By Johnny Walker
Boxing Insider got a big laugh today out of new press release being circulated which claims that James “Lights Out” Toney will be fighting bare-knuckles brawler Bobby Gunn on April 7 in a 12-round fight at the Landers Center in Southaven, MS.
The really funny part of this memo is that it claims this bout is for the “IBA Heavyweight Championship of the World,” a title held by “current champion” James Toney.
Now, anybody currently claiming to be a “heavyweight boxing champion of the world” whose last name is not “Klitschko” has to be regarded with suspicion. To make matters worse, James Toney got totally dominated last time out in a cruiserweight fight with Denis Lebedev, losing every round to the workmanlike but unspectacular Russian (Toney claimed to have a severe injury after the fight, but is miraculously already healed up, it seems).
Sadly, Toney’s legendary pugilistic skills have almost totally evaporated. Almost everyone knows it except Toney and a shrinking coterie of deluded supporters.
And we’re supposed to take it seriously when he’s telling us he’s a heavyweight champion of the world?
Hard core boxing fans of course know better, but while amusing, this kind of tomfoolery ultimately hurts the sport – it allows fighters like Toney to go and humiliate themselves in the UFC, and then have the boxing-hating devotees of that sport claim that their man (Randy Couture in Toney’s case) beat up on a “world heavyweight boxing champion.”
Making matters worse, all one has to do is check out the IBA website (http://www.ibamensboxing.com/ratings-2011/ratings-january2012.htm) to see that their heavyweight title is currently listed, as of January 2012, as “vacant.” So even according to the IBA, not one of the major boxing organizations, Toney is not a world heavyweight champion, or any other kind of champion.
Boxing Insider attempted to contact the IBA today via telephone and email to clarify Toney’s status, but so far we have received no reply.
“James Toney is a great champion, and a very tough fighter,” says Bobby Gunn in the aforementioned press release. “I have waited for this chance my whole life. This is my dream come true, to fight for the world heavyweight championship. I am ready for war; to beat me, James Toney will have to kill me.”
Just goes to show, when it comes to boxing, don’t believe everything you read.