By Johnny Walker
The tragicomedy that James “Lights Out” Toney’s career has become is set to continue after Toney was a the beneficiary of an injury to his opponent last evening at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi.
Toney’s opponent, Bobby Gunn, injured his hand in the fourth round, and after giving it a go in the fifth, was forced to retire for the night.
This non-televised “title fight” was a farce from the get-go.
Toney initially billed himself as the “IBA Heavyweight Champion of the World,” but a look at the IBA’s web site showed that title to be vacant.
Then the promotion claimed the fight was for the “Vacant IBA Heavyweight Title,” but on the eve of the fight, the IBA nixed that idea and disowned Toney and Gunn.
The fight was finally sanctioned as a title bout by the IBU, which must be a truly desperate organization.
So expect the newly crowned “IBU Heavyweight Champion of the World,” James Toney (74-7-3, 45 KOs), to be crowing in a slurred and garbled voice about being the “real heavyweight champion of the world,” about how “the man makes the title and not the other way around,” and about how the “Bitchko sisters and David Gaye” are ducking him.
For all but his most devoted fans, Toney ceased to be funny or amusing long ago.
Now, he mostly comes across as a combination of sad, angry, and monotonous.
What is really interesting here is that James Toney is a 43-year-old fighter, far past his prime, obese, and possibly suffering from pugilistic dementia.
Yet while the 40-year-old WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, a gentleman and Toney’s opposite in every sense, always gets asked, to the point of rudeness, when he is going to retire, one seldom, if ever, hears any journalist ask James Toney the same question—a question that is far more pertinent in Toney’s case.
Instead, Toney’s interviews are usually conducted by people who only wish to flatter him and try to get him to take a few more obscene shots at his perceived foes in the boxing world.
Such people should take a long look in the mirror, as they are only encouraging Toney to continue doing long-term damage to his health.
Toney’s chances of ever securing a match against one of the Klitschkos or David Haye would seem to be minimal, but after seeing Jean Marc Mormeck’s pitiful effort against Wladimir, you almost can’t blame Toney, who is rumored to be broke, for hanging on and hoping to score one final big payday.
It’s up to those around Toney to convince him that it’s over, but it seems no one is either willing or able to do that.
So boxing is stuck with James Toney for a little while longer.