By Jackie Kallen
I wish people would stop asking me what I think about James Toney fighting Ken Shamrock some time this Fall. What should I think? What should anyone think?
I have nothing against either man. James Toney was my boxer for six years. We soared to great heights together and won several belts. At 160 and 168 pounds, James Toney was one of the best. I was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to help mold the career of such a legendary athlete. But that was 20 years ago. A lot has changed in these two decades. James will be 43 years old in August.
As for Ken Shamrock–he is a terrific guy. When I worked for PRIDE FIGHTING, we worked on a big promotion together and went on a national press tour. He was a pleasure to work with and a true icon in the MMA world. At 47 years old, he has a career record of 28-15-2. He is a wily veteran who has made a huge mark on the sport.
James Toney is 73-6-3 as a pro boxer and 0-1 as an MMA fighter. In what other sport can a fighter with 45 pro fights under his belt (Shamrock) face a man who is 0-1? It is laughable.
So far there is no confirmed date or location for the fight. However, the press conference gave James Toney a chance to do what he does best–rant and rave and threaten and intimidate. Only it appeared that Ken Shamrock was more amused than worried. Some said that James resembled an old, toothless pit bull, sitting on the front porch–barking at old memories.
Whether these two former stars are doing this for the money or for the thirst for the limelight, it is still kind of pathetic. Boxing fans have little or no interest in seeing this spectacle. MMA fans are merely rolling their eyes and wondering why James would enter the cage again after his swift defeat at the hands of Randy Couture last year.
I actually wish them both well and hope that it turns out to be a competitive fight. Maybe James has learned more during the past year and will have a better ground game. It’s been eluded to that the rules are very lenient and the fighters will be stood up after 30 seconds on the ground. That will help James.
Most fight fans prefer to remember Toney’s epic wins over Michael Nunn and Iran Barkley. As for Shamrock, let’s just remember his wins over Dan Severn and Bas Rutten. If these two guys had faced off back then–we’d have a hell of a fight. At this point, it’s merely sad.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen