AROUND THE RING
Toney's tone of voice
Toney (left) battled Rahman to a draw on March 18. (Tom Briglia/WireImage.com)
James Toney, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Thursday, isn't in a celebrating mood these days. The wily old veteran is as cantankerous as ever.
Toney has rarely showed opponents much respect before fights, and he's not about to change his tune with Samuel Peter, whom Toney meets in a title-elimination fight dubbed "No Risk, No Reward" on Sept. 2 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The winner will become the mandatory challenger for Oleg Maskaev, who won a world title via a 12th-round TKO of Hasim Rahman on Aug. 12.
Toney (69-4-3, 43 KOs) and Peter (26-1, 22 KOs) mixed it up verbally on a recent conference call with the media to promote the fight. If the vicious, curse-filled exchanges were a prelude to the fight, it should be a dandy.
During another media session following a workout at trainer Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., Toney also let loose on Peter.
"Why does that [expletive] Peter talk [expletive] about his power and think that he can ignore mine?" Toney shouted. "I got 43 [expletive] knockouts in 69 wins, and that big [double expletive] will be No. 44. What the [expletive] will he say then, lying flat on his back?
"Every [expletive] guy I fight is bigger and stronger than me -- supposedly. Peter is no different. Look at Rahman and what I did to his face. He didn't knock me down. He didn't faze me. Nobody knocks James 'Lights Out' Toney down. If Peter thinks he is going to knock me [expletive] out, he has another [expletive] thing coming. I'll punish him more than he can ever believe could ever happen to him. I'll beat my respect out of him.
"I don't [expletive] cry over what these so-called big and strong guys say about me," Toney continued. "I feed off of it. You tell Peter to bring what he's got and I'll bring it even more. I'll knock his [expletive] ass out, and when they send him back to Africa on a boat he'll still be sleeping. He'll have a [expletive] 'Lights Out' nightmare in the ring and relive it while he's asleep at sea.
"All I know is that Samuel Peter is going back to Africa a loser, and I will look forward to banging [expletive] Russians around."
Besides his irritation with Peter, Toney is also pretty fed up with the media questioning his weight and conditioning.
Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion, has had a number of heavyweight bouts where his conditioning was questionable, none more than a March title fight against Rahman.
Toney came into the fight a career-high 237 pounds and lumbered to a draw that few thought he deserved. He claimed later that he went into the fight with the flu.
When asked about his weight, Toney responded in typical Toney fashion: "I am a [expletive] heavyweight. No one questioned [Muhammad] Ali and [George] Foreman, so don't question me."
How is your conditioning?
Toney: "[Expletive] off!"
What about your cigar smoking?
Toney: "Yeah? What about it? Smoke this."
Who are you sparring with and how is it going?
Toney: "Keep asking stupid questions, it'll be you. Now [expletive] off!"
OK, James, and happy (expletive) birthday.
Heavyweight contender Shannon Briggs has grown tired of waiting for titlist Wladimir Klitschko to make up his mind about fighting him or continuing to pursue a rematch with newly crowned beltholder Oleg Maskaev.
Briggs and Klitschko have had an agreement for a Nov. 11 fight for months, but the deal hasn't been signed because Klitschko adviser Shelly Finkel was waiting for the outcome of Maskaev's fight with Hasim Rahman. Now that Maskaev has won, Finkel has been pursuing a match with Maskaev, leaving Briggs to twist in the wind.
So Briggs this week instead turned his attention to another fight. He has been involved in serious discussions with promoter Don King about facing titlist Sergei Liakhovich, a fight Showtime and King are talking about to fill the network's open Nov. 4 date.
Briggs' move has left the Klitschko camp scrambling. It responded by raising its offer to Briggs, and it has also made an offer to Calvin Brock, the undefeated 2000 U.S. Olympian whose recent résumé dwarfs Briggs'.
"They contacted me and we are working on it. We're in negotiations," Brock told ESPN.com.
Brock said they began talking Thursday. He recently became a free agent after several years with promoter Main Events, and although he is in Delaware this week to meet with promoter Artie Pelullo, Brock said Main Events is handling the Klitschko talks.
"I'm ready to become world champion," Brock said. "Hopefully, people know I want the shot. So far, negotiations are going pretty well. As long as it's a fair offer, I will take it and I will the fight."
Muhammad partners with Holyfield
Controversial promoter Murad Muhammad has kept a low profile since last summer, when he settled a lawsuit with junior lightweight star Manny Pacquiao by paying him $800,000 and granting him his release while the jury was deliberating the case.
Pacquiao had accused Muhammad of skimming millions of dollars from his purses. It was one of several questionable business dealings Muhammad has had during a career in which he has also promoted Roy Jones, Larry Holmes and Razor Ruddock, among others.
Muhammad surfaced last week in Dallas, where he sat ringside to watch former four-time heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield score a second-round TKO of journeyman Jeremy Bates, in his first fight in 21 months, to end a three-fight losing streak.
Now, Muhammad tells ESPN.com that he has signed Holyfield to a promotional deal in which he will partner with Holyfield's own Real Deal Events to promote future bouts.
Holyfield, who didn't return a call from ESPN.com, hired Texas boxing fixture Lester Bedford to run and market the Dallas show. Bedford did yeoman's work, generating Holyfield close to $1 million for the event and selling nearly 10,000 tickets to the fight. His reward was having Holyfield and attorney George Hudson dump him in favor of Muhammad, despite his shaky reputation.
Muhammad said he and Holyfield had been talking for a couple of months prior to the Dallas fight.
"We began negotiating and I offered him a wonderful deal. Evander, I believe, appreciated that," said Muhammad, who would not divulge details of the arrangement. "We had a deal way before he stepped between the ropes [in Dallas]. He appreciated that I believe in his ability. I believe, like he does, that he will become a five-time heavyweight champion of the world."
Muhammad said he is working on matching Holyfield with Sinan Samil Sam, a fringe Turkish contender based in Germany. Newly crowned heavyweight titlist Oleg Maskaev won a decision against Sam in a November elimination fight, which propelled him into the title fight with Hasim Rahman.
"People say Sam is too tough for Evander at this point, but that is what gets Evander up to fight, a threat," Muhammad said.
Muhammad said whomever Holyfield fights, it would be in November. He said he has spoken to Maskaev promoter Dennis Rappaport about making a Maskaev-Holyfield title bout, but that the timing wouldn't work for it to happen this year.
"Dennis knows how to make a deal, but that fight won't happen this year," Muhammad said. "Maybe early next year. We would be honored for Maskaev to fight Holyfield."
Gary Shaw, the promoter for lightweight champion Diego "Chico" Corrales, was incensed by what he believes is a weak punishment handed out by the Nevada Athletic Commission to Jose Luis Castillo on Thursday.
Castillo was fined the maximum $250,000 and suspended for the remainder of 2006 for failing to make the 135-pound limit for his June 3 rubber match with Corrales, the second fight in a row against Corrales that Castillo has missed weight. Ultimately, the fight was canceled. Corrales went through with their second fight in October 2005 despite the weight discrepancy and was knocked out in the fourth round of what became a non-title bout.
Shaw said the commission should have revoked Castillo's license, which would have meant Castillo wouldn't be eligible to apply for a license until at least June 2007. In addition, he would have had to go through a hearing in front of the commission before being granted a license.
"I think it's a travesty for Chico Corrales that they didn't invite him to come and testify," Shaw said. "Corrales should have been asked to speak and been able to talk about how the situation impacted him and his life, and what he went through in training while he suffered to make weight. There is no justice here."
Shaw was also disgusted by the fact that the commission complimented Castillo for rejecting the gruesome suggestion by one of his camp members that he withdraw some of his blood to help Castillo make weight.
"The fact that they complimented Castillo for making the decision not to have his blood drawn is a disgrace," Shaw said. "What they should have done is compliment Chico for making the weight honestly. Castillo couldn't even make it dishonestly."
Shaw said he has never believed that Castillo tried to sincerely make weight, as Castillo told the commission. He said Castillo promoter Bob Arum called him the day before the weigh in and told him he didn't think Castillo was going to make weight.
"They thought what happened last time would happen again -- that we would agree to a new weight and go through with the fight," Shaw said. "This whole thing is just so upsetting. I am not saying they should terminate Castillo's license forever because this was not [Mike] Tyson biting [Evander] Holyfield's ear. But they should have revoked his license and given him a more severe punishment. Make him work to get it back.
"Chico and the public were the two victims here. It's bad for boxing. What did they do? Where was the real punishment for what went on, especially after he embarrassed the commission the way he did?"
Baldomir ready for Mayweather
Welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir, dubbed the modern-day "Cinderella Man" by his Sycuan Ringside Promotions handlers, has no worries about yet again being an underdog when he defends against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Nov. 4 (HBO PPV) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
It's a position he has become used to.
He was a massive underdog against undisputed champion Zab Judah, whom he convincingly outpointed Jan. 8 in New York to win the crown. Baldomir was again an underdog in his first defense against Arturo Gatti, whom he stopped in the ninth round on July 22 in Atlantic City, N.J.
"In my career, I have boxed everyone in their hometown, with their fans, referees and judges," Baldomir said. "Judah's from New York. Gatti had the press conference for our fight right down the street from where he lives. Mayweather Jr. can go ahead and look past me. Nobody has ever expected me to win and that's fine. On Nov. 4, I will show once more why I own the belt."
Baldomir-Mayweather will formally be announced at a Sept. 6 new conference in New York followed by media tour stops Sept. 7 in Los Angeles and Sept. 8 in Las Vegas.
"When I get in the ring and fight, I am doing it for my family," Baldomir said. "Every punch I take is for my wife and kids so that they never have to have the life that I had growing up."
Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham came down with the flu this week, forcing him to withdraw from Saturday's defense against Edison Miranda of Colombia.
Miranda (26-0, 23 KOs) was already in Germany for the fight in Oldenburg and was training Monday when he learned that Abraham was pulling out of the mandatory bout.
It has been rescheduled for Sept. 23 in Watzlar, a town north of Frankfurt.
"I'm disappointed, but I will take my disappointment out on Abraham when he's well enough to step into the ring with me," Miranda said. "I know in my heart that he has cold feet, and I won't be denied of this world championship."
Of the fight being rescheduled, Miranda said, "The truth is, he will never be ready. But I give the guy some credit -- now he gets to enjoy the belt for another month before I steal it from him."
Leon Margules, the executive director of Miranda promoter Warriors Boxing, flew to Germany for the fight this week but was there for only one day before turning around and returning to Florida.
"This is just prolonging the inevitable," Margules said. "Edison was ready to go for this fight."
Margules didn't necessarily buy the announcement of Abraham's illness.
"It is strange for a fighter in great shape to catch cold in August," Margules said.
Abraham (21-0, 17 KOs), who has made two defenses of the vacant belt he won in December 2005 with a fifth-round knockout of Kingsley Ikeke, said he felt sick since last week.
"Obviously, that's not a great situation for me," Abraham said. "Since [last] Friday I have felt that there is an infection inside me. But I thought it wouldn't become that bad. But in the morning [Monday], I realized that I can't fight on Saturday."
According to Abraham promoter Sauerland Events, Abraham was diagnosed with influenza and sinusitis.
"Arthur suffers from symptoms everybody knows well," trainer Ulli Wegner said. "Temperature, cough, cold and hoarseness. He has to take medicine now. It won't be his death, but certainly he's not able to defend the title."
Unified super middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe of Wales returns to the ring, but not for the significant fight he hoped for.
After Calzaghe whitewashed Jeff Lacy in their March unification fight, a victory that propelled him into the pound-for-pound rankings, Calzaghe hoped to set up even higher-profile fights.
He had one in the offing, a July 8 match against Glen Johnson in what would have been Calzaghe's HBO debut. However, the brittle Calzaghe, who has been a world champion since 1997 and is the sport's longest-reigning title holder, had to withdraw because of a recurring hand injury.
Instead, he will return Oct. 14 without American TV coverage when he defends against Sakio Bika, an unheralded fighter from Cameroon, in Manchester, England.
Although Bika (20-1-2, 13 KOs) gave titlist Markus Beyer a strong challenge when they met in May in Germany, the bout ended as a fourth-round technical draw because Beyer suffered a serious cut caused by an accidental head butt.
Bika had agreed to be in Showtime's "ShoBox" super middleweight tournament, but he pulled out just a few days before his Aug. 5 opening-round fight, citing an elbow injury. A few weeks later, the Calzaghe bout was announced.
Calzaghe (41-0, 31 KOs) will be making his 19th defense, and a victory could result in a major fight. On the same night that Calzaghe defends against Bika, Beyer and Mikkel Kessler will meet in Copenhagen to unify the 168-pound division's other two belts.
If Calzaghe wins, he could meet the Beyer-Kessler winner in February.
"I have had a lot of frustration in my career [with injuries] but I plan on making up for it in October, and I have the great incentive of what may be a unification fight in February," Calzaghe said at a news conference announcing the Bika fight.
Also on the card: 39-year-old cruiserweight titlist Johnny Nelson (45-12-2, 29 KOs) of England finally faces 26-year-old Enzo Maccarinelli (24-1, 18 KOs), the interim titleholder from Wales. The fight has been put off while Nelson recovered from a knee injury, and Nelson has been talking about retiring after the fight.
'Friday Night Fights' finale
Super middleweight Allan Green (21-0, 15 KOs) will face Emmett Linton (33-4-2, 15 KOs) in Tulsa, Okla., in the Sept. 1 season finale of "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2).
Green, one of the rising contenders in the division, is coming off a five-round thrashing of former "Contender" participant Anthony Bonsante on July 21. Linton, a 35-year-old southpaw, figures to be outgunned. A junior middleweight for most of his career, he has fought only one round in the past 14 months. He lost a decision to Darrell Woods in June 2005 before an accidental head butt rendered his May bout with Robert Frazier a one-round no contest.
The undercard will feature a rematch between entertaining journeyman Emanuel Augustus (32-27-6, 17 KOs) and junior welterweight Courtney Burton (21-5, 11 KOs), who defeated Augustus in 2004 on ESPN2 in a highly controversial 10-round split decision.
Some have questioned whether Burton should even still be fighting. Although he is only 28, he has been brutally knocked out four times in his last five fights by Julio Diaz, Ebo Elder, Rolando Reyes and Juan Lazcano. The lone win during the stretch was the controversial nod over Augustus.
Malignaggi ready for return
Junior welterweight Paulie Malignaggi (21-1, 5 KOs) is ready to return to the ring after receiving medical clearance this week.
Malignaggi had surgery to repair the fractured right cheekbone he suffered during a valiant decision loss to titlist Miguel Cotto on June 10 at Madison Square Garden.
"I can start training right now and sparring in another month or so," Malignaggi said. "I'd already started running. This is what I've been waiting for. I'm antsy to get back in the gym and to fight again. I want to put my last fight behind me and hope to be fighting again by December so I can enjoy the holidays. I'll fight anybody out there, as long as they bring something to the table, financially and exposure-wise. They have to be first-rate."
Manager Sal LoNano plans to meet with promoter Lou DiBella to begin working on a comeback fight for the New York fighter.
"Paulie looks great and he's in good spirits," LoNano said. "His face has healed very well, and I'm meeting with Lou to discuss Paulie's immediate future. He will become world champion next year."
• Heavyweight titlist Oleg Maskaev, who stopped Hasim Rahman in the 12th round to win the belt on Aug. 12, is still considering a Nov. 11 unification bout with Wladimir Klitschko. However, the prospects dimmed this week with the revelation that Maskaev has a slight fracture in his right elbow. Promoter Dennis Rappaport said the diagnosis was made after Maskaev went for a CAT scan Wednesday in New York. "There is a problem with the elbow that is not overly serious," Rappaport said. "But there is a fracture, but it is not where he would need to wear a cast. The doctor told him he needs to rest it for a few weeks and not to lift anything heavy. Based on the preliminary findings, it could be three to six weeks of healing." Rappaport said they will have an elbow specialist look at the CAT scan for a second opinion. As for the possible Nov. 11 bout, Rappaport said, "It's still possible but I can't say that it is probable."
• Welterweight Joel "Love Child" Julio (27-1, 24 KOs) will try to shake off his first loss when he returns Oct. 27 (Telemundo) in Miami. Julio, the 2005 ESPN.com prospect of the year, lost a decision to Carlos Quintana in a June 24 title eliminator.
• Top Rank is working on the Nov. 18 Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales III HBO PPV undercard. Two of the possible fights being discussed for the show are junior flyweight title rematches. One would pit titleholder Omar Nino of Mexico in a return match with 2000 U.S. Olympian Brian Viloria, whom he easily outpointed to win a belt on Aug. 10. The other is a rematch between titlist Ulises "Archie" Solis of Mexico and mandatory Will Grigsby, from whom Solis won the title on a clear decision in January. Solis has defended his version of the 108-pound title twice (a win and a draw) and now owes Grigsby a rematch.
• Heavyweight titlist Nicolay Valuev, who turned 33 on Monday, has completed a high-altitude training camp in Armenia and is headed for the United States to kick off the promotional tour for his Oct. 7 defense in Rosemont, Ill., against New Yorker Monte Barrett. The tour will stop in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where Valuev will be accompanied by co-promoter Don King. Valuev will return to Germany Sept. 3 to complete his training in Berlin.
• It's official: Flyweight star Jorge Arce (44-3-1, 34 KOs) of Mexico is moving up to junior bantamweight and will face Masibulele "Hawk" Makepula (28-3, 18 KOs) of South Africa Sept. 23 in the main event of HBO's "Boxing After Dark" at the 6,500-seat Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. The winner of the title eliminator will become the mandatory challenger for champion Masamori Tokuyama of Japan. Welterweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (27-0-1, 21 KOs), the 20-year-old son of the legend, will make his HBO debut in the co-feature against an opponent to be named.
• Top Rank's third OLN-televised card will be Sept. 14 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Lightweight contender "Kid Diamond" Almazbek Raiymkulov (22-1-1, 13 KOs) headlines in a 10-rounder against Jairo Ramirez (20-2, 7 KOs). Middleweight brawler Jose Luis Zertuche (19-2-2, 14 KOs) faces fellow slugger Fulgencio Zuniga (17-2-1, 16 KOs) in the co-feature. Middleweight Andy Lee (4-0, 2 KOs), the Emanuel Steward-trained and managed 2004 Irish Olympian with huge potential, will also fight on the card against an opponent to be named.
• Popular middleweight attraction "Irish" John Duddy (17-0, 15 KOs), who backed out an Aug. 10 fight because heat exhaustion, returns Sept. 29 to fight faded former junior middleweight champ Yory Boy Campas (88-8, 72 KOs) on Sept. 29 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York, where Duddy is a tremendous draw.
• Flamboyant junior flyweight titlist Koki Kameda (12-0), just 19 and perhaps Japan's most popular athlete, will give Juan Landaeta (20-4-1) of Venezuela a rematch of their highly controversial Aug. 2 fight. Kameda won a vacant 108-pound belt via split decision against Landaeta, a result that has been heavily criticized in Japan. The rematch is expected to take place in October, but no date has been set.
• Ronyell Whitaker, the nephew of former pound-for-pound king Pernell Whitaker, is in training camp with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings trying to make the team as a cornerback. He made five tackles, forced a fumble and had a sack in a preseason win against Pittsburgh last week. Whitaker, who once considered boxing, instead turned to football. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2003 and spent two years on the practice squad before eventually signing to play in NFL Europe.
• Former heavyweight champion Oliver McCall (47-8, 34 KOs) faces Darroll Wilson (27-8-2, 21 KOs) Sept. 9 in Louisville, Ky., a bout that will air on Spanish-language network Azteca America. Also on the decidedly non-Hispanic card is heavyweight prospect Roman Greenberg (22-0, 15 KOs) against an opponent to be named.
"I have won a gold medal and a world title. Now I want Corrales' scalp for my trophy collection."
-- Joel Casamayor, on his desire to beat lightweight champion Diego "Chico" Corrales when they meet in a Showtime-televised rubber match Oct. 7 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay