Here’s what I got from Saturday’s heavyweight tiff on HBO between James Toney and Hasim Rahman. Before the fight I sit through pre-fight ramble having to hear commentators like Dan Rafael say things like he doesn’t consider Lamon Brewster a legit heavyweight champ… Jim Lampley calling Toney a fat tub of goo… etc. and so on. I mean, come on, the whole cast should know better. Fat jokes abounded that night and I don’t think anyone would pay to see any one of those commentators in their boxers either. Maybe they are personally offended by the fact that Toney doesn’t come into the ring shredded, but surely there is a better way than insults to express your displeasure… Ultimately, if James can’t fight at heavyweight, a heavyweight is going to let him know about it. No amount of name calling is gonna serve the purpose… So I’ve weighed in on that… now for the fight.

My view of the competitors is this – James Toney knows how to fight… there isn’t a boxer in the world who’ll say he can’t. I think he is successful at heavyweight because he developed his style and skill fighting middleweights. Not many heavyweights learn the SKILLS of boxing these days and that is why the division isn’t looked upon as it once was. That is why Byrd can get in the ring with any heavyweight and continue to win. Skills. Having said that, Toney DOES short himself in the conditioning department.

Rahman is a hardworking fighter. Period. Very much a blue-collar type worker and should NEVER be shorted. Saw him against Corey Sanders when I didn’t know much of either and that fight alone spoke volumes on his character and ability.

I have been looking forward to this fight since it has been made. Neither fighter takes a backwards step and there is much to gain with a win. If fighting is now considered “entertainment” this should have a lot of good drama.

Emmanuel Steward…
“Rahman has the advantage in weight, age, height, arm length, etc.” Ok, we’re going to stop perpetuating a myth right now. There is no reach advantage, there is no height advantage, in boxing. There would be height advantage in a jump-off between Spud Webb and Shaquille O’Neal. But that’s the beautiful thing about boxing… ring the bell and everyone is on a level playing field. I don’t even know where to start on the reach advantage thing… If a man who has short arms has fought long-armed guys his whole career, and the long-armed fighter is fighting a shorter-armed fighter for the first time, who then has the advantage? It’s all about what you do with the ability you have. Did you fight your fight? That is it. Will the battle be fought on your grounds and terms?

They talk of Toney’s win over Ruiz and how it was tainted with the alleged steroid use… I am not weighing in one way or the other. The question that does come to my mind suddenly is: “Why they test athletes for steroids AFTER the performance?”

Going into this fight, I think the way to beat James Toney is to fight him as a lighter weight fighter would. Toney is like Duran, should he get hit, he is going to get hit with a straight punching quick fighter, like Hearns… and he will generally CLOBBER roundhouse punchers, like Barkley, Cuevas, etc.

Toney stepped into the ring and looks how you knew he would look. Rahman looks thick and in shape.

The ring clears… my heart rate slightly accelerates… I dig the fact that I still do that when a fight is about to go down.

I like the green shirt on the ref.

Round 1
Rahman fighting in combo… definitely a good sign that he isn’t looking for the big shot and is in shape to go some rounds. First round to Rahman… good jab… few nice rights… fought in combination.

Round 2
Really tight round to call. One of those emotional decisions… Toney showed where he can win the fight though… when the fight is really in tight. Toney round.

Round 3
Toney like a heavyweight Roberto Duran. Gave the round to Toney… based on his countering. Emmanuel says Toney’s punches don’t have effect, but if a man’s head is snapping and his body is quaking when getting hit, like Rahman’s was, I would say that is pretty effective punching. Toney’s round.

Round 4
Rahman’s round… but more because Toney took the round off. If you score for defense, you might look at Toney. Threw a few good body shots. No sense of urgency in Toney.

Round 5
Uneventful round, but Rahman’s round nonetheless… Rahman cut and he complained to the ref after the headbutt.

Round 6
Rahman was busier. Gave him the round… James going to have to “step on it.”

Round 7
Toney pressing the fight forward. Toney wins the round with sharp uppercuts. He is more effective going towards Rahman.

Round 8
Toney hurt Rahman with 20 seconds left in the round. Stiffened his legs… but Rahman did too much work early. Rahman’s round

Round 9
Gave the round to Toney, even though Rahman showed good conditioning and is fighting UNLIKE a current day heavyweight.

Round 10
Hard round to call… again, I also score for defense, so seeing it that way, the fact that Toney was better there. You might give it to him.

Round 11
Gave the round to Toney… effective counterpunching.

Round 12
Rahman was busier, won the round

Judges decision… Majority draw.

Well, the fight is done and as with every fight ruled a draw, somehow you feel incomplete. In fact, the fight, because it never seemed to shift gears, almost seemed like a great sparring session. There was a lack of desperation in Toney’s game and that worked against his amazing skills even more than him not being at a good fight weight. He just doesn’t seem to posses that second or third gear anymore, like the one Sugar Ray displayed against Hearns in the first fight. The question with James wasn’t whether he could handle heavyweights, it was whether he can handle himself, because he obviously has the talent to be successful in the division, should he want it… On the other hand, Rahman displayed poise and “sticktuitiveness,” At times he got off path but, hey, I can forgive him that, he’s got the nature of a fighter… his conditioning was the main thing that allowed him to win this fight. He didn’t leave his destiny in Toney’s hands. Against Toney, guys get tired and sloppy and start swinging in desperation. Rahman kept it together behind a stiff jab. And he deserves props for doing what most heavyweights haven’t been able to do.

Ultimately, an excellent fight. Entertaining. Kept you involved… interested… just what the heavyweights need!

Question: how do the commentators consider Klitschko a top heavyweight and the man who knocked him out, Lamon Brewster, not?