If ever there was a faded fighter who belonged in retirement more than he belonged in the ring, it is 47-year-old heavyweight James Toney, whom many viewed as the pound-for-pound king in the early 1990s. That was a long, long time ago and several weight classes.
Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight world champion, has been taking punches for 27 years professionally. He has boxed an astronomical 682 rounds, probably sparred more than 10,000 in the gym and twice tested positive for steroids, one of which cost him a heavyweight title.
The considerable wear and tear has clearly taken its toll on Toney. Listen to any recent interview with him on YouTube (and there are many) and juxtapose them with interviews he did in the 1990s. His speech is terribly slurred to the point where it is difficult to understand him or for him to complete a sentence. It is painfully obvious there is a problem, and one does not need to be a doctor or read the result of a medical test to realize it.
But Toney (76-10-3, 46 KOs), who has been mired in financial difficulties for years, continues to fight (even though he now makes a tiny fraction compared to the millions he once earned). Amazingly, there are commissions that still will license him when the reality is he was finished as a serious fighter following the brutal beating he took from Samuel Peter in their 2007 rematch.
In 2011, he took an even more savage beating in a cruiserweight world title fight against Denis Lebedev in Russia that was as bad as anything I have ever seen. To his credit, and likely his long-term detriment, Toney has perhaps the greatest chin in boxing history. He takes a punch like no other and has never been stopped.
So he plans to keep taking punches and damage, probably as long as a commission will shamefully allow it and as long as a promoter is willing to shovel him in the ring for an almighty dollar.
A few days ago, Toney, who has lost two fights in a row, three of his past five and four of his past seven beginning with the shellacking by Lebedev, announced on social media that he had his next fight lined up.
Coming off a one-sided, 10-round decision to 40-year-old club fighter Charles Ellis in August in a St. Louis hotel ballroom, Toney said he would face Eric Martel Bahoeli (11-5, 7 KOs) on Nov. 13 in Ottawa, Canada.
Toney finished his announcement with, “I hope to see u all there!”