With WBC #1 ranked pretender ‘Baby’ Joe Mesi in heavyweight limbo due to concerns about concussions suffered in the ring, the WBC was forced to go hunting for a box-off to fill the number one bill. James Toney was a given based on the fact he had one heavyweight bout under his hefty belt. What they blew out to sell to us as a worthy opponent was a Booker. Rydell Booker to be exact.
Since when does one heavyweight fight take you straight to the top of governing body? Well, ever since these ‘governing bodies’ existed I guess. That seems to be how James Toney landed his number one spot. Toney defeated the aged Evander Holyfield way back in October of last year as Holyfield looked battle-beaten and old.
Prior to that bout Toney had fought just once at the heavyweight level, when he ate himself into a 226-pound ball and rolled over the now 15-44-8 Wesley Martin. So, off a victory over Holyfield and injuring himself out of facing 6’5” contender Jameel McCline, Toney finds himself one win away from being first in line to WBC Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko’s throne. Bring on ‘Rock n Rye,’ as Booker is known.
Rydell Booker fits the role well for James Toney, but not in a heavyweight eliminator. The problem with that scenario is that Booker, like Toney, is also a natural Cruiserweight and had only tipped the scales over 200 pounds in his past two fights. Prior to those bouts Booker had campaigned as a Cruiserweight since turning pro back in 2001.Trial horse Ken Murphy was his first victim, followed by a win over someone named Tipton Walker.
As the WBC #4 ranked Cruiserweight, Booker now finds himself on the verge of a heavyweight eliminator for the right to meet the good Dr. Klitschko. So where did he come from and what happened to all the other fighters ranked in the top ten by the WBC?
Booker will bring an undefeated 22-0-0 record with 12 knockouts into the ring as he challenges ‘Lights Out’ Toney. At just 23 years of age and 6’3”, Booker may still be growing into a heavyweight frame and one day may be a fine one. One day.
The WBC Heavyweight rankings behind Vitali Klitschko are a mixed bag of Juan Carlos Gomez, Hasim Rahman, Monte Barrett and Jameel McCline, to go with Toney and Mesi. Surely any of those fighters are more deserving of a shot than Booker. Rahman has reeled off four straight wins in 2004, Barrett gave Mesi all he could handle and then defeated hotshot Dominick Guinn. Surely one of them, any of them, would be more deserving of a showcase showdown than Rydell Booker. Likely even more deserving than James Toney.
Whatever the brains behind the WBC have planned one thing seems certain – if they have things their way Vitali Klitschko will be wearing their championship belt for a long time. Feeding untested cruiserweights into heavyweight title eliminators seems to be a safe way to ensure that.