Los Angeles, CA (June 12, 2008) – In a classic crossroads battle of two former champions trying to sustain their careers for one last shot at another title, James “Lights Out” Toney and Hasim “The Rock” Rahman will hook up in their long-awaited rematch on Wednesday night, July 16.
The scheduled 12-round NABO Heavyweight Championship Bout — presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions, Don King Productions and in association with Top Rank, Inc. – will headline an FSN “Best Damn Fight Night” telecast (11 pm EST Live/8 pm PST) from Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA.
Toney (70-6-3, 43 KO) felt certain that he had taken the WBC World Heavyweight title from Rahman (45-6-3, 36 KO) when they collided in Atlantic City back in March 2006. However, the former world titleholder in the middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions came up just short with the judges scoring the bout a draw.
Because Rahman honored a mandatory defense commitment against top WBC contender Oleg Maskaev – which he lost via TKO in the 12th round five months after narrowly escaping Toney – a rematch never materialized for Toney. That will change on July 16, albeit with no world title at stake – only a title shot for the winner and a ride into the sunset for the loser.
“I agree wholeheartedly that the loser of this fight should retire,” said Rahman, a Baltimore native, who has fought four times since being dethroned in August, 2006. In those bouts he has come away with a decision win and three straight TKOs – most recently against veteran Zuri Lawrence back in November to capture the NABF Heavyweight crown.
“I can’t see Toney staying with me for 12 rounds with what I’m gonna bring this time,” Rahman continued. “I’m not only gonna be the guy who is going to retire James Toney, I’m gonna be the first guy to knock him out as well.”
Following his disappointing draw against Rahman, the ever-determined Toney regrouped and – in a WBC Heavyweight Championship Elimination Bout — put on a tremendous performance against Nigerian powerhouse Samuel Peter in front of a packed house in LA’s Staples Center in September, 2006. Once again, however, the Ann Arbor, MI native now living in Calabasas, CA, was deprived of a victory – in the eyes of boxing fans and media alike – as Peter was awarded a highly controversial split-decision victory.
Because of the fan and media uproar, the WBC mandated an immediate Toney-Peter rematch, which took place in Florida four months later. This time, however, there was little dispute in the outcome, as Peter was awarded a unanimous decision.
Disappointed, Toney came back less than five months later and earned a split-decision win over Danny Batchelder in a fight that he seemed to have lost interest in before the first bell.
And now after what will be nearly a 14-month absence from the ring, the 39-year old Toney and the 35-year old Rahman, will finally meet again with the winner earning their “Last Chance” opportunity for another world championship with the loser going home.
“If he says he’s going to knock me out, God bless him,” Toney said in responding to Rahman’s prediction. “The last time we fought he had his track shoes on for 12 rounds. This time I am coming in shape. People will doubt what I just said, and probably for good reason, so I’ll let them see for themselves. I’ve learned my lessons, although probably later than I should have, but I can tell you I’m ready to prove it. I won’t leave it to the judges this time. I’m going to do everything to knock HIM out.”
“This is a very important crossroads fight for both Hasim Rahman and James Toney. The winner will re-emerge as a contender for the world heavyweight championship,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank, who promotes Rahman.
“Toney’s Hall of Fame career is on the line against a 2-time Heavyweight World Champion — the man that KO’d Lennox Lewis to win the title — in a do or die bout for both men,” Dan Goossen, Toney’s promoter exclaimed. “It’s one of the few times in sports where winning isn’t good enough. The winner has to be impressive.”
Ticket information and undercard participants will be announced shortly.