By Johnny Walker
In the most recent posting by heavyweight veteran James “Lights Out” Toney’s unofficial videographer Elie Seckbach, the badly faded boxer, whose upcoming fight with heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek has been roundly criticized in the boxing media, threatens to physically take out his anger on ESPN boxing scribe Dan Rafael.
Of late, the 43-year-old Toney seems as busy calling out reporters for fights as he does actual boxers.
“Lights Out” called out this reporter and others who criticized his 2011 fight with journeyman Damon Reed, a dog of a bout which he plodded through at a disgraceful career-high weight of 257 pounds. Toney offered any of us $10,000 to spar with him for three rounds, a price I was willing to negotiate, but I never heard back from Toney.
Since then, Toney has gotten whitewashed by cruiserweight Denis Lebedev in Moscow: “Lights Out” later claimed a severe injury hampered him, but he miraculously recovered in just a few months’ time to fight club boxer Bobby Gunn in a non-televised bout that Toney won when the hapless Gunn broke his hand and quit.
Now, criticism over his proposed fight with Adamek has again gotten Toney enraged.
Rafael’s ESPN column slamming the Adamek-Toney fight actually appeared a day after our very similar column was published on Boxing Insider (a column which quoted Rafael’s previous assessment of Toney’s deteriorated condition). Unfortunately for him, Toney can no longer hide the real reason he continues to fight at age 43, as the California State Government recently published his name on a list of its top tax deadbeats (Toney owes over $350,000 in back taxes).
Never mind the fact that Toney was beaten not once, but twice by former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel Peter, and that after the second defeat his former trainer Freddie Roach told Toney to quit (Toney fired Roach instead).
Never mind that Toney got humiliated and whitewashed by Lebedev.
In the minds of Toney and the sycophants he surrounds himself with, James “Lights Out” Toney is the king of the heavyweight division. And anyone who says otherwise is the enemy, someone who needs to be verbally and physically beaten down.
“Dan Rafael, you’re so fat, you’re so disgraceful,” an irate Toney slurs in the video after being egged on by Seckbach.
“So before you even talk about me, and say a word about me, when I see you, I promise you, I will put something on you.
“So be careful what you say about me [unintelligible], when I see you, you and me are gonna have problems. I promise you…
“Dan Rafael, you always talking shit about me, you fat sorry son of a bitch.
“You probably never had a fight in your life … you’re saying I slur my speech and all that shit, man, you are full of SHIT,” an enraged Tony rants.
“Don’t think I won’t come to ESPN to find your ass!”
It is worth asking: if David Haye and Dereck Chisora, two heavyweight contenders, scrapping and throwing a few threats around at a press conference is supposed to be so awful, what about Toney, a professional boxer, continually making threats of physical violence against people who cover boxing and are simply writing the truth as they see it?
The media types who do get close to Toney, like his videographer Seckbach, never seem to ask him any of the obvious questions when he engages in his delusional rhetoric about being the top heavyweight in the world. Perhaps they are afraid of the reaction Toney will have to anything other than flattery.
How can Toney claim to be the best when he lost twice to the best heavyweight he’s fought – a guy who himself has been beaten three times by the Klitschkos, once by Robert Helenius by a brutal knockout, and even once by light-hitting Eddie Chambers?
None of this matters in the delusional world of James Toney and his sycophantic enablers. Toney obviously doesn’t have any real friends, the kind who would tell him the truth about the state of his health and his career. The kind who would tell him he has zero chance against Adamek.
When Toney is finished boxing and can’t tie his own shoelaces because of the punishment he continues to take late in his career, you can bet the ass-kissers who surround him currently will be long gone.
It seems the only people willing to tell Toney the truth are journalists, and when Toney hears that truth, he becomes enraged: after all, the people around him all say he’s the greatest, that he’s better even than Ali!
So this is what is has come down to for once-great fighter James “Lights Out” Toney.
One thing is for sure: this is one story that is not going to have a happy ending.