Given the state of the heavyweight division, you figured something like this would happen, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that a majority draw was declared in Saturday night's WBC title fight between Hasim Rahman and James Toney at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
But even if only for aesthetic reasons, Rahman should have gotten the nod,
despite the fact that the fight itself was a sloppy -- albeit entertaining at
times -- exhibition of boxing from the big men of the sport circa 2006.
In other words, we're right back where we started.
Scores were 114-114 twice, and 117-111 for Rahman.
"I definitely thought I won the fight," said Rahman, who retains his WBC
"I saw myself winning by two or three points, but that's the name of the
game," said Toney, the former middleweight, super middleweight, and
cruiserweight champion who checked in at a career-high 238 pounds for the
Despite the added poundage, Toney was not shy of standing in front of and
engaging Rahman in the first round, shooting in quick shots and easily
leaning back out of punching range. Rahman stayed calm, catching Toney with
stiff jabs and the occasional right hand, and also making sure to outmuscle
his smaller foe whenever he got his gloves on him at close range.
Rahman continued to push the pace in the second, and he started mixing in
heavy body shots as well. Toney refused to move though, and he landed the
cleaner head blows throughout the round as he potshotted Rahman with
The first big punch of the third - an overhand right -- was scored by Toney,
but Rahman seemed unbothered by it and when the champion fired back, Toney
would stumble drunkenly away, with his balance obviously off. Yet it was
still Toney who was the more effective of the two as he mixed up his punches
well upstairs and down. It was a pace that got the crowd roaring, as they
were obviously not used to seeing two big men fighting at a middleweight
Toney was visibly winded for the first time in the fight in round four, and
he was content to stay on Rahman's shoulder as he flurried in an effort to
impress the judges. "The Rock' played along with this strategy, bulling
Toney to the ropes and fired in short and annoying punches wherever he could
Rahman's jab told the tale in the fifth frame, and Toney seemed frustrated
with the Baltimore native's refusal to allow him inside. Toney missed with
a number of looping right hands, and fatigue again looked to be an issue.
But despite his success, it was Rahman who went back to his corner with a
cut over his left eye thanks to a clash of heads.
The pace dipped in the sixth, and both fighters stood at close range and
alternated shots to the head and body. In the final minute, Rahman pinned
Toney in a neutral corner and opened up with both hands, but it was "Lights
Out' who got the better of the action in brief spurts as he fired off
combinations on his onrushing foe.
The second half of the bout began with Rahman sticking to his gameplan of
jabbing and outmuscling Toney, and though the former three-division champ
had his moments where he landing flush shots, he apparently did not have the
power to hurt Rahman.
After a lethargic couple of rounds, Toney kicked off the eighth with some of
his best work, but by the second minute of the round, Rahman was moving
forward and landing again, and Toney was again stumbling sloppily into the
ropes, where he even resorted to holding the top rope with his right hand as
Rahman bullied him and landed with his right hand from short range. The two
got the crowd roaring again by the time the bell rang though, with some
spirited, if sloppy action.
The ninth provided a breather for both men, with Rahman trudging forward and
Toney lying on the ropes for much of the three minute stanza, and while the
two picked up the pace slightly in the tenth, it was a tough round to score
as both fighters had their moments.
With two rounds left, it appeared that Toney would need a knockout to win,
but he also needed enough gas in the tank to make a run, and that didn't
seem to be the case. Rahman, more disciplined than many expected him to be,
kept jabbing from the outside and peppering Toney on the inside. Toney
responded with some flush right hands, but Rahman walked right through them
with no discernible effect.
In the final round, Toney scored well with both hands, yet he didn't have
nearly enough pop to hurt his foe, let alone knock him out. Rahman, to his
credit, kept pushing the pace, and when the final bell rang, there was
apparently no question who the champion was.
Except in the eyes of two of the judges.
With the draw, Rahman moves his record to 41-5-2 with 33 KOs; Toney goes to
69-4-3 with 43 KOs and 1 no contest.