisest option and hangs ’em up while he’s still (relatively speaking) on top. Whatever he does though, I say good luck to him. For a former middleweight he sure did prove that he was more than capable of hanging with the big guys.

Article posted on 08.01.2007

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