James Toney Looks Like He Belongs

BY Rick Folstad ON September 24, 2004
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If you haven't already done it, you should welcome James "Lights Out" Toney into the heavyweight ranks. He arrived there last October when he stopped Evander Holyfield in nine, but he didn't really settle into the division until Thursday night when he looked comfortable slipping and moving while carrying 227 pounds.

Fighting Rydell Booker at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, Toney looked like a guy who might be pretty comfortable moving among the heavyweights, almost like he was destined to someday wear double-X trunks and shop in the big and tall men's store.

Toney - who will never see 200 pounds again - looked almost fit against Booker, cut in the way a defensive lineman might be cut. He went 12 busy rounds in his lopsided win, and if anything, Booker looked like the guy who was sneaking in late night snacks behind everyone's back.

While Toney worked and dominated, Booker, who came in at a soft 220, wobbled and scrambled, a slight bulge bouncing and jiggling just above the waistband of his trunks. He didn't look like a fighter. He looked like someone they might have recruited at the last minute.

"Hey, put the donuts down guys. We have a serious problem. Booker can't make it. Any of you Pechanga security guards want to fight James Toney tonight? It's an hour's work at the max, and there's real good money in it if you survive."

Booker was undefeated going into the fight, and you wonder who it was he beat. He was game against Toney, but badly out-gunned. And according to Toney, he beat him up with only one good arm.

"I hurt my arm in the first round throwing a jab-hook," Toney said after the mugging. "I was too excited. I wanted to KO him. If I had use of my left arm, I would have gotten him out of there."

Probably.

Toney didn't KO Booker, but he did a serious number on his nose.

Not that Toney cares. These two aren't best pals. At the weigh-in earlier in the week, Toney reportedly gave Booker a little slap, saying he did it because Booker disrespected him.

Good thing Booker didn't kick Toney's dog.

"I give myself a C-minus," Toney said after all the test scores were in.

He might need a straight-A in his next fight.

IBF champion Chris Byrd was at the fight and was a guest commentator on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, which showed the fight.

"I'd love to fight him," Byrd said. "Tell him to sign the contract."

Spoken from the comfort of the commentator's chair.

Still, Byrd is one of those guys Toney will probably have to face if he hopes to someday own all the belts. And that's what this is about, heavyweight title belts and who gets to carry them out of the ring draped over their shoulders.

Toney thinks it's his turn.

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